New Student: when will you quit?

gpseymour

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The BJJ place I tried was always so serious. God forbid you crack a joke in the middle of a roll. Everyone was so concentrated on being a bad-*** (or on winning?). So resplendent with the victory of BJJ over all other martial arts (at least in their minds). There was no appreciation of the basic absurdity of putting on Asian pajamas to roll around on the floor with other sweaty men and try to choke them. It took all the fun out of it.

Boxing I think needs a whole lot more LARPing than most martial arts. I mean karate LARPing is pretty harmless. But with boxing you have to overcome the basic common sense of what you're doing to your brain to keep going at it. How else to justify the huge health risks, unless you're living out your own private Rocky or Creed in your head? And I love boxing. How many people would become expert jugglers if every time they juggled, they risked real brain damage or death?

That's fine if you want to think I'm just generalizing. I'm sure your experiences have led you to different conclusions. I haven't gone to every school out there but I've been to a few and for more than a couple classes. And each one had a mentality associated with it. Something you'd never find with juggling or stamp collection or some other hobby that people are less likely to get their identity wrapped up with.
So, to contrast the one BJJ place you mentioned, I saw a good sense of humor at the gym where Tony teaches. Heck, he's known for being slow and technical - practicing "Sloth Jiu-Jitsu" - and has a sloth on his gi. Some places are quite serious. Some are not.

Go to a serious "juggling school" (okay, probably clown school) and you'll probably find they're pretty intense, too. Same for dancing, and soccer, and tennis. The intensity and seriousness is a feature of a fairly common approach to developing skills in a certain way. It's not the only way, and you can find folks who are just having fun with tennis, soccer, and dancing, too.

I think a combination of serious and light is more common than not. Most MA seminars I've been to featured more than a few jokes (many of them quite bad), and folks laughing at their own screw-ups. Some schools are more formal, as are some instructors.
 

mrt2

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Actually I would disagree. I think all martial arts suffer from it to some degree because of the large amount of identity that practitioners get from their art. Boxers and MMA artists are more likely to get caught up in hyper-masculinity than in Eastern traditions but the end result is the same. There's a role to be played. There's a hierarchy to be maintained. The craft is elevated to something almost mysterious. I've seen it on the faces of karatekas, BJJ'ers and boxers alike. As if they're lost in the fantasies and fears that motivate them.

I wouldn't speculate on the content of your classes and I'm sure there are schools out there that manage to avoid this kind of thinking. But I'm still convinced that's the exception not the rule. Once you replace the martial art with juggling, a lot of the silliness becomes clear.
Every activity to some extent has a culture and ethos about it that, from the outside, looks ridiculous. In this regard, Martial Arts is not all that different from, yoga, or body building, or endurance sports (running, cycling, swimming or triathlons).
 

Rick Franklin

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So why are you here?

To defend the quitter. Even the guy who never shows up to class. In my mind those quitters are just as good, just as smart, and just as dedicated at the things that are important to them as you are. Any suggestion otherwise is just pretense. No one gets upset when someone gives up juggling for another hobby, but martial arts is rife with that kind of elitism. That's part of what drove me away and I felt compelled to share my opinion.
 

gpseymour

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To defend the quitter. Even the guy who never shows up to class. In my mind those quitters are just as good, just as smart, and just as dedicated at the things that are important to them as you are. Any suggestion otherwise is just pretense. No one gets upset when someone gives up juggling for another hobby, but martial arts is rife with that kind of elitism. That's part of what drove me away and I felt compelled to share my opinion.
I think you might have missed the point of the OP. Most of us have some very good friends who used to train with us. We don't think less of them because they don't want to do what we want to do.
 

Buka

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The BJJ place I tried was always so serious. God forbid you crack a joke in the middle of a roll. Everyone was so concentrated on being a bad-*** (or on winning?). So resplendent with the victory of BJJ over all other martial arts (at least in their minds). There was no appreciation of the basic absurdity of putting on Asian pajamas to roll around on the floor with other sweaty men and try to choke them. It took all the fun out of it.

Boxing I think needs a whole lot more LARPing than most martial arts. I mean karate LARPing is pretty harmless. But with boxing you have to overcome the basic common sense of what you're doing to your brain to keep going at it. How else to justify the huge health risks, unless you're living out your own private Rocky or Creed in your head? And I love boxing. How many people would become expert jugglers if every time they juggled, they risked real brain damage or death?

That's fine if you want to think I'm just generalizing. I'm sure your experiences have led you to different conclusions. I haven't gone to every school out there but I've been to a few and for more than a couple classes. And each one had a mentality associated with it. Something you'd never find with juggling or stamp collection or some other hobby that people are less likely to get their identity wrapped up with.

The BJJ place I trained was so laid back, so low key cool - man, I wish it was still there. No pressures, no macho, just good old, low key rock and roll.

I boxed for many years. Fortunately, my eggs don't seem scrambled. But I can't see boxing for thirty years, at least not sparring.

Rick, how long did you train? Do you miss it?
 

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I know this is an old post but I felt compelled to throw in my opinion about students quitting. I recently quit Tang Soo Do and probably martial arts in general so I sympathized more with the quitters than the stayers. In fact I read all the replies on here looking for a good rebuttal to the OP but not really getting it. Shotokan karate being fake is a popular complaint but really, the more hardcore martial arts still have lots of quitters. And for many of the same reasons as the traditional ones.
For me, I thought about the mental gymnastics people have to go through to do a traditional martial art. All the pretense they have to accept and not question. It's very much like a religion. Karatekas may not share beliefs about the cosmos but their beliefs about who they are and what they're doing is just as religious as any priest or monk. You could see it dripping off every word in the OP, a smugness about what he had accomplished and a gentle head-shake over what those hapless new students were missing out on when they quit. He was living out a story in his head.
So I tried to think of a past-time that didn't have all this baggage of identity surrounding it. But something that you might do for fun and might get better at the more you do it. Something like, say, juggling. No one becomes a great juggler in order to feel more manly or in order to feel safer walking down dark streets at night. I doubt many jugglers identify themselves as A JUGGLER right up there with being A SON and A FATHER and A HUSBAND, or any of the other big "roles" out there that people get their identity tied up with.
Let's say you thought juggling looked like fun and you wanted to try it out. But in order to really learn to juggle (as opposed to mimicking YouTube videos and reading books which we all know isn't the REAL juggling), you had to join a society of LARPers. Let's call them the French Aristocracy. They pretend that they're the royal court of Louis the XIV, the Sun King.
To learn to juggle, you must wear period-appropriate clothing including a wig and pantaloons. You start out as a lowly courtier and must bow before the actual royalty. The instructor is your Sun King and deserves commensurate praise. If you keep juggling, working hard at your craft, you might be promoted to a viceroy or duke. And then you can be really proud of what you accomplished.
Maybe you see all this silliness and you think, hey I really do like to juggle and this is the best way to learn, so you swallow your pride and you learn all those French customs of 17th century aristocracy and you try to focus on enjoying the actual craft of juggling.
There's no breaking character with the French Aristocracy. You can't just chat it up with a Duke like he's a regular guy or help him with a juggling technique if you see him struggling to keep five balls in the air. You can't tell the Sun King his wig looks ridiculous. When you run into one of the viceroys outside of juggling practice, maybe you are sure to tell him how much fun it is and how much you're learning but you definitely don't say how much the French Aristocracy is a drag and you'd rather just juggle.
Even if you stick it out for years, and maybe you do get a little thrill when you get promoted to duke, still there's that side of you that knows it's all pretentious nonsense. A constant cognitive dissonance between the real you (who buys groceries and cleans up cat poop and wants to sleep in on Saturdays) and the "aristocratic" you whom you have to become to keep juggling. And you do like to juggle.
Then you get injured. Let's say your juggling bowling balls and one falls on your foot. So you can't go to the meetings of the French Aristocracy for some time. Part of you is relieved. It's a lot of work to keep yourself performing like that. Like holding your breath underwater. Your injury improves in time and you think about going back to juggling but there's that hesitation. You know you can't break character once you get back on the bandwagon. And it's so nice to just be you when you're not there. But the juggling is fun! But damn that wig is stuffy. Your head is sweating like the whole time.
Looking at martial arts like this, the real question seems to be why doesn't everyone quit?
I guess there will always be those people who grew up on movies about the French Aristocracy. Who wanted to be Louis the XIV or Marie Antoinette when they were young. For them, the thrill of putting on that wig and those pantaloons, it takes them out of the mundanity of their daily life. And it's worth doing it for as long as they can, reveling in each French phrase, giving the royal curtsy to exactly the right depth. Looking at the unwashed masses and thinking, that guy has no idea what it feels like to be a duke or to juggle a bowling ball and a tennis ball at the same time. There's a pride in that.
There will also be the people who love juggling so much that they decide it's worth dealing with all LARPing. Because juggling is just so much damn fun. They'll wear whatever wig they have to if it lets them keep juggling into a ripe old age. Maybe some of them decide to just juggle on their own. Set up a juggle room in their basement. Then they never have to wear a wig or utter a French phrase again. They can still enjoy juggling, but it's not quite the same without all their friends to juggle with. But hey, it's something.
Your experience is very different from mine.
 

mrt2

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To defend the quitter. Even the guy who never shows up to class. In my mind those quitters are just as good, just as smart, and just as dedicated at the things that are important to them as you are. Any suggestion otherwise is just pretense. No one gets upset when someone gives up juggling for another hobby, but martial arts is rife with that kind of elitism. That's part of what drove me away and I felt compelled to share my opinion.
It is absolutely fine to quit. I would urge you to read my post from last year. It is a few pages back at post 97. I quit martial arts 36 years ago and came back last year. And since that time, I have seen people quit.at my current school. I can't judge if someone quits because they have too many other work or family commitments, or because they have health problems, or for some other reason.

That said, yours is less a defense of quitters and more an attack on martial arts. But as I said a few posts up, every activity has an ethos, a culture, and a uniform. Show up at a bicycle road race, or even a serious club ride wearing a baseball cap and cutoff denim shorts, and you will feel ridiculous. Or, for that matter, at a tennis match. Or a golf match.
 

Tony Dismukes

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The BJJ place I tried was always so serious. God forbid you crack a joke in the middle of a roll.

Everyone was so concentrated on being a bad-*** (or on winning?). So resplendent with the victory of BJJ over all other martial arts (at least in their minds). There was no appreciation of the basic absurdity of putting on Asian pajamas to roll around on the floor with other sweaty men and try to choke them. It took all the fun out of it.

I've seen places like that. Don't think I'd want to train at one long term. I enjoy being able to have a sense of humor about what I'm doing and I think most of my training partners do also.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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To defend the quitter. Even the guy who never shows up to class. In my mind those quitters are just as good, just as smart, and just as dedicated at the things that are important to them as you are. Any suggestion otherwise is just pretense. No one gets upset when someone gives up juggling for another hobby, but martial arts is rife with that kind of elitism. That's part of what drove me away and I felt compelled to share my opinion.

Ok, thank you. Goodbye.
 

Flying Crane

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To defend the quitter. Even the guy who never shows up to class. In my mind those quitters are just as good, just as smart, and just as dedicated at the things that are important to them as you are. Any suggestion otherwise is just pretense. No one gets upset when someone gives up juggling for another hobby, but martial arts is rife with that kind of elitism. That's part of what drove me away and I felt compelled to share my opinion.
Nobody is upset. I have always said, martial arts are not for everyone. That is not a criticism. Everyone needs to find the things in life that are important to them. Martial arts is not that thing, for most people.
 

Rick Franklin

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So, to contrast the one BJJ place you mentioned, I saw a good sense of humor at the gym where Tony teaches. Heck, he's known for being slow and technical - practicing "Sloth Jiu-Jitsu" - and has a sloth on his gi. Some places are quite serious. Some are not.

Go to a serious "juggling school" (okay, probably clown school) and you'll probably find they're pretty intense, too. Same for dancing, and soccer, and tennis. The intensity and seriousness is a feature of a fairly common approach to developing skills in a certain way. It's not the only way, and you can find folks who are just having fun with tennis, soccer, and dancing, too.

I think a combination of serious and light is more common than not. Most MA seminars I've been to featured more than a few jokes (many of them quite bad), and folks laughing at their own screw-ups. Some schools are more formal, as are some instructors.

I can take intensity, but I need an emphasis on fun--otherwise what's the point?

Maybe my experience would be different if I had tried a different school. But you have to admit that there's a different culture with MMA at least. Read some of the posts on Sherdog or any other MMA forum. The constant flame wars between MMA and TMA where people talk past each other, completely missing the other persons point. Each side is stuck in their paradigm and can't see past it. Maybe you've seen some of those motivation images that show a bunch of overweight/old TMA black belts and compare them to young, ripped, BJJ black belts saying, "Now THESE are black belts"? It's not exactly uncommon.

I worked with a guy who took MMA and he was pretty dismissive of my karate when I never tried to say it was any better than his sport of choice. It was like a football player getting upset that someone else plays soccer. Just crazy. Now I know karate has it's issues and I'd never deny that but there were things I liked about it. Things that had value to me. But I'm not going to tell someone else what they're doing has no value, that they need to "convert".

As for the machismo, you've got these superstars like Conor McGregor giving the sport a bad name. Michael Venom Page brags about breaking some guys orbital bone. See how Ronda Rousey got trashed after her loss to Holly Holm like she was nothing, because she was capable of losing. Lots of attitude you wouldn't see in the TMA side. Sure you've got humble guys too, I'm not say there aren't any, just that there's a culture there that a lot of guys buy into.

And this all just goes to my argument that there's a lot of baggage that goes with the juggling even on the MMA side.
 

Rick Franklin

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The BJJ place I trained was so laid back, so low key cool - man, I wish it was still there. No pressures, no macho, just good old, low key rock and roll.

I boxed for many years. Fortunately, my eggs don't seem scrambled. But I can't see boxing for thirty years, at least not sparring.

Rick, how long did you train? Do you miss it?

Sounds like you had a good BJJ school. I guess they're out there.

I was close to black belt when I left karate last year, mostly due to chronic lower back pain. Some combination of high kicks and risky core exercises I guess but I couldn't manage it. Still, it was time. I was reaching the point of diminishing returns. Karate was the only martial art I stuck with for more than a couple years. Besides that I've taken tai chi, kung fu, tae kwon do, kendo, BJJ, and fitness boxing at various times. Honestly the BJJ only lasted a couple months so I fully admit my experience there was limited.

I definitely miss it. The drills were fun. Trying to get that perfect spinning hook kick down or a good hook-round kick combo. The sparring was my favorite. Always a challenge. I don't know how many nights I lay in bed hyped up on adrenaline going over combos and fakes in my mind, holes in my game. The self-defense techniques were interesting, if not too practical. Can't say I got much from the kata. Really, I think I'm still in mourning over a hobby that used to mean so much to me.

I got into boxing too late in life. At 43, I can't see sparring so I have to make do with combos on the heavy bag, learning tricks on the speed bag and watching fights on DAZN. I can work on my technique but I can't test it. Maybe if I were in my 20s again I might be able to ignore all the data about concussions and head trauma. But not anymore. Seems like your 40s are a time of stripping away illusions.

I suppose I'd try a martial art again if I could find one without any pretense, huge egos, fear-mongering, Orientalism, cultism, fraud, favoritism, long-term health problems and all the other issues that tend to plague them. But I'm not holding my breath.
 

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Sounds like you had a good BJJ school. I guess they're out there.

I was close to black belt when I left karate last year, mostly due to chronic lower back pain. Some combination of high kicks and risky core exercises I guess but I couldn't manage it. Still, it was time. I was reaching the point of diminishing returns. Karate was the only martial art I stuck with for more than a couple years. Besides that I've taken tai chi, kung fu, tae kwon do, kendo, BJJ, and fitness boxing at various times. Honestly the BJJ only lasted a couple months so I fully admit my experience there was limited.

I definitely miss it. The drills were fun. Trying to get that perfect spinning hook kick down or a good hook-round kick combo. The sparring was my favorite. Always a challenge. I don't know how many nights I lay in bed hyped up on adrenaline going over combos and fakes in my mind, holes in my game. The self-defense techniques were interesting, if not too practical. Can't say I got much from the kata. Really, I think I'm still in mourning over a hobby that used to mean so much to me.

I got into boxing too late in life. At 43, I can't see sparring so I have to make do with combos on the heavy bag, learning tricks on the speed bag and watching fights on DAZN. I can work on my technique but I can't test it. Maybe if I were in my 20s again I might be able to ignore all the data about concussions and head trauma. But not anymore. Seems like your 40s are a time of stripping away illusions.
Martial arts may not be for you, or perhaps you have simply lost interest. We each find our own path in life.

I suppose I'd try a martial art again if I could find one without any pretense, huge egos, fear-mongering, Orientalism, cultism, fraud, favoritism, long-term health problems and all the other issues that tend to plague them. But I'm not holding my breath.
Again, it sounds like your experience was vastly different from mine. What you describe above, I has not been part of the schools in which I’ve trained.
 

Rick Franklin

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Nobody is upset. I have always said, martial arts are not for everyone. That is not a criticism. Everyone needs to find the things in life that are important to them. Martial arts is not that thing, for most people.

Really, you've never know anyone in the martial arts community to get inordinately upset about someone leaving the fold? I've seen it happen multiple times with multiple schools. I remember so clearly running into a friend from kung fu after I quit it in high school. It was a couple years later. He was all friendly with me until I said I was considering going back and then he got all angry and stormed off with a "Yeah, sure you were!" as though I had insulted him. It was unreal. I hadn't realized how much of an "us vs them" the school had been and I clearly was a "them" now. That's just one instance. Seemed like the norm to me.

Even the BJJ school I tried. My back was acting up after a hard roll so I took some time off. Only a week or so. When I came back, the instructor gave me a long look like he was saying, "What the hell are you doing back here?" Shoot, that guy never liked me. I clearly never go into the "us" category there.
 

Flying Crane

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Really, you've never know anyone in the martial arts community to get inordinately upset about someone leaving the fold? I've seen it happen multiple times with multiple schools. I remember so clearly running into a friend from kung fu after I quit it in high school. It was a couple years later. He was all friendly with me until I said I was considering going back and then he got all angry and stormed off with a "Yeah, sure you were!" as though I had insulted him. It was unreal. I hadn't realized how much of an "us vs them" the school had been and I clearly was a "them" now. That's just one instance. Seemed like the norm to me.

Even the BJJ school I tried. My back was acting up after a hard roll so I took some time off. Only a week or so. When I came back, the instructor gave me a long look like he was saying, "What the hell are you doing back here?" Shoot, that guy never liked me. I clearly never go into the "us" category there.
No, I have not experienced that.
 

mrt2

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Really, you've never know anyone in the martial arts community to get inordinately upset about someone leaving the fold? I've seen it happen multiple times with multiple schools. I remember so clearly running into a friend from kung fu after I quit it in high school. It was a couple years later. He was all friendly with me until I said I was considering going back and then he got all angry and stormed off with a "Yeah, sure you were!" as though I had insulted him. It was unreal. I hadn't realized how much of an "us vs them" the school had been and I clearly was a "them" now. That's just one instance. Seemed like the norm to me.

Even the BJJ school I tried. My back was acting up after a hard roll so I took some time off. Only a week or so. When I came back, the instructor gave me a long look like he was saying, "What the hell are you doing back here?" Shoot, that guy never liked me. I clearly never go into the "us" category there.
Funny you say that. I am 53 so I have tried since I came back to cultivate a friendship with the older guys and women, if for no other reason than to get training tips on how to keep up with the younger folks. Anyhow , there is a guy a few years younger than me, but at the time I started, he was still a lower rank. I think when I started last winter as a white belt, he was a high yellow belt. So as beginners, we often lined up together and worked on the same stuff. Because I came to TKD with some previous experience, I picked up on things quicker than him and by last summer, I caught up to him and into the fall, we were both green belts, so again, both older guys, working on the same curriculum, often got put together as sparring partners, etc... Than he got injured sparring one night and was not able to train for a couple of months, and I advanced ahead of him. I reached out to him in December asking him about his recovery, and he responded, saying he was more energized to get back to things, and we even got together between Christmas and New Years to practice some. He told me his motto for the new year was "black belt or bust". In other words, he was going to put in the time and step up his training so that he could test for black belt in a year to 18 months. I told him that was my goal as well and we should coordinate our schedules to do more training together. Then I don't see or hear from the guy for a couple of weeks, so I send him an email. He told me he changed his mind and instead of committing himself to MA, he was leaving the school.

OK, so I am not judging anyone. He had his reasons. But fast forward to this week. He shows up at the school, probably to watch his son train. Now,give the guy a little wave on my way into class. After class, I think maybe we can chat a bit and catch up. Nope. As soon as his son steps off the mats, this guy hustles the son out of there and takes off.

Clearly, he no longer feels like he is one of us, and I think he is the one who doesn't want to deal with it.
 

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I train hard for 8 years and learn a great deal from my first 2 teachers.
When I got out of the Navy, I had train in varies average schools and my art had not improved over the course of those 4 years.
I never cared if the teacher liked or disliked me or if I wore a white belt or a black belt, I only cared if he could improve my ability.
I had an expectation that black belts should be able to fight and perform forms better than me.
Excuses I used for quitting were lack of money and time.
The main reason I quit MA in 1985, I was tired of being taught by 2 year black belts wonders.
 

Bruce7

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Funny you say that. I am 53 so I have tried since I came back to cultivate a friendship with the older guys and women, if for no other reason than to get training tips on how to keep up with the younger folks. Anyhow , there is a guy a few years younger than me, but at the time I started, he was still a lower rank. I think when I started last winter as a white belt, he was a high yellow belt. So as beginners, we often lined up together and worked on the same stuff. Because I came to TKD with some previous experience, I picked up on things quicker than him and by last summer, I caught up to him and into the fall, we were both green belts, so again, both older guys, working on the same curriculum, often got put together as sparring partners, etc... Than he got injured sparring one night and was not able to train for a couple of months, and I advanced ahead of him. I reached out to him in December asking him about his recovery, and he responded, saying he was more energized to get back to things, and we even got together between Christmas and New Years to practice some. He told me his motto for the new year was "black belt or bust". In other words, he was going to put in the time and step up his training so that he could test for black belt in a year to 18 months. I told him that was my goal as well and we should coordinate our schedules to do more training together. Then I don't see or hear from the guy for a couple of weeks, so I send him an email. He told me he changed his mind and instead of committing himself to MA, he was leaving the school.

OK, so I am not judging anyone. He had his reasons. But fast forward to this week. He shows up at the school, probably to watch his son train. Now,give the guy a little wave on my way into class. After class, I think maybe we can chat a bit and catch up. Nope. As soon as his son steps off the mats, this guy hustles the son out of there and takes off.

Clearly, he no longer feels like he is one of us, and I think he is the one who doesn't want to deal with it.

Excellent post.

Mr. Jordan is an excellent teacher and has an excellent program for kids.
He is an 8th dan in Tiger Rock system. He understood why I was not happy with the system.
One of Mr. Jordan's teachers is a 4th dan Black Belt at 18 and only knows there progressive form.
I expect a black belt to know 18 forms as a minimum.
Jack Hwang in his 40's was only a 5th dan black belt, when he was my teacher back in the 70's.

Mr. Jordan understand why I wanted to quit and did not charge me the extra month he was due.
He also said I was welcome to watch my grandchildren.
Even though I was welcome I felt uncomfortable, that's my fault for feeling that way.
Your friend is probably just a little embarrassed, he did not stay with the program.
He probably still likes you, if not that's on him.
 

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Read some of the posts on Sherdog or any other MMA forum
that says far more about the site and the posters than MMA.



As for the machismo, you've got these superstars like Conor McGregor giving the sport a bad name. Michael Venom Page brags about breaking some guys orbital bone. See how Ronda Rousey got trashed after her loss to Holly Holm like she was nothing, because she was capable of losing.

Actually that's not MMA, that's hype and publicity designed purely to sell seats and merchandise. You have to differentiate between the needs of the business and the sport.





Really, you've never know anyone in the martial arts community to get inordinately upset about someone leaving the fold?

No, I haven't. I did have two students who didn't come back from Afghanistan, that upset us badly, still does but people actually leaving no.


Just a thought here, have you considered that the problem might be you rather than ALL the many martial arts places you've been to, after there seems to be a common thread running through this.
 
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