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Mind Meld

We held an all-hands meeting on Wednesday night after training, and as promised to those who couldn’t make it, here are the main points that emerged.

Purpose: I called this meeting as we haven’t been getting the attendance or commitment to classes that we’d all like to see, whether you’re a coach or athlete. Having people involved is my priority as a coach, and it seems to me of late that there’s been too much choice for trainees with the result that attendance has actually dropped off. You’d think that more training opportunities would mean greater attendance, but it actually seems to work in reverse. Rather than trying to figure it out by myself, I decided to ask the guys.

The meeting: We talked first about the timetable, I explained what was happening, and asked for some input. Colin said more or less what everyone else seemed to be thinking, that 3 weeknights per week was fine rather than the current 4, and that it would be better to commit to making 2-3 rather than having the “oh I’ll miss tonight because there’s always tomorrow” factor. Everyone seemed to be agreed that Monday, Wednesday and Friday was the best method, and that switching to a beginner session before the advanced would also be a better way of organising the classes to hopefully get some stay-ons as people progressed through the beginner levels. Rather than creating a specific open mat on a Thursday, I suggested an informal meet-up when it suited people, since there may be another class going in on the Thursday slot soon. Saturdays will remain a conditioning/open-mat arrangement and I encouraged more people to make that session.

The agreed new format is:


6pm- beginner training

7pm-8.30pm- Advanced nogi/gi mix


1pm-2pm- Lunchtime BJJ

 6pm- beginner training

7pm-8.30pm- Advanced nogi/gi mix


6pm-7pm- Conditioning

7pm informal open mat.


1pm-2pm- Lunchtime training

6pm-8pm- Competition training/Blue belts


12.15- BJJ Conditioning followed by open mat

Next we spoke about coaching. I wanted to get some feedback on the classes and indeed my coaching. I told everyone that nothing was taboo and I was un-offendable on this front, but I frowned and growled as I said it just to make sure no one actually criticised me. Luckily no one did and everyone seems happy with their training once they get here which is great. It shows on the mat anyway and I was almost certain that was the case, and it was nice to have it reaffirmed anyway. I mentioned that it would be a good thing for everyone if some of the blue belts stepped up a little bit and started to coach a bit, or even just contributed by arriving early and helping out the beginners. Stephen spoke a bit about identifying core people which I agreed with, but with a caveat that having a core group shouldn’t include having a clique, and integration of new people should be a priority. I also asked for some people to step into the kids coaching roles a bit, since myself and Shafty both have busy schedules (college/work/family) and while we’ve never had a situation where both of us have been unavailable, it may happen one day and there’s no ready-made replacement. Rowan said he wouldn’t mind doing it once in a while and Finlandia pointed out that he’s “Good hug- Bad hug” certified. Tom isn’t allowed within 5 metres of any minor thanks to his moustache, but that he’d like to help out with beginners. Dave spoke about remembering 80% of what you teach, and that doing a bit of coaching can really help your game. So one of the “action items” (I once attended real meetings) for me was to organise a coaching day for anyone who wanted to learn how to coach.  I’ll get cracking on that today.

Lastly, I wanted to speak about the attitude towards training, team membership and some of the things I think we need to do more of, and less of. I think everyone can play a role in integrating new people, making an extra effort to get some of the more experienced white belts to get stuck into the advanced classes, and generally make more of an effort to get people into the beginners. Once someone comes up, and they enjoy themselves, I think it’s important to help them out and make it easy for them to come back. Gareth mentioned that he would never have come up originally if he didn’t already have a friend here, and suggested a good method for getting people to join up.

We also spoke a bit about attitude. Obviously, we want everyone giving 100% in every session. That’s a given. We also want to see regular attendance encouraged properly. Banter when people miss sessions is fine, but sometimes people just get pissed off when they miss out and the first thing they hear when they walk in is “where the fuck were you?” Sometimes saying “missed you last week, let’s train” is the way to go.

We spoke as well about little things like cleaning the mats and picking up bottles after each session. This is and should be a team effort as opposed to a Shafty effort. We decided that we’ll all take a few minutes after each session to scrub down the mats and clean the area generally. This will also be good for Yoga, which is hopefully coming very, very soon!

Lastly, we spoke about getting new people into the gym. This is always a challenge, and in my experience, the best method of doing this is through word of mouth. There’ll be some extra advertising going on in the near future which will help with this, but I think everyone understands the importance of spreading the word after last night.

We are a strong, vibrant club. I love coming in to coach and to train here. We have a great core group of people who have helped build this club up to what it is. All we need to do now is to get more people involved and to have lots of new blood coming in to share the experience.

Thanks everyone for their time.


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