Rituals are a feature of all known human societies. You can make the argument that the societies with the strongest ritualistic traditions most likely are the strongest and most beneficial societies to be a part of! Rituals are used to reinforce important ideas, show respect, to pass on knowledge, to identify mission and virtues, for honoring our elders, hero’s and gods, and so forth.
The rituals we practice here at Fargo BJJ & Kickboxing Academy serve specific purpose as well. These include reinforcing our commitments… to our own training and growth, and to our teammates and the academy. We honor those that came before us and give thanks for having who and what we have here today. They also reinforce our core values and primary virtues to keep our gym culture strong and on target.
These things, though they may seem strange or silly or not even realized at first, are crucial to keeping our community unified, educated and on track toward continued growth and crushing our individual and team missions.

One of the first rituals you may notice when joining the tribe is the practice of ‘Bowing’. There are two places we bow consistently in the Academy, onto the mat… and in/out of class.

Bowing onto the mat

For me and what I try to instill in the students, is bowing onto the mat (or into the academy) always signified the idea that no matter how bad of a day I was having I could always leave that garbage outside in the parking lot. That, for at least the hour or so I was going to be there, it was OK to clear my head and not worry about anything. I can be free to enjoy training and the company and support of my friends and teammates. Rest assured, life will be waiting out in the parking lot for your return… no need to drag it into the academy with you!

Also, it’s my moment to be thankful for having such a great place to train! Reflect on all the hero’s that came before that allowed this to happen right here right now… From Jigoro Kano in Japan to Mitsoyo Maeda who travelled the world. From the Gracie Family in Brazil to Amal Easton bringing it to America and right here in Fargo to you… it’s crazy to think about really. You are now truly a part of something much greater than you ever anticipated getting involved in when you walked in here for the first time I’m sure! I like to, for a brief second, remind myself of that.

Lastly, as a coach, I sometimes like to look around the mat and wonder what awesome things many of the future hero’s on the mat today are going to accomplish tomorrow.

“Be the Strongest Link in the Strongest Chain, while making the Next Link Stronger Still!”

Bowing In/Out of Class

Bowing in and out of class signifies the official start and end of the class or training session. It’s the time to commit to an hour of learning and training… no distractions or garbage. I’m honoring my teammates because without them I cannot grow and succeed myself. I’m thinking about fully engaging in the session to give myself the best opportunity to learn and grow, and I’m fully committing to the growth and safety of my teammates as well. This is also why we line up, shake hands and thank each other after every class.  This is important… for morale, camaraderie and inclusion. On the mat we are all one!

On the surface, these are practices that are probably seen at any martial arts dojo across the globe. Unfortunately, if you asked most of the students who partake in this practice they probably couldn’t tell you WHY they actually do it… other than “because they told me to” or the typical sheep answer… “because everyone else does it”!

Of course, Rituals only ‘work’ if you understand the meaning and reason for doing them in the first place. Now that you understand the WHY behind this ritual hopefully it can now better serve its purpose of being one more thing to help you reach you goals and help build and strengthen our tribe.
And since one of the goals of the Fargo BJJ & Kickboxing Academy is build strong and dynamic leaders, it is important to know the answer to when someone asks you “Why do we bow in?”
Remember, the practice of bowing in a martial arts academy can mean a million different things to different people and cultures… this is what it means to US here at FargoBJJ and WHY.

See you (bowing) on the mat,
Prof. George