Before I started training in the Martial Arts I had so many questions.
“Will I like it…will I be good at it…is it fun…do I want to do it?”
But for some reason the first time I typed a search into Google, that’s not what I typed.
Instead I wrote, “How much does Jiu-Jitsu cost in Brooklyn?”
See, most of the questions I had swirling in my brain were abstract and subjective. What I needed was something concrete to focus on.
So I, like so many others, chose price.
I thought I needed to know that School A costs $100 per month while School B was $400. It was tangible, digestible, and real- not abstract. But the other side of that notion is that it was completely arbitrary.
It turns out that all of the complex personal questions – liking it, is it fun, etc. – have since been answered simply and clearly.
(And – important to note – the internet didn’t answer those questions for me.)
Now nearly a decade removed from that original search, the idea of “how much do martial arts really cost” hasn’t gotten clearer…it’s actually gotten murkier.
What’s the big difference? Well, I’ve learned through this process of training that there’s a distinct difference between value and price.
What I was asking Google for was the price of training. What Google could never tell me was the value of the training…to me.
Looking back, I couldn’t begin to tell you how much money I’ve actually spent on my training through the years when it comes to tuition, gas, parking (and the occasional ticket), train, books, uniforms, seminars, time, etc.
But I can tell you about the value of the training to my life: nothing short of priceless.
Simply stated, I can’t place a dollar amount on the confidence that I’ve built, and how that’s helped me thrive as a teacher, mentor, and family man.
And then I’d have a hard time calculating how much its worth to me to be in peak physical condition – with the discipline to eat well, and feel and look good. I have plenty of energy to play with my kids, or train all day, or go for a run, or all of the above!
I don’t know how to figure out the “price” of the peace of mind that training has taught me to maintain. I’m so much calmer, more thoughtful, and more generous than I was before I started.
And none of that takes into account that I am now focused on improving my life in every way I can. Like, I don’t talk myself out of success anymore. I don’t aim low. I don’t sell myself short. Essentially, my experience at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been the cornerstone of years of ‘me getting better at being me.’)
I couldn’t guess the ripple effect that training would have on my friends and family. I mean, people around me are inspired to be healthier. My kids are learning habits of health, fitness, and cooperation rather than junk food, laziness, and competition.
So when I look back to my original question, I think I asked it because I didn’t know what else to ask.
What I should have been seeking, what a simple dollar amount couldn’t tell me, was what the value would be to my life. I mean, how could Google encapsulate all that I’ve experienced since then…and then tell me what I should pay for it?
Because from where I stand, it’s no longer the difference between $100 and $400 or something in between. The “cost” is only a tiny piece of the puzzle. What I’ve gained through the martial arts has no price, because it can’t be bought – it’s the difference between having the life you want or not.
Professor Jason Lynch is a Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu and the Head Instructor at BBJJ Clinton Hill.