There are 10,000 reasons for not going to class… and all of them are good.

There are probably more than 10,000 good, valid reasons for not going to any one jujutsu class. Your mother is on her deathbed, you were in a car accident on the way to class and are in the hospital, your best friend just showed up at your door after finding out he is terminally ill and needs to talk to someone, etc. These are all valid reasons for not attending a class. On the other hand, there are as many excuses for not going to class: your favorite TV show changed time slots, you are upset about a speeding ticket you got on the way to class, your best friend just showed up at your door and wants to go out partying, etc.

The crux of the matter is the dividing line between an excuse that allows you to rationalize not going to class and a reason for not attending that any rational person would agree is valid. Obviously, this dividing line is not black and white. Also, it is not the same for every jujutsuka and may even change over time.

The criteria I have used for making these decisions over the last 30 years is based on my reason for doing jujutsu in the first place. I do jujutsu because it is largely who I am. I see the world through a jujutsu prism. In daily life, I feel how zanshin helps me to avoid conflicts with customers at work and with deer on the highway, I sense when someone wants to use me as their “uke” over their anger at their computer and I set my daily priorities based on what will make me be a better jujutsuka. In the past, I have twice walked into boss’ offices with letters of resignation when they were insisting that I not attend jujutsu class to be at company meetings. Both times they relented on their demands, when they saw I was serious about my dedication to jujutsu.

If you clearly understand why you do jujutsu, the excuse/reason boundary becomes much more defined. If you do jujutsu as a hobby, then going out partying with your friends may be classified as a reason for not attending class. If you doing jujutsu because you want to experience personal development physically, mentally and philosophically, then going out partying you will see as an excuse. If you value your family more than your desire to do jujutsu, going to your mother’s dinner makes perfect sense as a valid reason for not going. Also, attending your kids sporting events, school activities and wife’s holiday party would all be good valid reasons for not attending class.

If this internal conflict over attending class versus other events in your life is a daily struggle, your pursuit of jujutsu will never be satisfying. I think this is clearly seen when you “don’t feel up to” going to class. This avoidance is a sign that your motivations to do jujutsu are being overridden by other concerns. Again, figuring out your true aim for pursuing jujutsu will help clarify what you are avoiding. You may decide you should just quit jujutsu and pursue the other things in your life that make you happy.

As a sensei, I have had to stifle my frustrations over the excuses/reasons my students give for not coming to class. Now, I look at the possible reasons a student is doing jujutsu (we ask them on their initial sign in sheet why they are starting) and then I can more rationally evaluate their absence. Once I realized that their personal excuse/reason boundary was what motivated their attendance, my frustration diminished substantially. Not that I still don’t hear what amounts to excuses for not being in class. But, I often remind students of what Professor Browne was famous for saying, “Those who come, get.”

Ward Melenich is co-Sensei at the Kuroinukan/ Duluth Judo Club/ Duluth Wrestling Club

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