Friday, August 12, 2011

Joblessness, Value and Skill, and BJJ

The US has some of the highest record of unemployment in it's history. There are also thousands and thousands of jobs right here in the US that have not been filled for quite some time. How is this possible when there are so many unemployed people? You should think one problem would solve the other correct? Real life doesn't work like it does in theory.

The reason there are so many jobs that can't be filled is, people are not qualified. It has to do with skill. There aren't enough skilled laborers, people with skill building cars (not just working an assembly line), skill with steel, engineering skill, accounting skill, experience, etc.

We don't just have a lot of unemployed people, we also have a high amount of unskilled unemployed labor. Maybe you went to a good college, a piece of paper that says you completed 18 years of school or so in your lifetime. It doesn't mean you have any skills or bring any value to the table. Not only that, even though you have no skill or value, you feel entitled due to the amount of time and money invested in you to have your employer spend their time and money training you in a skill for free, but also paying you some high salary as you do it.

You could have someone who's been working for years and suddenly be laid off and be in the same position they started out in as a new graduate. Having no skill and not creating any skill while employed. Maybe they were a mortgage broker, used to making 100k a year. Now newly laid off, wanting a starting salary of 100k, but having no real tangible skill outside of some general sale and people skills. He could have in that time used his resources to start his own company, learn a new language, learn management, investing in other securities, create value for his name, etc. Now he is a high priced, low skilled, laborer...

This same problem exists in all things, even martial arts. There has been criticism of how martial arts has been watered down over the years and BJJ is no exception to this criticism from some of the founding members. Some people come in, mindlessly training, putting in their time, punching in their clock, and waiting to get their next belt. When they do get it, maybe they can't show a triangle or how to maintain a mount.

Then you get a surplus of upper belts. How many of them have a lot of skill and constantly create a value for themselves? What if they all want to open schools, now you have a surplus of schools, can they all offer a high value? Probably not. So you get unemployed martial artists and a watering down of the whole system.

You get some guys who have been training for 10 years and you see them teach something and wonder how different they are from when they were a new blue belt. Then you get some rare blue or purple belts who seem more valuable in skill than most black belts. Their demand has been secured.

Maybe degrees, belts, time, money invested, teachers you've had are not the best way to gauge value. Maybe value can only be gauged by the old standard, of interviewing, references, number of masteries (languages, programs, certificates, classes, arts) , and a proposition: of what they can give you and your company and how they plan to do it.

Maybe martial artists aren't as good as what they've done in the past but what they are continuing to do, continuing to learn and master and accomplish, and their foresight into the next 5 years and beyond. Only as good as their plan, their system. A master needs a master plan.


  1. I wish you luck.

  2. We had a wonderfully physically skilled get kicked out of my school for holding a guillotine too long on a lower belt classmate. As it turned out, this had been an ongoing issue that was addressed, ignored by him, and then permanently addressed the night he got the boot.

    I was sad to see him go, because he had such talent that pushed my own skill ahead. I was more saddened by the fact his black belt was one dimensional, his fighting spirit, his personal conduct (outside the school), and his leadership were as empty as a charred landscape. In some ways, he will forever remain a white belt, and a foolish one at that.


  3. I meant wonderfully skilled "black belt" in that first sentence.

    Edit! sorry bout that.



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