Learning Your Name

There’s a story that pops up from time to time on the grappling boards, Valerie Worthington tells a version of it here. It goes something like this: ‘ I was a white belt and tried to be friendly with other people at the academy but no one wanted to learn my name. In fact, one…

There’s a story that pops up from time to time on the grappling boards, Valerie Worthington tells a version of it here. It goes something like this: ‘ I was a white belt and tried to be friendly with other people at the academy but no one wanted to learn my name. In fact, one of the people said that they weren’t going to even try to learn my name until they knew that I was sticking around.’

These stories are real. It does happen. There are lots of places where folks don’t want to invest emotionally in a newbie.

That’s not how we work at Osagame, though. First, newbies go through Fundamentals —- a 6-month class populated mostly by other newbies. Everyone in Fundamentals is in the same place, so the emotional investment is the same for everyone.

But more than that, that’s just not how we roll. That’s simply not who we are.

We want every person we walk in to make it all the way to the black belt. Every single one. We want people to feel welcome from day one. That’s the vibe we wanted when we opened Osagame, and we try hard to make sure that that’s the vibe we have.

And the truth is, you really never know who is going to stick around and who isn’t. I can’t tell you how many times someone came through the door and we thought ‘Oh, they will definitely drop out before they finish Fundamentals’ and they become one of the regulars, putting in the time to work their way through the ranks and help the newer people. And there were plenty of people whom we thought would definitely make it who disappeared after a few months.

So you just don’t know. And since you just don’t know, we want to treat everyone like they are definitely going to make it. We want to know everyone’s name, and we want you to end up earning a black belt.

Sure, there are emotional costs to it —- there are a lot of people who really don’t make it. They disappear even after we have begun to invest emotionally in them. But in the long run, it’s totally worth it. In the long run, it means that we have a mat full of people who feel happy and comfortable at our club. And, you never know, some of the ones who disappear actually end up coming back. We’ve had that happen too.

One small caveat — Ray and Ronnie are both great at remembering names. I (Beth) am not. In my regular life, I teach high school and, honest to god, it takes me until April to remember the names of all my students. I’m just bad at names. Ask Red Hat Matt, whom I called Ian for a good 6 months (at least). I still mess up Aiden and Declan, even though I’ve known them for years. I’ve known them both for a decade and every now and then I refer to Peter as James. I called Albert Mohammed for a solid year. It’s just embarrassing

So, even though I may mess up on your name, it’s not because I don’t care. I’m just bad at names. I am, however, good at people and I promise to know you even if I don’t know your name.


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