They say home is where the heart lies. And then there’s your jiu jitsu academy.
Martial arts conjures up images of self protection and submissions. This just describes our actions in jiu jitsu class. The significance of our practice is something that can’t be spoken about so easily.
Sociologist Ray Oldenberg first pioneered the concept in his 1989 book The Great Good Place. He explains that your third place is like a hang out spot, or a community centre that provides an essential zone outside of home and work. It's a welcoming space that has cultivated essential social experiences in the company of like-minded people for years.
Everyone needs a third place.
No matter how cool or awesome your work, and home life are, you need a place to get out and socialise. As much as you love your family, you need to be around others that are like you in different ways. You need friends, and laughs, and time to chill.
It’s never a chore to spend time at your third place. Coffee shops, barbers, and pubs have long been the male’s place of rest and relaxation.
Your jiu jitsu academy is your third place.
These days, it’s the thought of time on the mats at your jiu jitsu academy that gets you through your work day.
Finally the clock strikes 5. You tidy up the loose ends in the office, you log out, pack your bags, and you’re off. You casually stroll through Sydney on your way to the gym. It’s an enjoyable walk through our beautiful city, and you can’t contain the smile on your face.
It’s almost jiu jitsu time, and you’re excited.
You arrive at the club, unpack your bag, and begin to liberate your body from the clutches of your fitted suit. You don the newly washed, and stiffened gi. You tie your belt. You’re alive.
You enter the dojo.
Once lawyers, and labourers, these men and women are now your equals, and fellow comrades. From different backgrounds, you’ve come together with the same intentions - to learn jiu jitsu. Most of the faces you know. They’re the regulars that you’ve been training and learning with for years.
People are happy to see you show up. You're appreciated. Then you have the new faces. They're always treated with friendly curiosity, not hostility.
As we kick off training, you tune into the workings of your own body. We have a job to do, but it doesn’t stop us from sharing jokes, and trading stories. Frivolous banter is welcome, and you’re always encouraged to relax, and be yourself. It’s neutral ground, and everyone comes because they want to, not because they have to.
Eventually you start to enjoy the chilled atmosphere of jiu jitsu class, as distinct from the hustle and bustle of life outside the dojo. It’s a place where you feel connected, and more human than ever. You begin to rely on it as a way to ground you from the ensuing chaos of the other life.
A home away from home
Members feel more like brothers and sisters. The mats feel just like the warmth and comfort of your own home. You feel a piece of yourself is rooted in the space, and you gain strength just by being there.
These are the feelings that come via your dojo. It's how you learn and grow in all other areas of your life. It's why you can't wait for your next session.
Jiu Jitsu is self defence, and submissions, and it's also community, and camaraderie. You need both to be happy and this is the magic that happens in the third place.
Do you need a third place?
You're welcome at Higher Jiu Jitsu.
For more on the Third Place: