Training Ethics

Article written by Chris Duffy; Jiu Jitsu student/ parent


Michio Grubbs BJJ; Jiu Jitsu Family;Ethical Dilemma; Behaviors that create leaders

Values determines decision making

Whether in the workplace or at home, coming across ethical dilemmas are certain. Correct behavior in one culture might not be appropriate behavior within another culture.

In a 2016 Blog Post, by Ken Blanchard, he states that identifying gaps between values and behaviors helps to determine the set of guidelines for decision making (Blanchard, 2016). Unidentified values can result in confusing decisions.

Moreover, if the values of one organization differ from the values of a similar organization, then who determines the action steps toward desired behaviors? This gray area is where ethical decision-making resides. Consequently, ethical leadership, or the absence thereof, plays a major role in follower incivility (Taylor & Pattie, 2014). That is, subordinates often reflect leadership behavior.

Ethical Behavior

In one recent circumstance that I think of, Professor Michio of Excel Jiu-Jitsu had to control circumstances of unscrupulous behavior. In a recent training session three students from another dojo came in to visit Excel Jiu-Jitsu Academy for ‘training’.  It was obvious from the get go, their intentions were not to ‘train’ but to test themselves (compete) against new training partners and acted as if the training session was the ‘World Championship Tournament’.

This experience exemplifies how ethical people every so often resort to unethical behavior. In other words, when it comes to performance, people will perform tactics that will help them ‘win at any cost’, versus the training mentality that is in place to help develop skills and confidence in ones’ training partner.

Training Smart

Excel Jiu-Jitsu is a safe place to train smart and develop skills. It offers not only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for kids and adults, but also Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) workouts and Boxing classes.

According to Professor Michio, training smart is hard work more so than just physically training hard.

Mixed Martial Arts children Oceanside Vista CA; Kids MMA Oside, boys girls club;

Let’s train Jiu Jitsu

The three students of which belong to another academy were more than welcome to take the class. In doing so, the parents signed required waivers and notices explaining that Excel Martial Arts Gym is a safe, friendly workout environment.

Nevertheless, Professor Michio knew right away that the kids came to take a class with a purpose of ‘winning in a training environment’  when one of the kids requested to spar with the highest-ranking Excel student. Even though the Professor did not initially grant the student his request, the results were the same. The three guests were brutal and over physical during the sparring session.

Professor Michio stopped for everyone to recite the rules: ‘Protect yourself and your training partner’. The second sparring session had similar results with two Excel BJJ students getting hurt.

Other parents became more upset to see that a parent of one of the guest students was only video recording the unfair matches and not signaling to his child to tone down his aggression. Although competition training is an important part of the academy, not all students train to compete in tournaments. Some students simply train for fun and exercise.

Kids BJJ MikoMay Grubbs Jiu Jitsu Kids;Define the Ethical Issue

As mentioned by Carucci (2016), things can easily get off track when there are conflicting goals (Carucci, 2016).

Excel students first train smart before they train hard. They learn to be both physically and mentally fit.

Professor Michio fashions his academy around values that strive for leadership qualities and good attitudes.

The visiting parents proclaim that they always train with a “kill or be killed” mentality. Although this approach to the martial arts has its place, it is highly unethical to bully a class of students with a different mindset and a broader goal in life.

The ethical issue deepens when one understands that the highly-skilled visitors are vicariously learning bad habits from unethical leaders. When the parent chose to record “unmatched” sparring sessions rather than to teach restraint and control, he portrayed poor leadership qualities.

BJJ Kids awards; Jiu Jitsu Girls award; Oceanside Brazilian Jiu Jitsu MMA;Identify Affected Parties

The significance of this underlining experience impacts several parties. First, the students’ interest in the Martial Arts may shift. While the Professor works to strengthen their mentalities, the kids suffer at different degrees the effects of defeat.

Second, the parents’ perception toward the academy may also change. It is irrefutable to announce that every parent wishes to see their child succeed (in this case, dominate their opponent).

Therefore, parents may feel that the Professor’s way of teaching is insufficient.

Finally, the academy as a business also consumes implications. Parents are the customers. Although the incident is unethical, it is bad business to observe all its students become overwhelmed.

Boys Girls Leadership Values; Kids Role Model; lead by action childrenDetermine Possible Consequences

Excel Jiu-Jitsu students, unfortunately, experienced an unethical demeanor, but the lasting impression can be positive, negative, or both. Some students may decide to increase their training; some students may feel discouraged to return, and other students may proceed their training schedule without change. Excel parents may have similar share concerns. If parents feel that a more aggressive learning style is preferred, they may choose to seek alternative academies.

Kids MMA; boys girls Mixed Martial Arts Oceanside Vista CA;Slow and Steady wins the race

Professor Michio let’s his academy know that there are different ways of teaching the art.

He truly believes that slow, steady, safe, and fun is the way to go, especially for children.

He also assured the parents and kids that all future guests would be better prepared to protect each other while training hard.

Consequently, he must recognize the onset of unethical situations and align those dilemmas with the organization’s values to determine action.

The Professor ultimately must ensure the safety of everyone in the building, member or non-member.

San Diego Kids Jiu Jitsu tournaments; SD BJJ Kids TournamentReflections

Values are of the utmost importance to making decisions regarding ethical dilemmas. I put a lot of thought into this and I found that Professor Michio not only promotes the organization’s values, but he also walks the talk.

He stresses the importance of hard work. I believe therefore he gives the three students credit for training so hard at a competition level.

Unfortunately, Professor Michio explains, they are only winning half the battle.

“There is more to Jiu-Jitsu than winning a match. It is about creating a can-do attitude and helping others.”

I have confidence in Professor Michio’s approach to mold kids into true leaders through the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Blanchard, K. (2016). Walk Your Talk. How We Lead. [Blog post].

Carucci, R. (2016). Why Ethical Peopla Make Unethical Choices. Harvard Business Review.

Taylor, S. G., & Pattie, M. W. (2014). When Does Ethical Leadership Affect Workplace Incivility? The Moderating Role of Follower Personality. Business Ethics Quarterly, 595-616.


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