Friday, April 15, 2011
How to get sponsorship in BJJ
Often the topic of sponsorship comes up among Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors. In the gym, there are lots of guys that want to compete but don’t have the necessary funds to do so. Not everyone has the luxury of having tournaments held near to their homes or academies and certainly most fighters I know don’t have the money to fly all over the world to compete. If you are financially well off and able to do this…awesome. For the rest of us, we need to find money to do what we love. One answer is sponsorship. So the question is, “How can I get sponsored to fight?” The answer is simply, you have to work for it. Sponsorship money is out there but you need to know what you are doing and you need to put in some work for it.
Remember…unless you are one of the biggest names in the sport, people are not going to throw checks at you. Since I’m no Roger Gracie, I need to look for people willing to help me out! Businesses are most likely not knocking down our doors to pay us to fight. There is no such thing as free money. But the good news is that there is money available in corporate world that people will be willing to share with us to train and compete. With a few helpful tips, you may be able to help fund you passion and obtain sponsorship to the next big BJJ tournament by following a few simple general guidelines.
Recently a friend of mine had asked me if I had any tips on how to get sponsored. The first thing I told him is to look within the academy. In many BJJ schools, there are people from all walks of life. You may have doctors and lawyers and wealthy business owners that share your passion for the sport of BJJ but perhaps not the desire to compete. These people have trained with you. They have sat on the mats after class and laughed with you. They are your teammates and friends and they know you as well as anyone out there. These are the first people to ask if they would be willing to help out with travel expenses. Usually this will be a business expense or tax write off for them and they will get the satisfaction of helping out one of their own. It may not necessarily be an actually BJJ student, but perhaps a good friend or family member related to you or someone within the academy. In the school, there are multiple opportunities to find some financial assistance to compete. All you need to do is ask. Remember that these people are you biggest fans.
If you or your coach doesn’t feel comfortable soliciting from within, you need to consider outside businesses and institutions. This requires a little more effort and preplanning on your part. There are many things that you need to factor into your decision on whom to approach and how to approach them. The first step is researching potential sponsors. Find someone who is a good fit for BJJ. A music store or ballet dance studio is probably not the best place to look. Realistically, for a sponsor who doesn’t know you, this will be a business opportunity and they need to get something out of this deal. A local sports bar may be a better fit. You need to formulate a letter that explains why they will benefit from sponsoring you and what you can do for them. If you were going to the World Championships, you can tell them how many competitors will be there. You can tell them how many spectators will be there. Explain how many magazines, websites, journalists and worldwide viewers will be watching this event. Tell them how many people train in your gym and that live in the community, who are following you. Tell them how by sponsoring you, their business will be getting a return on their investment. Prove to them that you are a sound business investment. Be confident and persuasive and professional. Above all, be honest and do not promise or make claims that you can’t guarantee and back up. This is a legitimate business partnership and if you wish to be sponsored continually by them, you need to work for them.
One you find some suitable sponsors that seem to make sense for Jiu Jitsu sponsorship and you have researched them well, you need to find the contact person whom will be in charge of making any decisions regarding your potential sponsorship with them. Before you send them a letter, drop them a line or even stop by in person. Normally a business will not bother reading or responding to a letter from a stranger asking for money. Remember that in the letter, they will most likely not be able to understand your drive, passion and enthusiasm for the sport. However a short and sincere phone conversation and introduction will let them know to expect a package from you in the near future.
In the letter you send them afterwards, you should include a breakdown of what the money you request will be going towards, i.e. Travel, lodging and registration fees. Also include some info about who you are and your competition record. They need to know why sponsoring you will help them get a return on their donation and how you will help them for their contributions. This has to be in more than just a logo on your Gi. In today’s age of internet marketing, you can explain to them, that you will be mentioned on your Facebook page, your website or Blog if you have one. You will put them as a web link on your signature and mention them in Jiu Jitsu forums and if you win, you will proudly mention and display who they are. You will wear their patch and make youtube videos and get their name publicized as much as yours. Let them know that your name is out there and theirs will be out there with it!
Another must is having a well written letter. If you have the grammatical skills and persuasive ability of an angry 10 year old, get a friend to help write it. A professional organization will only respond to you if you are presenting them with a well organized and well written proposal. There are probably plenty of people in the academy that would be willing to help you out in this endeavor. When writing the letter, don’t sound desperate and do not beg for money. Some people include pictures of themselves during tournaments. This is a personal preference, whether or not you include one. The idea behind this is they will see a good photo of you in action and understand the environment you compete in and where they may be advertising. Do not include a picture unless it presents you in a positive light and try to have a good photo taken with a decent camera if you decide to go this route. It would be counterproductive to give them a cheap, blurry Polaroid of you in the locker room with a plastic medal around your neck!
This brings us to the point that the process of trying to find a sponsor should begin well ahead of time. Some companies have major red tape and protocol to sort out before deciding on granting you sponsorship. If you are patient and prepared, you may be successful. When asking for funds, remember, it’s better to get one main sponsor than to have a dozen small contributions. You don’t want to look like a patchwork quilt on the mat with 15 small logos and patches on your Gi! When you approach an organization you feel has good potential, ask for more money than you actually need. This will give you some room to negotiate ad still leave all of your expenses covered for the tournament. You also don’t want them to feel as if they are getting some second rate fighter. Exude confidence in your ability as a fighter and person so that they feel as if they are sponsoring a quality contender and individual. Remember the work you put in to BJJ on the mats…that’s the person they are getting when they sponsor you. Let them know that.
If you follow these steps and you do get sponsorship, keep them updated periodically as to how you are doing and how training is going. Emails and letters and periodic phone calls will remind them of the fact that you appreciate you partnership and this may help maintain the relationship you build with them for years to come. If you don’t work for them in some capacity, you can probably forget ever getting money from them again. It’s typically easier to get sponsored by an upstart equipment company compared to an established Jiu Jitsu gear company with big named fighters sponsored by them or a local business not related to the sport. You may be able to obtain lots of free gear and equipment, but this probably will not cover the costs of a major competition. It will however help offset the expenses involved in training and can translate to more money in your budget for competitions.
Some people may have difficulty finding a local business to help. If this is the case, you need to go out and look at different venues to find them. If you want to meet the people that may potentially help you with sponsorship in the future, one option is to think about ways in which you and or the academy can do volunteer work in the local community. This is an excellent chance to meet other individuals who could possibly introduce you to potential sponsors in the future that will remember you for your charity work. It will also show local business owners the type of people they are dealing with and make it more likely that they will want to help you. This is a good chance to get you and your schools name out there in a positive light. It’s all about the exposure for a business to see their potential gain. Hopefully by using some of these tips you can get some financial help to assist you in following your dreams and get to do what you love, for free.
Sponsored fighters at the 2012 IBJJF World Championships
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Reading to Improve BJJ...Part 2
Reading short articles of a page or 2 in length are appropriate for the purpose of stimulating the brain before Jiu Jitsu as we are just “activating” our brains to gear them up and set an overall emotional mood and stimulate cognitive areas of the brain involved in learning, memory and motivation to bring positive energy and results into the day or training session. Further reading in great detail has huge benefits that are beyond the scope of what I’m prepared to write about here, but essentially the more you read, the smarter you will become overall and certainly within the context of your subject of choice. As BJJ practitioners, we are generally limited in the amount of material out there, but the more you do read, the better your game will become. Fortunately more and more material is being written by people in the sport for us to choose from. We can cross over into other athletic fields and learn much from the researched material as it may have a similar benefit, such as wrestling, judo, swimming, track and weight training to name a few. Training ideas can be found with scientific research backing up many of the theories presented and incorporated into our jiu jitsu.
But as far as the benefits of reading for daily motivation, we are restricted temporally to a few minutes in order to help direct us towards our individual goals. A good way to start the morning upon waking up is to get a short piece that has positive emotional qualities. Uplifting and positive reading material will help to get our attitudes and emotional states aligned with our expected outcomes and goals. A book of quotations is excellent for this purpose. Unless you have an advanced degree in history, political science or philosophy, you will probably be introduced to a good number of people whom you may never have heard of, but will probably be able to learn a lot about and from. Famous presidents and generals in history are excellent sources of inspirational quotes. Sun Tzu, Patton, Napoleon, Julius Caesar are examples of people who offer great material to read. Perhaps Gandhi, The Dalai Lama or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be a benefit for others.
Jiu Jitsu quotes are easy enough to find if you look online for them with a quick search engine query. Due to the nature of how many pro fighters arose to glory, you may find them both inspirational and hilarious. See some of Rampage Jackson quotes if you want a better idea of what I mean by hilarious. There are also many other stories about athletes overcoming adversity and beating the odds. The inspirational material will trigger combinations of hormones, endorphins and chemicals that will stay in the blood stream for sometime benefitting us throughout the day as we work, train, compete and live. This is where a little preplanning goes a long way.
There are plenty of BJJ magazines and websites with excellent information out there that offer fantastic reading opportunities to improve one’s BJJ knowledge while strengthening one’s mind. A trip to local book store or google search will return seemingly endless possibilities. As fighter’s we are always finding new ways to strengthen our bodies but we often neglect the single most important aspect of jiu jitsu, which is our brains. The nature of the material you read will help guide you through the type of mood you desire to be the underlying essence of how you feel throughout the day while potentially providing you with excellent technical knowledge of the sport and its practitioners and history. If you wish to train hard, you can read an article on the importance of hard work and effort. If you wish to gear up for a major competition or fight, a story of success or that of a champion fighter will hopefully help to inspire greatness.
Whatever direction you chose, you will ultimately be able to choose your reading material based on your own personal interests and requirements as a fighter and an athlete. As with most things Jiu Jitsu related, this is beneficial in other areas of life as well. Many of my students who have tried these techniques have come back to tell me that this opened an entirely new area of their minds and they have begun to make huge gains on the mats. When you have found yourself hitting a plateau in your game, you may want to try something new out. This technique is so simple and logical that once you think about it is hard not to understand how and why it will be a huge benefit to anyone who commits to it.
Once the flood gates have been opened, there is no turning back and the new knowledge you acquire through a little reading will manifest itself through your physical actions in the gym and on the mat. The BJJ you learn in class and in reading will permeate into your subconscious and have more pathways to reach your periphery when called upon. Often this will happen in a subtle way. You will react without thought to an opponent’s advances and flow instinctively. This can be achieved by repetition in the gym and through a little reading. When this begins, you will notice the change in your game and huge strides you will begin to make.
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