Words by Professor Piet Wilhelm
When I was in the military I was addressed by rank (it was something that you earned) unless I was a part of a small team then we addressed one another by last name. In some cases even by first name. I understand why in the martial arts culture individuals are addressed as coach, professor, and master. And for some they get very sensitive when they are not called by their title.
I came into this world as Piet Wilhelm. I earned the title Staff Sergeant while I was in the Marines. I was given the title Professor by my instructor Master Renato Tavares Bjj. I am first and foremost a father and a husband. I am not a professor nor a Staff Sergeant to my wife or children. My grave will read: Piet Wilhelm
As a martial artist now I try to look at myself as the one being employed by my students. It is a special balance though. Although I am employed by over 500 people we have to respect one another. As an instructor I’m turned to for guidance on and off the mat. I mentor children that get an attitude from time to time with their parents. And it is my place to show them the way.
I don’t demand my students to call me Professor. I am not gonna get my britches in a woad if they don’t. If they do let it be a term of endearment and not entitlement. I do ask to not be called Coach. In my opinion a coach looks to win trophies and medals; although we have a few. My goal is to make you a champion off the mat by being a decent human being and to be successful in life.
I’ve made many mistakes along the way. My wisdom is based off of what I have endured and what I have done. In some cases things I have witnessed and experience.