If you do jiu-jitsu, I’m grateful to you. If you’re a world champion, blazing a path ahead for everyone behind you, I’m thankful for you. If you’re a white belt, struggling through your first few months, I bow my head to you. Jiu-Jitsu is not and cannot be a solitary act. We are all dependent on the community to produce training partners, competitors, and coaches to join us on this path. Every single person you encounter in this sport has value to offer you. If you think that they don’t, then I encourage you to open your mind up a little more.
From the high rank that always crushes you during in training, you can learn defense, and the patience to endure. You can see a place that you might one day be and give yourself a goal to chase after. From the low rank who offers you no challenge, you can learn grace, and the patience to teach. You can be a part of elevating the ability and enriching the life of another human being. From the overweight beginner, who still struggles to do the movement drills, you can see that you always have the power to make a change. From the old man, who started jiu-jitsu far past his prime, you can see that its never too late to chase your goals.
Every single person that you roll with becomes a part of your jiu-jitsu. Every person, with their unique tendencies, bodies, and abilities, shapes the form that your jiu-jitsu ultimately takes. The one who submits you at competition will motivate you to take your defense to new heights. The classmate that escapes everything you throw at them will force you to innovate and sharpen your finishes. Even the person who gets caught by everything allows you to practice your techniques over and over and learn to move with fluidity and control. Our jiu-jitsu is covered with the marks and scars left by the ones we’ve shared the mat with.
Perhaps no one deserves more gratitude than our coaches though. These are the people that sacrifice their time (and often their financial stability) to invest themselves wholly in others, many of whom they will no longer know a year from now. They pour themselves into class plans and study their students to see what still needs improvement. They fight hard in competitions, making countless mistakes, suffering defeats and injuries, all for the benefit of those who will come after them. They are the distillation of grace and humility, as they devote their lives to training people to surpass them. They push themselves to the breaking point, all so the generation that follows them can go just a little bit farther. They are the heroes that taught you to shrimp. Showed you the kimura. That yelled from the sidelines when you got your first win. No one deserves more gratitude than these people.
Jiu-jitsu forces us to come together. It is our training partners that allow us to breath life into the art of jiu-jitsu, to play and counter-play. It is the tug of war between our ideas and effort that forces us to grow and change. As the rest of the community elevates, we all work harder to keep up. We seek share our knowledge and encourage one another. We work to build a sense of solidarity and kinship that has been lost to the times. We build a real community. So, to everyone who gets on the mats and gives it their all, thank you for doing jiu-jitsu.
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