My good friend Carl Fisher aka the Fighting photographer, who has a great blog (check it out) wrote a very interesting piece about the rewards of not giving up when things get hard. I’m sure that you will enjoy it.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an awesome martial art and for me, it has taken me all over the world, to places I would never dreamed about going to when I was younger. The Arte Suave has given me so many positive life experiences, which I am at pains to pass onto my students. Travel. See The World. Before you settle down and have kids, get out and see some far off exotic location and you can bet your bottom dollar, there’ll be a BJJ gym nearby.
Yes, BJJ has taken me all over the world and I am a very humbled man because of it; that said, BJJ has a flip side. At various times in one’s jiu jitsu journey, BJJ can be one of the most frustrating, demoralising, soul destroying pastimes ever invented. What motivates a person to continually go down to their local club and get their a*s handed to them on a plate, week in week out? As a white belt you are mat fodder for the higher grades. Your guard is passed. You’re swept for fun. Your mounted with ease. You get the drift. It doesn’t get any easier when you make the step up to blue belt and beyond; as a newly minted coloured belt, you’re back at the bottom of the ladder and have to go through all the things you had to deal with at white belt. Only the skill level is higher and the beat downs more sould destroying. At this point, many people succumb to the dreaded ‘belt-itis’ and stop training for good.
Just think. All those hours on the mats as a white belt training like mad; watching endless DVD’s and technique clips on You Tube. All that money spent on gi’s and training equipment, travelling to seminars, having private classes. All that money, time and effort is duly rewarded with a new belt and then BAM! Belt-itis kicks in and you’re no longer seen on the mats. Tragic!
There are times when you go home beaten and broken and think ‘why the f*ck do I put up with sh*t?’ Sadly, most people arrive at this point and hang up their gi, never to return, just when they are at the point of making real progress. I recently read an article about Ralph Gracie and how brutal his classes were in the early days; Ralph’s head coach and BJJ legend Kurt Osiander recalls in an interview, that he would go home and throw his gi’s in the bin and say to himself ‘I don’t need this sh*t in my life’, then go and sit down and feel sorry for himself. Upon calming down, he realised he couldn’t give in and throw in the towel and would go back to the bin, take the gi’s back out and carry on training.
I am sure that many people reading this have at some point in their training felt like Kurt, ready to throw in the towel; I know I have on many occasions. I’ve thrown my training bag down on the floor, kicked it a few times and said ‘enough is enough!’ ‘I’m sick to death of being tapped out, etc etc’ and generally feeling sorry for myself.
After stewing in my own juices and calming down, I think to myself, ‘if I quit what will everyone say?’ All the people that have listened to me say how great BJJ is, suddenly see me quitting, what will they say? Thoughts like that make me change my outlook and once again I have that fire in the belly and a never say die spirit.
My good friend, black belt Eddie Kone gave a small speech at the end of one of his seminars I attended a few years ago; Eddie spoke of the role of acceptance within one’s BJJ training. He said that if you can accept the fact that when you start BJJ, you will be getting tapped out time after time, then the jounrey will become a lot easier. Accept the fact that when you compete, you either win or lose, so when you lose take the positives from the fight, dust yourself down and fight again. Accept the fact that you will have good days and bad days on the mats with your team mates and on the competition mat. These words of wisdom from Eddie have helped me immensely on my journey and for those of you at the start of the journey, please take note of this paragraph. Acceptance.
For me, this has been a constant in my BJJ life; for weeks on end BJJ is the be all and end all in my life; other times it’s a pain in the a*s and I’m trying to think of excuses to leave it all behind and leave for good. Deep down though, I know I couldn’t leave BJJ, it’s been in my life for so long; I have made so many friends around the world, as well as in my gym to throw it all away. I have reached brown belt and many people quit at blue belt, succumbing to ‘belt-itis’ and to quit now would be insane, but I still hit that wall from time to time and I am writing this to help the white belts that are ready to throw in the towel.
Your journey has just begun; stick at it and carry on through the highs and lows. When the chips are down and you’re getting tapped for fun, keep on going, ride through it and come back for more. Start to develop a never say die attitude, take the highs and lows and keep on keeping on. Speak to the higher grades in the club if you are having any problems with any part of your game, don’t stew on it and keep it bottled in. Speak to your instructor, that’s what they are there for; tell them you’re stuck trying to get a sweep or guard pass to work. Speak to them if you’re low on motivation – let your instructor know! They are not mind readers, but a good instructor will be there for you every step of the way, for they have been there way before you and have the experience and advice to hand out.
So, what’s it to be?
Winner or quitter??