Nowhere


After a competition class, two months ago perhaps, we were all sitting together and listening. Perhaps there are persons in my audience who remember when, after a long and thoughtful speech, this question was put to us:

“Where would you rather be?”

Though the question seems simple, it is only deceptively so. Where would I rather be? When I’m at jiu-jitsu, is there some other place I would rather be? I don’t know. Nothing immediately came to my mind when he asked. But the answer runs deeper.

Look at us. Look and consider what it is that we do: laboring away for countless hours on The Gentle Art; distilling technique from instruction, and through struggle; training through injuries uncounted and uncountable; sharpening a knife’s edge on our skills; forcing on our bodies the demands required by life on the mats; and anguishing not pain or weakness or fear, but time spent away from from our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

That is the predicament for some of us.  And in some capacity, it describes every single jiu-jitsu practitioner. And the moment I realized this, the answer to the question became obvious.

When I’m in class and feel my concentration slipping, I ask myself “Where would I rather be?” Afterward, my focus will return. Or my motivation, after a pitiless on-the-mats beating. Pausing for moment to ask myself the question has stopped me from setting fire to my belt on at least one occasion. Even during the training days of late, which have been spent patching holes in my game – and it’s those kinds of days when I (You) become so barefacedly aware of my (your) lacking technical expertise, or of this feeling like I (You) don’t know a single goddamn thing at all about jiu-jitsu – can I think of some other place I’d rather be? I mean, where would I rather be? Nowhere. Here is where I’d rather be. Here. On the mats, with my friends. Patching away at the problem areas, one solution at a time.

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