Jiu-Jitsu and Honesty


Today, I started writing something. But every time I did, I noticed that there were particular themes, particular phrases which seemed familiar to me. Why, I could not exactly say. So I started to do a little digging through the things I’ve been reading for the past several months. And I found such a magnificent expression of honesty in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that it makes a lot more sense to just share the wisdom with you, as opposed to writing my own hackneyed, bastardized version. Without further ado:

“When I found jiu-jitsu, I was at a phase in my life where I was open to learning it. I was at a phase in my life when I needed to help define who I wanted to be as I grew older. Jiu-Jitsu filled that void, for a variety of reasons. The most important is that I was at a phase in my life where I needed a sense of self-actualization, and a sense of pure honesty.

Jiu-Jitsu is the most honest activity you could possibly have. Unlike some other traditional martial arts, unlike some sports, unlike any endeavor you may have in your life, there is an automatic bullshit detector associated with jiu-jitsu – it’s called the mat. You can walk in and you can say all you want about how tough you are, how strong you are, how fast you are, how effective you may be, how many titles you may have, or even what kind of person you are, in terms of how you treat other people. But the second you get on that mat, none of that matters. The only things that matter are “How do you apply the technique?”, “Can you make it work against a fully-resisting opponent?”, “How do you treat your training partner?”, “How do you treat your opponent?”.

All these things make you realize there is no hiding in jiu-jitsu. You can’t hide from yourself; you can’t hide from hard work; you can’t hide from the challenges your opponents provide; and you can’t even hide from the teachings your instructor is trying to give you. For me, the most profound impact its had on my life is that it made me realize that through jiu-jitsu, I could be the most honest person I could be. I could walk on the mat, let go of any ego, let go of any expectation, let go of any disappointment, let go of any bravado, and just be who I was. I could change that person, the person who I was, through hard work, and through good technique, and through jiu-jitsu.

Today, 13 or 15 years later, I’m a much better person. Not just on the mat, but off. Because I went through that detector on the mat, putting in the hard work, trying to be one of those people who wanted to last through all the challenges and persevere, and be in a situation where that honesty could impact my life in a fight, in a self-defense situation, off the mats when dealing with my regular life, and interacting with people. You want to talk about the impact its had on my life? It’s changed my life dramatically. I am a different person now because of jiu-jitsu.” – unsourced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt

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2 thoughts on “Jiu-Jitsu and Honesty

  1. I’ve been looking forward to this post since you mentioned it yesterday, and it turned out really well. While I would definitely like to hear more from this very eloquent BJJ black belt, I was still left wanting a bit more of your input on the matter. It’s been some time since we’ve gotten some original Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer material! Anyway, many thanks for the great post.

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