I was recently promoted to the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt. On a special night of celebration at our headquarters in Irvine, CA I received the honors from my instructor, Master Carlos Gracie Jr.
Even though nothing has essentially changed with this new rank, it definitely brought perspective into my Jiu-Jitsu journey and shed light onto the central role Jiu-Jitsu plays in my life.
I look back and realize that all the physical training justified by the exciting goal of being the best in the world was just my initiation to a lifelong journey of dedication, discipline, sacrifice, and service.
I had no idea Jiu-Jitsu was eventually going to become a path of enlightenment, allowing me to get to know myself better and develop not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
“There is more to Jiu-Jitsu than the physical aspects of practice!” I remind students often. If we pay attention and allow Jiu-Jitsu to make a difference in our lives by applying what you learned on the mats to daily life, we open ourselves up to an exciting path of personal growth that helps us make large steps to improve on what really matters to us.
Now I ask you: Is Jiu-Jitsu something you do, or is it part of you?
Before you answer this question, try to reflect on the meaning of each class. What is your motivation for going to practice, how are you reacting to your struggles, and what is your idea of a good day on the mats?
Jiu-Jitsu becomes part of you when learning and growth are your primary goal, when you welcome defeat and the pain that comes with it.
Jiu-Jitsu becomes part of you when you savor victory with humility and embrace the challenge as a constant in your life instead of a stage you want to get through.
Jiu-Jitsu becomes part of you when people start to define you as a martial artist. All of a sudden you are no longer a doctor, you are a black belt doctor. You are no longer a father, you are a black belt father. You are no longer a teacher, you are a black belt teacher.
Jiu-Jitsu becomes part of you when your beloved ones become a source of support instead of resistance to your Jiu-Jitsu journey. Your wife, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your boss, etc encourage you to endure the struggles and push through some tough times on the mats because they realize Jiu-Jitsu brings you balance and make you a better person in everything else you do.
So I ask you again: Is Jiu-Jitsu something you do, or is it part of you?
It does not take two decades of training for Jiu-Jitsu to become a central part of your life. This is more a matter of motives, vision, open mindedness, discipline, sacrifice, and unselfishness.
Needless to say I believe Jiu-Jitsu should be part of you and not only something you do. The journey to the black belt and beyond will require too much from you and it will only make sense if you allow your training to influence who you are as a person, helping you to search and find the best version of yourself.
See you on the mats,
P.S. I wrote this after receiving an email from our brown belt Matt Blasdel. He send me the picture you saw above which was drawn by his daughter as a fathers day gift.