Sometimes we wake up energized and ready to attack the day while others we tend to lag behind. So too in Jiu Jitsu do we have days where we feel like our 20 year old version walloping every partner that comes before us along with days where we regret stepping foot in the dojo. Understand, that the instances where you are tired and possibly under motivated could be the best opportunity for you to develop your true Jiu Jitsu in addition to your will power and inner strength. It wasn’t until I met Saulo and Xande Ribeiro that I realized, only when you are tired and void of your natural physical advantages do you truly learn what is leverage and what is not. The need for excellent timing also arises as you are no longer able to muscle through sweeps and submissions as you once were. How do we apply this to life? With the exact same skill and cunning we use to survive and get the tap in Jiu Jitsu.
“Man the f*** up!”, a phrase spoken for decades from high school and college weight rooms to business meetings and military boot camps. Nowadays such words are frowned upon. But why? Since when did being a raw beast of a man who could protect his family and work hard towards the ultimate goal of survival and prosperity become a bad thing? One could argue since modernity led to an easier and more comfortable way of life, the result is an intellectual culture who lacks respect for the hardened individuals who made our cushy lives possible. The sailors who brought us to this land, the warriors who fought for it and the workers who built upon it.
This is not to say that there is no room for change or that this is the only way, but rather an acknowledgement that manliness and masculinity has always existed, and rightfully so. Being a man doesn’t need to be nice, it doesn’t need to be pretty, it needs to be survival. Survival of family and survival of the tribe. Getting it done, no matter what it looks like. The famous general Napoleon Bonaparte was recognized for his victories on the battlefield which meant putting emotions aside and completing the task. You can be assured that failing to do your job resulted in a verbal lashing in order to secure victory and reduce casualties. Being a man means that sometimes the ends do justify the means, so man the f*** up and get it done whether it’s in the classroom or in the workplace.
Every person who has committed to a worthwhile endeavor or project has met the realization of the time and energy required to create something worthy of admiration. Be it a work of art, a legacy, a societal contribution or any other personal achievement, one is faced with the sheer hours required to produce anything of value. What we must come to terms with is the fact that in any undertaking, we must treat each day like a gardener, doing only what we can with the understanding that like a fine wine, our end goal can only be reached with time.
For many of us there comes a time in life where we are forced into uncomfortable situations. They can come in the form of losing your job, having to go on unemployment, living beneath your supposed standards, an apology for something you feel you be vindicated, etc. Never has the tool of “humble pie” been so valuable to an individual. Taking a spoon of humble pie not only reminds us that we are human, but is a lesson in gratitude for every day that we live and walk this earth, an experience not every living thing is entitled to under the rule of Mother Nature herself. Enjoy that humble pie and you will enjoy the spoon that follows, it can only get better!
Did you know that fighters are some of the most sensitive people on the planet? How fitting is it that the toughest strongest athletes on earth often hide behind a fierce demeanor and an impressive record. What escapes the eye of many is the SENSITIVITY needed to be good at fighting at the highest levels. It used to be my impression that because a fighter lacked eloquence they were not smart, but this could not be farther from the truth. Like race car driving, fighters learn to operate within the smallest margins for error requiring them to not only be intelligent but utilize extreme sensitivity to their opponents movements, breathing, intentions, deceptions, etc. While behind these savages’ tough appearance there is often a kitten of a person that likes to laugh, joke, cry and have fun, just like you and I. It is also important to use your words carefully around these individuals because most fighters become who they are through diligent observance and understanding the meaning of things as they relate to fighting. The last thing you want to deal with is an enraged bull in a China shop 😉 the other lesson here is to treat everyone with kindness and respect, you never know when you’re going to come face to face with the type of dog that wags it’s tail at the thought of combat!
Recently on Audible I began listening to a book titled “Why We Sleep?” written by Matthew Walker. As self explanatory as it sounds, Matt is quick to convince you of the time tested method of restoring biological function for almost any organism and it’s many trivialities. For those interested in better quality of sleep it is a must read or listen. Like any endeavor, such as going to the gym or practicing Jiu Jitsu, it is necessary to have a consistent schedule or routine. Contrary to my previous belief, getting a good sleep once a week is not enough as it produces unpredictable behaviors for your brain to try and follow. At the same time, many of us “gotta do what we gotta do” but understand that you possess a method that will physically and mentally yield you one of the greatest advantages you may know. Best of all, it is free!
At the end of the day, we are all hunters, whether we opt for a carnivorous or vegan way of life. Even in the business and professional world do we take on the roles of hunter, contributing to the ecosystem with our efforts. Like hunters, if we are no good at our job, we will likely go hungry and die, a cruel sounding yet present fact.
After recently obtaining my California hunters safety card, I learned that being a hunter is much more than “hunting”. Allow me to explain. Hunters have their place in wildlife just as humans do and are vital to the ecological balance. Being a hunter is actually humane. Hunters prevent population overflow, something that occurs when a species (boar, deer) has no natural predator. This prevents the animal from over populating and ruining the vegetation or preying on other animals. An example of this is wild boars in Texas, the average boar gives birth to liters of 8-12 and begins mating at 16 weeks! With no natural predator, these animals roam about destroying the land and preying on smaller mammals. These pigs have become such a pest that no license is necessary to hunt them.
Furthermore, being a good hunter is about respecting others, hunter or non hunter as well as animals. Good hunters should always look to take the cleanest shot, ending the hunt as cleanly and quickly as possible. Wildlife conservation helps determine the species that should be hunted, outlawing the hunting of endangered or low populated species. Animals typically die of predation and starvation so all things considered, a shot to the heart is one of the quickest ways it will die. Additionally it provides good clean meat that can be used to feed your family. Experienced hunters also avoid being wasteful and make sure they use as much of the animal as possible.
We’ve all had our moments where we were struck by reality. In my case it was attempting to stay in a freezing pool for 5-10 minutes which might have lasted a whole 30 seconds. For others it may be going on a bike ride they’ve completed before only to be met with the feeling of lead for legs followed by cramps. These moments are important because not only do they test our will but it is almost as if it were the universe’s way of reminding us of our place while daring us to do better. We can swallow our pride and strive to overcome the challenge or we can simply accept defeat. Regardless, it is natures way of objectively showing us where we stand and how we can progress.
Today I woke up with a nagging shoulder injury. Of course it happened the day before I was scheduled to work with a private group of women in the Palm Springs area. Luckily, and thanks to some CBD roll on and my ever trusted Aleve, by the time I got there it had loosened up. The self defense course went on without any hiccups and 90 minutes went by in a flash. After finishing up, I headed back to Six Blades Jiu Jitsu La Quinta to watch the rest of Open Mat. While watching the other students train I was reminded of the importance of limiting yourself in ways which force you to develop weaknesses and how an injury can force you to do just that. I recall watching Xande Ribeiro training just months after an intensive surgery with a cast on. Interestingly, what stands out about Xande’s Jiu Jitsu is his ability to fight anytime, anywhere, under any rule set, something not many fighters boast. To do this, one must possess an unparalleled level of adaptability developed through years of training through less than ideal circumstances. To understand this fully, the next time something bothers you, if you do not believe it deserves medical attention, go train with the sole focus of protecting yourself and surviving until your moment of opportunity arises. Not only will this be challenging but it will prepare you for the upcoming battles ahead by developing the proper mentality of survival punctuated by your attacks.
It’s the last day of training for the week, everything is feeling great, you are at your best physically, mentally and even feeling motivated. Then, crash!!! You are reminded of your mortality by a snap, crackle pop. As the realization of an injury sets in, negative thoughts begin to fill your mind. This is only the beginning, later on the pain begins to set in filling you with even more doubt of whether or not you are really made for this sport.
What happened to the days where you almost never got injured? Truth be told, injuries occur when you least expect it but there is always something to be gained by them. You must never allow your thinking to shift from how you plan to overcome the situation you have been dealt. Rather than feeling sorry for yourself because your competitors are out there training as you recover, think about how you will use this moment to become your wiser, more determined self. As Jordan Peterson puts it “Life is about learning lessons through struggle” and that is exactly what injuries are. Like many of life’s unchosen circumstances, they will in fact define you but you get to choose how.