Is Jiu Jitsu Really For Everyone?
Exploring this common adage...
An adage has been floating around the Jiu Jitsu community for a while. The adage is, “Jiu Jitsu is for everyone.” As I write this I wonder if it is true. My back has been hurting. It has been hurting all week. I am taking more ibuprofen than someone really should. I have been doing yoga. But it is still hurting. Yesterday an old rib injury flared up. Today it is better. Tomorrow, who knows? I will wake up at 5 AM tomorrow to roll for an hour with a cop. He has 75 pounds on me. We will roll for an hour. I will love every minute of it. But I wonder, is this lifestyle really for everyone?
Jiu Jitsu is hard. It is harder than I ever thought it would be. The late great Anthony Bourdain said this about Jiu Jitsu, “I do it because it’s hard. Because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And because it never ends. Every day presents me with a series of problems that I spend the rest of the day thinking about how I might solve — or at least chip away at. Next day same. And the day after that.”
Former Navy Seal Jocko Willink said it another way, ““I loved teaching the guys as much as I could, and as much as they wanted. The thing about Jiu Jitsu is it is also not for everybody. It can be very humiliating and humbling. If you have a hard time dealing with the fact that someone smaller than you may be able to tap you out, it is going to be difficult. There are two reactions you can have to that reality. Some people take it as a reason to learn more so that it doesn’t happen again, and some people decide to do that by never stepping into a gym again. You really never know who will make what decision. For me, I knew I wanted to be able to make sure that it wouldn’t be done to me, and I would be able to do it to other people.”
Not everyone wants the struggle of an endless set of problems to solve. Not everyone wants to face defeat on a daily basis. Most normal people will run from this.
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I am reminded of Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, as a punishment for his bad behavior, Sisyphus was cursed to roll a heavy stone up a hill for an eternity. When he had the stone near the top of the hill it would inevitably roll back down the hill.
Jiu Jitsu is like the struggle of Sisyphus. Those who stay fall in love with the struggle. They like the endless set of problems to solve. They like how hard it is. They are willing to accept that ego will be killed daily when you inevitably tap. They do not mind that the stone will roll back down the hill. But it is definitely not for everyone…
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