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"It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left" - Chris Haueter
Ill never forget when I heard Chris Haueter utter that phrase in the BJJ documentary “Roll”. I had to pause for a moment and really reflect on what those words meant. They are almost liberating. Many of us obsess and stress so heavily over our BJJ progress and the time we devote to it, that we don’t often stop to think how special it is that we are on the mat. That we are making the most of the amazing opportunity that is jiu-jitsu. No matter how large or small your efforts are to keep BJJ a constant in your life, you have to remember, you’re training, and many are not. Life may pull you away at times, and the amount of time you dedicate to BJJ may fluctuate, but you don’t stop.
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Especially at the beginner level we see such an eagerness to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in the shortest amount of time possible. But jiu-jitsu for the average person is a life-long endeavor, and it’s a product of slow growth. There’s nothing wrong with that. It may be hard to grasp at first, but the process of cultivating something very special over a period of many years and thousands of hours is something to be incredibly proud of.
We keep our place in BJJ by not stopping. We watch lots of people come and go. Some stints are shorter than others, but quitting is a reality of BJJ training. Not everyone is going to stay. Even the most avid competitors, and beasts of the mat will be forgotten when they’re gone. Trophies, belts, victories, and promotions don’t make you memorable, your presence does.
The respect that is earned over the course of a student pursuing a black belt far outweighs that of any accolades achieved by someone who quits. The energy, effort, and dedication that’s required to stick it out for the long haul requires that you continually adapt your life to fit BJJ in it. This is no small feat. As our lives change, and we experience the new dynamics it presents us with, ensuring that our BJJ training has a place in it can be challenging, but we do it.
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Will you be one of the ones that is left? Are you willing to take things as they come and adapt as you must to keep training? I find once you reach a certain point, there is no going back, and you’re in for life, barring any major events or unforeseen circumstances. Where was this point for you? If it ‘still early on in your journey, do you see yourself sticking with BJJ for life? Or are you more concerned about short term gratification or training forever?
The long game is the tougher avenue for certain, but it is also the more rewarding one. As we look back over our voyages as career BJJ practitioners, we will feel a deep sense of pride for all that we have endured, accomplished, and experienced. We will be well versed in knowing that there is still so much more to learn, and realize, and no matter how many times we’re presented with this ideal, it will be a welcome notion.