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Jiu Jitsu – The Answer to Entitlement

Jiu Jitsu – The Answer to Entitlement


We hear people cluck their tongues all the time about how entitled the younger generations are, about how they think everything should be handed to them, and about how they’re not willing to work for anything.

They’re right—but it’s not just the younger generations who think they’re entitled.  The truth is, we’ve become a society that feels we’re entitled to praise for our least efforts.  And we throw temper tantrums when we don’t get heaped with praise.

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In my day job as a college professor, I see this behavior all the time.  To be fair, I see it in both my students as well as my colleagues and administrators.  But I deal with it most often with students. The scenario runs like this: a student does some minimal amount of work on an essay (usually the night before it’s due), turns it in, and then charges to my office when they don’t get that big fat A that they wanted.  

They always say the same thing: “I deserve a better grade.”  I always respond with, “Why?” And they say, “I worked really hard on it.”  Then, the conversation always goes the same way, with me questioning them on their definition of what “really hard” actually means and showing them why their work falls far short of that of other writers. About half the time, they go away still believing that they’ve been cheated.

Since I began training, there’s been another train of thought running through my head all the while I’m having this conversation with students.  I’m thinking about what my coach would say if I walked up to him and demanded a promotion. I’m wondering if he’d laugh in my face or just choke me unconscious?  

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But more than anything, I’m thinking about how cut and dried Jiu Jitsu is. I’m wishing the rest of life was the same way. There is no opportunity for entitlement when you’re rolling.  If the choke doesn’t work, it doesn’t. If you can’t escape from side control, that’s it; you’re going to stay in side control until your opponent decides—and not one second before.

Entitlement is built on our faulty judgement about ourselves and the quality of our work.  Entitlement happens when we deny our ignorance instead of facing it and addressing our deficiencies.  Jiu Jitsu, on the other hand, is beautiful for its ability to cut right through those judgement and exaggerated perceptions we hold about ourselves.  You can’t quibble with a choke, and if you try, you’ll just pass out. Argument over. Truth delivered.

Admittedly, not everyone can handle that truth.  We’ve all seen the new faces that disappear after the first class.  A lot of people realize right away that training Jiu Jitsu means their ego will be in for a bruising, and they don’t want to face it.  On the other hand, our regular training partners seem to have no egos at all.

They’re so much easier to get along with than the people at work.  Our training partners have faced the hard truth. Despite being monsters on the mats, it’s made them humbler and gentler. Maybe that’s another reason it’s called “the gentle art?”

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