What Are The BJJ "IFs"?
BJJ is a struggle. It is a struggle every day against our training partners and opponents, but more importantly, it is a struggle against our pride and our ego. Ask yourself, honestly, how many training sessions do you go home from not feeling completely humbled? I would argue that it wasn't a good training session if BJJ or your team doesn't find a way to humble you. And that is the beauty of BJJ.
Jocko Willink is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Dean Lister. He is also a former Navy Seal Commander. Over the last few years, he has become a highly successful author, entrepreneur and podcaster, with his extremely popular Jocko Podcast available on all podcasting platforms and YouTube.
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The video below utilizes an audio clip from Episode 140 of The Jocko Podcast which opens with a poem from Rudyard Kipling entitled "If". Kipling addressed this poem to his son as a sort of lesson for him on how to live a good life and how to grow into being a good leader. Check it out for yourself!
If you want to check out the full text of Rudyard Kipling's poem, you can check it out at the Poetry Foundation link here! Let's take a look at a few lines and see how it can apply to our BJJ practice and life.
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...
Training BJJ can help you not only reduce stress, but can also help make you a better problem solver and keep you calm in times when others might not be able to. One of the first realizations I had when I started BJJ was that my hobby was now tacitly agreeing to try to kill my friends and training partners and they were trying to do the same. Like the famous line from Fight Club where the protagonist says that once he got involved with Fight Club, the volume in his everyday life got turned down.
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Being stuck under the strong, heavy side control of a younger, 250 lb training partner and staying calm and finding your way out can do more for your life than you will ever realize. What kind of job pressure can your boss or coworkers put on you that even comes close to this.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting...
Jiu Jitsu will teach you patience like nothing else. In this world of instant gratification, jiu jitsu is the antidote. BJJ is there to remind us that nothing good comes easy or quickly. It's a very commonly accepted notion that for the average grappler, you are looking at at least 10 years of practice to earn your black belt in this art. Patience and consistently training are really the only key factors in making it to the black belt. The cliche about the white belt who didn't give up is one of the universal truths of jiu jitsu. Show up and never stop showing up. That is pretty much the formula to achieving the goal of BJJ black belt.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
The jiu jitsu journey is a long one. And if you've been bitten by the bug, you will most likely understand that the rest of your life is going to be spent trying to perfect the art for yourself. Over that time, you will experience countless life circumstances that will try to stand in your way. These are usually the easiest obstacles to overcome. It is the internal obstacles that will be the hardest to shake and will haunt you the most.
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The injuries, the natural breakdown over time of the body and the frustration that comes along with dealing with injuries or just getting old can be one of the hardest things to overcome. But with perseverance and a game plan, there are many things we can do to delay the onset of time. With proper nutrition, movement training, perhaps yoga, and some additional strength and conditioning added to our routines, we can not only prevent injury and delay the natural onset of age-related concerns, we can actually make our training more enjoyable.
Take some time to read and listen to Jocko's reading of Rudyard Kipling's poem to his son "If." There are plenty of lines in there that will have you reflecting on your personal BJJ journey. For me it is the lessons of being calm in the face of conflict, being patient when every cell in my body wants to be impatient, and persevering through injuries and age-related issues no matter what that I immediately took from the piece. Take some time and look at your own BJJ "Ifs".
IF you can take the plunge and step onto the mats for the first time. IF you can come back from those tough classes. IF you can work through the inevitable aches and pains, even injuries. IF you can help your fellow students. Then the world might not be yours, but that black belt most likely will.
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