There's a student of mine, early 20's, athletic and pleasant, that always come to class late. Now I know he's coming right from work so I don't give a hard time. The obligatory "You're late Sir" Is spoken, he nods, smiles and jumps right into the rhythm of class. He's getting ready for his blue belt test and works incredibly hard. Like I said he's pleasant to have in the class, laughs and has great camaraderie with some of the other men. One time during class, I caught him off to the side, perhaps during a water break, looking at himself in our studio mirrors. I smiled and said, "SIr, a mirror doesn't show you what is in your heart." He laughed it off and others took in my words. The ego will always mislead you. In that moment I taught your training of this martial arts has nothing to do the externals. Whether your agile, strong, flexible or quick, Jiu jitsu rewards only the weak.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an incredible brutal martial art. It demands supreme patience and a relearning of the body dynamic. Since we don't have many belts, one can spend years as a White, Blue, Purple, Brown and then Black. In having my own dojo, I made it a point not to teach for tournaments. Learning about the art and how it applies to your life is the ultimate match. I see men come into the dojo with their life struggles, resisting to the relaxing nature of the dojo or refusing to let the lesson take over their mind and body. They resist, inflexible to the point of injury, of being put in a positions of weakness. This "weakness" in their western mind equates vulnerability and no man likes to look weak in front of other men. It is what is it.
So teaching, with whatever patience God gives me that day, often soothes my soul, leading me farther away from drink and despair. As important it is to teach great technique, I find it more important to teach men to be relaxed, kind and yes, weak. With that new body dynamic that I talked about earlier, much of the techniques are based on different hip, core and lower back movement. Those moves cannot be taught to a rigid mind and stiff body. So the journey can take years to unlearn and learn. It has taken me years of unlearning bad habits to attain this peace I find everytime I practice jiu jitsu.
I stumbled last night with a talk I had. I had just finished training, showered and ate, feeling really good about my day. I had thought the conversation was suppose to be a certain way. I had already in my mind, what the conversation, it's mood and tenderness, was gonna be! Well, it wasn't and I did not adhere to my own lesson of the day, in that moment my mind and heart were rigid and unbending. Whats in your heart Paul? The teacher, I'm often reminded, never stops being the student. What a gift this martial art can be. It keeps me honest, even after I fail.