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revelation and new goals

March 3, 2008

I’ve been in a rut. Actually I’m still in it.

Originally my goals were to enter a competition here in Japan and, eventually, gain my purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (but that’s way down the line). There is a tournament next week but I couldn’t enter it because I didn’t meet the application requirements. When I found out about it I got depressed. Then with perfect timing I got the flu.

When I got better and we re-convened for training I pretty much didn’t know what to work on. So I’ve just been a live training dummy for everyone else.

Then I stumbled on Christian Graugart’s Blog and read about “getting good” in jiu-jitsu, and how it’s just a game. Both are serious looks at not being overtly serious in jiu-jitsu. Makes a lot of sense.

I mean, who am I kidding? Competition is not the end all and be all of BJJ. It’s not why I started training BJJ in the first place. And I’ve lost sight of that. I didn’t take it for self-defense. I didn’t start because I wanted to be an MMA Champion. I started because I wanted to learn a practical martial art, one that smaller practitioners of the art would not find themselves at a terrible disadvantage against larger opponents. And Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is that art.

I continued my training, not because I wanted to enter competitions or find justification in a colored belt, but because I loved rolling. Sparring is incredibly calming for me. It’s the hook. And a good roll always leaves me with a smile on my face even if I tapped out hundred times.

And the belt. My friends back home hold high ranking black belts in different martial arts and they’ve always told me that a belt is just a belt. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not what’s round your waist, but what you know and can do they always say.

My friend Andre, who spent a lot of time and money to train here in Japan under Hatsumi Masaaki, said to me one day, “Fuck the belt! You want a black belt? Here take one of mine.” And he gave the one given to him by Hatsumi. Of course I left it there at his dojo, but the message was clear. Don’t get caught up in the nonsense of ranking. I did. It’s probably why I’m so rutty now.

So I’m tossing my old goals and giving myself new goals to strive for:

Just train – very Nike like, simple, straight to the point. Put my time in on the mat. Work on things I want to, like takedowns and submissions below the waist. Work on things I should improve on, like escapes and open guard. If I find an academy nearby, great. If not, then that won’t stop me from training. I have a great system in place now. Needs more bodies but it works.

Support the art – if I can’t enter a competition, I’ll watch them. Cheer for the guy in the blue gi. Just being there will do me good and will probably open up unknown opportunities of goodness, like meeting the right, influential people in jiu-jitsu. Or I’ll just be able to watch live matches and that’s always good. I’m fine with that.

No mind, no mind – a Japanese Engrish saying. Boils down to “If things aren’t going your way or you fuck up – what can you do? Chill, relax, and don’t (no) mind it.” I’ll try to keep this in mind whenever I hit a brick wall.

K.I.S.S. it – I’m never going to add something new and wonderous to the jiu-jitsu world so I’m not going to write like I’m God’s intellectual gift to BJJ blogging. My posts will be far more simple from here on out. Stuff I did. An observation or two. A jiu-jitsu tip here and there. Maybe a jokey now and then. Links to more qualified and interesting people than me.

UPDATE: Changed the title and layout to fit in with the K.I.S.S it goal.

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