There are a lot of vague ideas and concepts floating around in the jiu jitsu community. One such idea is that your experiences on the mat can be a microcosm for who you are as a person and that Jiu Jitsu can serve as a vessel toward personal growth. But what exactly does that mean?
Unlike some martial arts in which you never train live, against a resisting opponent, jiu jitsu provides constant feedback to the efficacy of our practice. It is what makes each rank a great achievement: In jiu jitsu, if you aren’t at the level of the belt around your waist it will quickly be revealed on the mat.
The beauty of Jiu Jitsu is in its ability to give you an honest reflection of who you are as a person. If you give up easily it will show on the mat; if you are dedicated it will show on the mat; if you are an anxious person, you will be confronted with that anxiety on the mat; and if you are a **** it will show on the mat. I could go on and on about how jiu jitsu can reveal your nature.
Jiu Jitsu provides us with a mirror reflection of who we are, but what we do with it is up to us. It essentially comes down to two choices: We overcome our weaknesses or we protect our ego.
People who protect their egos are afraid of knowing who they are. It’s not easy for many people to make an honest assessment of who they are, analyze it, and figure out how they can improve upon it without judgement. Some people go their entire lives without scratching the surface of introspection.
People that protect their egos roll against their opponent rather than themselves. They are looking to win, not roll as well as they possibly can. They make excuses: “The person had 50 lbs on me, I would have won IF; I’m tired,” etc. etc. There’s a theme here: rather than looking inward they look outward for excuses.
People that overcome their weaknesses take an honest look at themselves. They are able to remove the “I” from the equation and look objectively deep within. This, of course, is not easily done. People go their whole lives without committing themselves to introspection and self-awareness out of fear of what they might find. Why is it such a scary thing for some? Because we are our harshest critics. Before we can begin to work on ourselves, we need to be more accepting of ourselves without judgement and with forgiveness.
So can jiu jitsu make you a better person? Yes, if you are open to it.
When we commit ourselves to this introspection we are able to grow: we can overcome our anxiety, we can be tougher, we can become kinder to others, we can loosen the hold our egos have over us, and we can be more at peace with ourselves!
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