Does life imitate jiu-jitsu or does jiu-jitsu imitate life? That is the question. To answer it I suppose it all depends on where you’re at in life and your overall viewpoint on the matter.
Here’s my take:
Some may view life as the same thing every day. It’s really not. Despite what some may believe, your life and the world we live in is actually not as balanced and predictable as we sometimes think it is.
Sounds a little bit like every roll on the mat doesn’t it?
Sure, you’re generally ready to know what to expect with a familiar player. But occasionally, instead of getting caught in the same submission, you (somehow) catch your opponent in a triangle or arm bar that was completely unintentional. Then you quickly say to yourself, “Holy crap!” From here, you have seconds to adapt mentally, physically, and even spiritually. If you can do this, you just might pull off the impossible. Such is the magic of jiu-jitsu.
Now, getting back to life in general, I also view it as a fight. I think most people do, too. Sometimes you’re on the bottom getting smothered for what seems like an eternity; other times, you’re on top and it’s almost too easy.
This brings me to jiu-jitsu: if you’re on the bottom, you’ve got to stay cool and tough it out. If you’re on top (mount, for instance) you’ve still got to stay cool because it’s so easy to lose that dominant position.
Unfortunately, you have to fight to stay in control. Not to sound too patriotic (especially after the election) but you really do have to fight to keep your freedom and control over things. Where do you learn all this? I suppose it can be found anywhere. But in terms of martial arts, it seems like you learn it far more quickly and realistically on the jiu-jitsu mat.
To paraphrase the famous samurai Musashi from his The Book of Five Rings, “The way of the warrior is the way of life itself.” It’s tough stuff, but it’s true. At least that’s what I believe at this point in my life.
Also, on a side note, even if you are stuck on the bottom, if you can defend yourself and not tap (especially to a tougher, bigger, or higher ranking opponent) that’s still a win to a certain degree. You have to decide for yourself.
With all this being said, never stop training and never stop finding ways to improve your overall outlook on life in a positive manner through jiu-jitsu. BJJ is something new and it’s still evolving, but let’s learn from it and maybe strive to improve our lives and, perhaps, even liberate it in some kind of existential way.
Chris6583 (Chris Campion) is the author of the novel The Jiu-Jitsu Bum published by Northampton House Press. He has a blue belt from Gracie NEPA.