Far too often I see people talking about how much they want to achieve certain goals, rather than taking steps to achieve those goals. Personally I have not achieved even a small fraction of my goals for BJJ, and very few people will ever hear about those goals… I will say this: it’s not about the end product, but rather the grind.
Anyone who trains with the focus of winning a specific tournament, medal or accomplishment but neglects to embrace and truly internalize the process has missed out on a major aspect of what makes it all worth it. I’ve been told so very often that in jiu jitsu, it’s not about any single destination, but rather the journey itself as a whole.
That journey isn’t tangible, it’s not something you can hold in your hand or see. Every drop of sweat and blood that we shed while on the mat, every moment we push through the discomfort of a bad position or situation and order to find a way out is in and of itself more valuable than any stripe or belt that another human being can give us.
Why am I saying all of this?
I see a lot of people speak/Facebook post “motivationally,” but often don’t see them really pushing their own pace. Very often those who truly push the pace are those who don’t talk about it at all. More often than not the toughest grapplers I’ve encountered are those who, unless they grapple for a living, are quite reticent when it comes to their grappling.
The grind isn’t for everyone.
In fact, I’d venture to say that it’s for a very small percent of everyone who does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, even if the grind isn’t for you, you should still try to experience it as often as possible. Don’t avoid rolling with people who can manhandle you, tap early and often, and understand that every moment you’re getting beaten up is one moment less that you’ll be beaten up in competition or elsewhere in life.
There’s an old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This isn’t always true, but in BJJ I’d rephrase that to “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.” Push yourself to your own breaking point, then take a short breather. Assess what you need to do to be better. Then repeat.
I see mentally weak people EVERYWHERE. Stepping on the mat is one potential first step to becoming strong. What does embracing the grind mean? To me, it means being completely present and persevering through whatever pressure I am put under. And then coming back the next class to do it all over again. Rinse, Rest, Repeat.