Reality Acceptance in BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners are constantly forced to deal with reality.  This is what gives the martial art its power and beauty.  Fakery can’t exist in BJJ.  The truth always comes out on the mats.  It is one of the main reasons that I love this art more than any other martial art that I have trained in.  No fluff, just facts.  Reality.

At first this can be a bitter pill to swallow for most people.  The “ego check.”  It is one of reasons that a majority of the people who step onto the mats quit.  Their pride can’t take it.  So they deny reality and continue to live in fantasy.

I came into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with a great deal of previous martial arts experience.  My first day on the BJJ mats was eye opening.  I was completely humbled.  I was tossed around, choked and arm-barred with relative ease.  At that moment I had two obvious choices: 1) Quit and make an excuse as to why the art was not for me, make a statement such as “I’d never let anybody take me to the ground,”  or 2) Accept the fact that I was almost useless on the ground despite my size, strength or previous experience.  I chose to accept reality and stayed.  Moreover, I embraced my ignorance of the art and looked forward to the challenge of learning it.

But continuing in the art did not mean I was totally “open.”  On the mats I denied reality all of the time.  There were many times I forced a technique without the proper cue or refused to tap when I was clearly caught.  With constant training this eventually improved, but it wasn’t easy.  Growing pains…4 years as a blue belt. Ever  so gradually I began to accept reality more and more. I accepted when I was bested, when a technique failed, or when my guard was passed.  When I did this “acceptance” I felt myself improve dramatically!

During this time I began to adhere to my teacher’s philosophy on Jiu Jitsu.  To open up and take risks.  To flow, not force. Not to care if I was submitted.  My excitement for the art increased tremendously.  I got a glimpse at how deep this rabbit hole of BJJ goes.  I was hooked more than ever.  Not on victory or medals or being a “badass.”  But hooked on evolution!  Growth, both technically and personally.  Jiu Jitsu became a vehicle for personal development.  REAL development.  Because BJJ is a reality based martial art.  The feedback for errors is immediate.  No fluff, no bullshit.  If your opponent is better than you than he’s better than you. Period.

Accepting the harsh lessons of reality is oddly comforting even if it stings at first.  Now, I continue my journey knowing that I hardly know anything.  With this mindset I will step on the mats with openness and acceptance of what “is” and do my best to surf this wave. There will be wipeouts no doubt.  But that’s where the big gems of learning come from.

Recommendation:  While training, be in the moment as much as possible. Observe and accept each slice of time as it “is” and not what you think it “should be.”   Strive to be open and see the paths that are in front of you, not the paths you want to be in front of you.  Example:  The sooner you accept the fact that your guard is passed the sooner you can build up your defense and escapes. If you remain stubborn and deny the pass is happening the more you’ll be behind and the more your opponent will control you.  To concede may be in your best interest so you can be ahead at the next phase of the positioning. Don’t go down with a sinking ship! Best to cut your losses and carry on. Even more, when you “accept” defeat rather than “deny” defeat you have the opportunity to take something away from it…a lesson.