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A Game Worthy of Playing

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why can bear almost any how,” meaning that a clear recognition of one’s purpose is the most important factor in navigating the challenges of life. I believe the same can be said for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 


It is a game more challenging than almost any other – one that has the ability to uncover previously hidden fears and anxieties. It’s a game that will present unexpected obstacles, often in the form of opponents who are younger, stronger, faster, more athletic and more skilled. Give it time and personal insecurities, fears, phobias, and even character flaws will surface – and those too will need to be faced head on. And this, not to mention the regularity of having to deal with injuries.


So I think it’s important to ask the question, “Why you are committing to learn Jiu-Jitsu?” Or even more simply, as Nietzsche would likely ask, “What is your why?”


It is incredibly important that you take a serious moment to consider what the end goal is in this process is for you, otherwise the coming challenges mentioned will certainly fold you in two (at least figuratively if not literally).


Having said that, Jiu-Jitsu is a game worthy of playing precisely because of those challenges, not in spite of them. The growth that comes from overcoming obstacles forces a mental shift in the way we approach roadblocks in many other facets of life. It doesn’t matter where you start, what physical condition you’re in or how quickly you pick up technique. At the end of the day, this game is you vs. you. What ultimately matters is that through the lens of your “why,” you continue to personally grow, as reaching the goal is not nearly as valuable as developing the skill to overcome any obstacle put in your path.


So when it comes to training in class, our purpose is to grow stronger together as we each play a role in the development of those whom we train with. It is for this reason that your training partner’s duty each day is to work to expose weaknesses in your game, while you do the same for them. Anything less than this only hinders the real progress that each of us is ultimately working toward, as we need to have our weaknesses revealed in order to have an opportunity to fix them and become better.


As for me, my “why” is based on a personal goal to improve myself daily and actively seek out challenges to overcome. I do Jiu-Jitsu as a practice to focus my mind. It helps me stay in the present and solve intense problems using relaxed concentration. It keeps me in the moment and helps me to let go of daily stress. It gives me the opportunity to push others to new heights and overcome their own physical and mental limitations as well. And I love that because of the challenge that this game provides, at the end of the day, I sleep better, my food tastes better, my mind is quiet, my body weary, and I know I get to start the challenge all over again the next day. 


Jiu-Jitsu has prepared me for the challenges of my own life, which, as many of you know from experience, will come out of nowhere like a well set-up triangle choke. So when life tosses you into a Twister Spine Lock, how are you going to react? Will you panic, have an anxiety attack, crumble and quit, or calmly solve the problem and maintain your head because you know your “why?” 


Jiu-Jitsu is a game worthy of playing.