Common Ground

With the 2016 presidential election out of the way. I think now more than ever the Jiu Jitsu community needs to come together.

This past year I’ve witnessed friends and training partners bickering, fighting, and name calling.

I’m sure that a lot of friendships were damaged on and off the mats.

In Jiu Jitsu we aren’t strangers to dealing with politics. It’s everywhere around us.

There’s politics in belt graduations. Who gets promoted versus those that are held back longer.

Politics in which academies that you can visit. Being allowed to only train at affiliated academies while being deterred from training at non-affiliated academies.

Politics in tournaments between different teams, tournament rule sets, and referees.

There is no shortage of examples on how politics affect each and everyone of us.

But I believe that it’s important not to let our differences separate us.

Diversity

The Jiu Jitsu community is a really diverse environment. It brings so many unique individuals together in a positive environment that you don’t see in many places.

Recently, I went out to lunch with a group of my training partners after a Saturday session. And when we all got up to leave, a woman approached our group asking how we all knew each other and what brought such a diverse group of people together.

This seemed so out of the ordinary to this lady. But to us it was just a normal day.

What other place can you have executives, doctors, and lawyers training with small business owners, college students, and blue collar workers.

A place where there is no social class, division by wealth, politics or whatever else that separates so many of us in our daily lives.

A place where people from all over the world gather on a daily basis to sweat together and to learn together.

While there is a hierarchy. The upper ranks are equally accessible to all members considering they put in the time and effort.

That’s as fair as life gets!

Politics

While there will always be politics inside and outside of your academy. Every academy has politics. It’s just to what degree those politics affect you.

Academies with more politics do tend to have more drama. If possible try to avoid them. But you never really know until you actually spend some time in that academy.

But again all academies will have some degree of politics. Whether or not it is a deal breaker will be up to you to decide.

Bond created and shared through Jiu Jitsu
Bond created and shared through Jiu Jitsu

Special breed

It takes a special breed of person to endure the grind that is martial arts. Especially the grappling arts such as Wrestling, Judo, Sambo, and of course Jiu Jitsu.

It’s such a physical and mental martial art that you have to develop a deep trust and respect for your fellow training partners and instructors.

For example consider the action of doing a hip throw (O Goshi). While it is a simple technique, there is a lot behind it that makes it work. For one, the thrower must have the proper technique to perform the throw and the receiver (uke) must trust that the thrower will put him/her down safely. The thrower must also trust the receiver to not get injured on the way down by properly doing a break fall.

When you’re dealing with potentially dangerous techniques that can injure, choke, break, twist, tear or whatever combination that you can think of. There has to be this deep level of trust to insure that everyone stays safe.

Support

From day one in Jiu Jitsu you are confronted with your limitations in conditioning, strength, technique, and experience.

And yet people continue training. Until, slowly but surely their conditioning gets a little bit better. They can make it through the warm up and a few rolls. As they continue their training they gain the strength necessary to play in those intricate guard positions and passing positions. Now they can develop good technique and not have to rely on their strength as much. Until they’ve gained the experience to utilize everything that they’ve learned throughout their journey.

While Jiu Jitsu is a seriously introspective art form (in a way all martial arts are). The only way to make it is through the support of your training partner’s and instructors.

You might not consider it but even those people that you compete against in tournaments make you better.

Conclusion

We need to stick together now more than ever.

In a society that is ready to separate us based on social status, gender, race, etc. We have to stand together.

From my experience, training Jiu Jitsu (in the right environment) makes one

  • More respectful of other cultures and religions
  • More open to different and opposing ideals
  • Less judgmental

These are all qualities that we should hope to embody and to impart on those that we interact with on a daily basis. Be it friends outside of our Jiu Jitsu circle, coworkers, family members, etc.

Just by doing Jiu Jitsu we have this incredible thing that connects us all together. It doesn’t matter if you do gi or nogi, if you’re male or female, white belt or black belt. Jiu Jitsu is for everyone. It’s our common bond.

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