Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle”. What is Yours?
Any time a new student comes through the doors at Gracie Barra I always take a moment to introduce myself, find out their name and ask a few questions about their background, how they found out about the academy. To me, the most interesting question however is always “What made you decide to take up Brazilian jiu-jitsu?”
We live in a period unprecedented in human history where we are exposed to limitless amounts of entertainment media and demands for our attention and that is in addition to the demands of making a living, family and life in general. The question becomes a compelling one: Why would someone tie on a white belt and step on the mat ,overcoming their apprehension of the unknown and the daunting task of learning the most complex martial art in existence?
Having taught classes for many years and met thousands of new faces, I continue to be amazed at the new and different responses that I receive.
Firstly, allow me to point out that it is the minority of the students in any academy who consider BJJ competition as their primary reason for training in jiu-jitsu.
I recall seeing a figure that 15-20% in most bjj academies will be interested in the sport competition aspect.
The top competitors receive a disproportionate amount of the attention in bjj publications. And perhaps deservedly so!
We are all inspired by the almost superhuman physical conditioning that they achieve. We all learn from their innovations in techniques which they test under the harsh lights of the competitive stage. The constant push for newer strategies continues to push the evolution of the art. The drama of a championship bout and the electricity of witnessing a competitor overcome great odds to be crowned a Worlds Champion can stay in our collective minds for years and become the stuff of BJJ legend.
But, in your own academy are stories nearly as inspiring by the people rolling and sweating beside you on the mat everyday.
BJJ legend Renzo Gracie Tweeted a quote that I found originated by J.M. Barrie.
“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle”.
This is a perspective reflected in the Gracie Barra philosophy of “Jiu-jitsu for everyone.”
I have encountered people on the mat who:
– revealed that they were struggling with the breakup of a marriage and needed a place to clear their minds in the midst of turmoil
– were recovering from a serious accident and looking for a means of physical therapy to rebuild their fitness and strength for life
– someone whose family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer and finding that jiu-jitsu helped them clear their mind and cope with their emotional pain and sense of helplessness
– painfully shy young people looking for a way to build confidence and be able to face the world with their heads held high
– were recovering from a battle with substance abuse, looking for a way to add stability to their lives and replace a self destructive habit with a healthy one
– overcoming a battle with obesity and using the jiu-jitsu lifestyle to create a new way for them to get healthy and enjoy life
– women seeking a way to regain confidence and a feeling of personal safety after being involved in an abusive relationship or experiencing a scary brush with street violence
For that hour period on the mat you can put aside your worldly problems, free your mind and find some relief from heavy thoughts while working on making your body and mind strong to withstand the stresses of life.
One can only wonder at the personal stories of that quiet person beside you on the mat at your academy.
What is your story?
Credits: Mark Mullen
GB Black belt from GB Calgary, Canada