Showing Up

I was driving into my internship when I started thinking about Jiu Jitsu. Specifically I was thinking about the belt system and the way that my school awards them.

Typically you will see five colors awarded: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Each of these belts receive stripes as the student progresses. In my school they add three belts between white and blue so that the progression is white, yellow, orange, green, and then blue. Stripes on the white belt are each awarded after 10 reasonably consistent days of attendance. Yellow and orange are also awarded based on attendance. It is not until awarding the green belt (the equivalent of a four stripe white belt in many other schools) that my school promotes on skill/understanding.

This is controversial. Some folks would say that promotion based on anything but Jiu Jitsu skill is not legitimate, that this practice is just trying to egg people along and make them feel good. Frankly, I had some misgivings about it as well. I have no misgivings now.

The reason I do not have any misgivings now is I see how much more there is to Jiu Jitsu than Jiu Jitsu. To be successful in this art, one must have personal resources e.g. diligence, humility, and resilience. If a player must possess the skill to execute a technique (e.g. an arm bar) to practice the art, and possessing diligence or humility is also necessary, then why would diligence not be specifically encouraged? If you don’t show up, you can’t learn. Rewarding the new student with promotion based on executing the most important skill, i.e. showing up, is absolutely logical. Once that skill has been largely acquired and demonstrated then the next thing to test is the student’s proficiency in the gentle art.

This is what I was thinking about on my drive in.

One cannot be successful in life if one does not show up. I know for me, I often see only the failed attempt rather than also seeing the fact I was there attempting. No, just trying is not enough but trying is ESSENTIAL. I have found significant objective achievement in the areas where I measure success by how much and how consistently I have engaged the process.

If you are kicking ass focusing on nothing but the goal then keep kicking ass! If that’s not working for you you might want to try committing to diligently showing up and engaging the process. It has done wonders for me.

UPDATE:

The next day one of the black belts earned his first stripe. Three years of Jiu Jitsu since his belt. My professor spoke at length about how the black belt had earned this stripe. The way we start is the way we end, showing up.

Kimura

kimura

Masahiko Kimura is one of the greatest judoka of all time. The Kimura armbar is named for him after Kimura used it to defeat Helio Gracie in 1951.

Below is a very short (3 minute) documentary on Kimura. It is narrated by Doug Rogers who was Kimura’s first, and perhaps only, western student.

I liked his simple and straight forward discussion of the process.

From the film:

“This is unreasonable, we know that, but it pushes us beyond a physical limit, to another place, way outside or way inside. I don’t know where exactly, but I’ve been there.”

As near as I can tell there are three types of people. Those who have never gone there, those who have, and those who go there repeatedly.

“I was mystic in the beginning, I suppose. Maybe I expected some secret weapon from the East. But there is no mystery about it, as many believe or would like to believe. Good Judo is a matter of hard work and concentration. The best Judo? Well maybe I don’t know yet.”

Thanks to Ross Training for his article about this. He makes some good observations. Be sure to check them out.