Kesting has a post over at GrappleArts that reminded me of the (Thank you late night Netflix) documentary, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi".
- For more about Kesting, himself, click HERE.
Kesting points out several salient themes and motifs from the documentary, namely: "The thing that struck me most is that [Jiro is] still learning, still trying to get better, still searching for that perfect expression of sushi."
And "...to do simple things at a world class level takes an insane amount of work, training and practice behind the scenes to get that one thing just right....Jiu-jitsu is the same way. An outsider would probably think that rolling around on the ground with someone is pretty simple – just ask one of those out-of-shape UFC armchair-quarterback guys who’ve never trained but always have an opinion about what Georges St Pierre should do next."
The example is prescient in that we've all had friends watch a Jiu-Jitsu match or see an MMA fight and say "why doesn't he just stand up?"
Kesting goes on to elucidate and reiterate the old addages that you likely had screamed at you by an overweight wrestling coach, or a hoarse-voiced Judo coach (or any other sport for that matter):
"The difference is practice and repetition!"
"Getting better at this art is a marathon, not a sprint. "
At the highest levels of sport, I have no doubt genetic advantages and natural athleticism or whatever that means can be the deciding factor. That being said, 97% of us will never compete at that level by choice and that means that at the local whatever tournament, all those things you rely to rationalize your losing and why you didn't sleep enough or drill enough or do sprints or show up early to drill before class or why you chose to take 4 days off to do whatever.....they are all just that: excuses.
There is no substitute for hard work. I'm taken back to The Art of Learning (and to a lesser extent The Fighter's Mind) and the difference between incremental learning and so called naturals.
Incremental learning is what you call those of us un-gifted folks that have to grind and slog through failing and doing it the 42 wrong ways until we have eliminated all the ways to do it but the right way.
Naturals rarely stick with many pursuits if any b/c once they face hardship they quit as it questions their "natural ability" and their notion of self is likely and often tied to that notion that they're "naturally" good at everything they try. And yes, at the outset they are better, even better than those with some investment/time spent in that particular skill, whatever it may be: panting, ice skating, cooking, public speaking.
In the long run, however, they are also more likely to quit as the sprint is understandable and passable...but the reality that it will be years until they are truly good at this thing.....it breaks them mentally and they lack the dedication and resolve to persist day after day, grind through the plateaus, setbacks, and the frustration that for a long time...and perhaps forever, many of your training partners who started before you will always be better.
I am personally the most impressed by the guys with families and kids and full careers that manage to find time and stick with it and train.
I find it maddening the rate of progress for myself and I typically train anywhere from 6-8 times in a 7 day span, and more than that in the summers and when I'm off in December. I can't imagine how difficult it is to show up and train 2x a week and be on that learning curve.
I remember Jiro and one of his assistants...spending years learning just how to knead the rice.
The lowliest function there is for the sushi restaurant.....not even handling fish or a knife....or the assistant who kneads the octopus meat for something like 45 minutes to make it soft.
They talk about how many assistants in the kitchen quit and how few stick with it....and you see why Jiro is the only 3 star Michelin rated Sushi restaurant in the world. He is the 3%.
More like the .01%, but whatever.
Train or don't.
The choice is yours.