Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fear, Sense of Self, and Jiu-Jitsu

A lot of us had doubts before we ever walked into a gym.

Not everyone is tough when they start. Universally, we learn we're not as ________ as we thought we were.
Ultimately, and we've all seen it: that first time someone gets mounted or dominated, or they get tapped out, or they get put to sleep, or especially I saw it in MMA style sparring, you saw who came back the next day, the next week, the next month, and who fought again after they lost a fight.
I've heard a lot of people say they respect anyone who gets in there and fight.
I disagree. Anyone can fight. They lock that cage door, and you will fight. There is nowhere to run.
What is hard is training and preparing like a professional. Training twice a day or more, doing your strength and conditioning, full out sparring, going to Thai class, and making time for wrestling or whichever area in which you're deficient. Having self-control and watching your diet.
I don't respect anyone who fights and is unprofessional. It is inexcusable in my mind.

The toughest thing I've seen many people do is just show up day after day.

The new guys who kill themselves trying to win from day one, that pride, that ego....when it is finally smashed, and it will be, it shatters their sense of self.
You can see how fragile their sense of self is based on how much they NEED to win. They fight every armbar and choke and position like the world depends on it...because it feels like it does in their mind. Their world, their sense of who they are as a man or whatever, is on the line.

Losing feels like death to them, because all of us grapple with a perhaps false sense of self or a fragile sense of self we have constructed throughout our lives. If they lose, the way they wish to see themselves dies/comes into conflict with reality. That cognitive dissonance is highly uncomfortable and distressing.

For others, many who came in accepting there would be humility at the outset and that this would take time, the biggest hurdle is realizing  that size and strength do matter as people get better. We've told ourselves the mantra that technique will always prevail, and yes, perfect technique will prevail. But it is a sport and physics does not fluctuate. When you're tired, hungover, preoccupied with work, or simply your diet was off the preceding day, you should get smashed by a training partner.
Then you get that very first actual realization as to just how long a road this may be. We get frustrated, make excuses, avoid rolling with someone, or avoid rolling when tired or the gym entirely to avoid getting caught.

Realistically, many of us will never be world champions. In fact, the vast majority will not be.
Does that mean that we should let negativity and fear infest our belief and limit our ability to succeed (because that is what it will do).

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