I began Jiu Jitsu because I needed something real. My martial arts practice prior to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu had been disappointing.
In my formative years of Jiu Jitsu training, I wanted medals. I wanted the rush of standing on the podium above all others.
When I returned to Ohio, all I wanted was a Jiu Jitsu academy. I wanted to share what I knew, grow a team from scratch and develop the toughest training room around.
All these things are done. Now, I will search for the perfect roll. I will flow without interruption, without time, without purpose. I will discover the unexpected. I will feel what has never been felt before. I will discard outcomes. I will move without effort, without concern, without value.
I will return to Jiu Jitsu.
Growth can only come from discomfort.
My instructor, Jorge Popovitch, eluded to this 11 years ago while we were training privately. Jorge often implored the use of metaphors to explain Jiu Jitsu. They were often grandiose and exaggerated largely because of his limited english. But they were deceptively effective for getting his point across.
One day, he and I were training privately. We were training only one move, over and over. The move was not easy and it was taking its toll. He saw how the session was affecting me, paused for a moment and said “for Jiu Jitsu, you have to learn to play in the fire.”
He was telling me that, regardless of the success or failure of the move we were training (or any move for that matter), I had to be tolerant of the chaos of the move itself. In order to grow, beyond the move, I had to relish the discomfort of the move.
Jiu Jitsu is chaos. It is uncomfortable. It is painful. But Jiu Jitsu is exhilaration. It is aliveness. To cross from the one to the other, to evolve, you must build your comfort with the uncomfortable.
To grow, you must always play in the fire.