Determination and Enthusiasm

Posted: August 20, 2009 in All Eli's BJJ Posts, Most Recent Posts
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“Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit softly.” – Theodore Roosevelt

My instructor once gave me a necklace with a coin on it. The coin was a Chinese coin with markings from the i-Ching on it. Accompanying it was a small sliver of explanatory paper saying “Enthusiam.” Now, since I am maybe the least ostensibly enthusiastic person you may ever meet, you can understand my initial confusion. However, beyond that first word, it also said, “certainty that the present action is the correct one.”

My teacher (one more reason he is the greatest teacher and still my teacher to this day) had recognized something in me. He had recognized perhaps years before I had, that training had done for me what nothing else ever had, and what I had been lacking all my life to that point. Determination. Beyond that, though, the training I was receiving was instilling in me confidence and convictions in my actions. Which brings me to the first quote I put at the beginning by Roosevelt. I love that quote because it represents so much of what I feel martial arts has done for me. I have especially found my niche in BJJ because it allows me to live out my pacifistic principles while simultaneously dealing with the thousand natural conflicts that arise in life in a forthright manner.

Couple it with this quote: “There is almost no reason in the world to fight, but every reason in the world to know how to fight.” My instructor read this one at my black belt ceremony years ago and it resonates to this day. The idea to me is, among other implications, if you are going to do something then do it.

Others have said everything already, and much better than I ever could, so I submit to you a final quote, which when combined with those previously mentioned complete the circle in many ways: “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Again by Theodore Roosevelt

That’s the thing with BJJ for me. It has taught me that you cannot have teeter between two actions in an exigency. In Jiu Jitsu, if you pause too long deciding if you want to move a certain limb in a certain way, your opponent has more time to complete his action, which in turn makes your situation worse. In training, it is a great thing to make mistakes; it is the ultimate learning device you have at your disposal. You get choked, you learn; you get caught in an armlock or footlock, you learn. What do you really learn from flawless execution of your plans beyond the first time it happens? Something, but not nearly as much, and not in such an urgent way as getting caught will set you on a path to discover how to avoid that situation in the future.

Be bold. Take baby steps when you are in the infancy of your training. But, just as children eliminate unnecessary, onerous steps, do this in training as well. The technique that took you 10 steps and lots of minor adjustments a year ago should only take about 5-6 now. And those stuttering little adjustments you had to make should deliquesce into smoothness. If only we reach the level that we can apply this to life! How much more enjoyable a life would be that, as it progresses, becomes more effortless and difficulties fade rather than accumulate.

All right, last quotation, I promise: “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali

And because I think most blog posts look boring, here are some techniques I have uploaded on YouTube over time:


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