Truth in Art and Grappling

“It is only brave before you do it.”

—Debbie Millman

Robert Van Valkenburgh being caught in an armbar by Ike Haertel while attempting to pass Ike’s guard. Photo by Mike Oswald Photogrpahy

Art, creative work shared with others, is a lot like grappling in that it takes risk to attain any kind of reward. In order to be successful, you must put yourself on the line. You must invest in losing, a lot. You must invest in being wrong, a lot. You must test your best ideas against others, just to find out that they need more work, that you need more work.

In both art and grappling, there is no separation between you and the part of yourself that you put into the world. There is no hiding. There is not holding back. You either open up or you don’t and, if you don’t open up, if you don’t take risks, you may be showing up, but you aren’t really showing up and it isn’t enough.

There is no lying in art or grappling. Your truth will be exposed. You will be exposed. If you do not like what you find when your truth is in the open, you can deny it. You can withdraw. You can quit. If you do, you will never know what is on the other side of that which scares you. You will never know who you could have been if you were willing to truly face yourself, your weakness, your fragility, and worse, your strength.

Your fear is only an excuse to hide from your power.

“As in life, so too it is in budo. As in budo, so too it is in life.”

-Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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