If you want to know more about yourself, your fears, and your ego, grapple.
Grappling is a form of self-expression, under pressure and against resistance. As a person’s skills develop in any grappling art, his or her personality begins to come through in the way that he or she trains. This is especially true in sparring or rolling (Brazilian jiu-jitsu sparring) when pressure, resistance, and some level of competition are added to the equation. The way that you behave while rolling, the attitude you bring to each round, the things you are willing or unwilling to try, and the way you win or lose are like a mirror into your soul.
When things get difficult, do you turn into adversity or away from it? Do you open up, take risks, and try new things or do stay closed and tight, waiting for a sure thing, relying on what you know already know works? Do you rely too heavily on your strengths and never work on your weaknesses? How do you deal with pressure, both when applying it or when on the receiving end of it? What about fast moving, rapidly changing challenges? Do you face problems head on or do you try to find an advantageous angle of attack? When you are beat up, exhausted, and overwhelmed, do you jump in for another round or do you sit out until you feel fresh again? Is it more important for you to win or to learn?
All of these are personal questions and there are really no right or wrong answers. We are each on our own personal journey and, if we continue to show up, the answers to these questions will change and so will we. The important thing is to acknowledge who we are right now, who we want to be in the future, and to choose the path, the teacher(s), and the training partners that best aid us along the way to becoming that person, and the grappler, we want to be.
“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