On Non-Resistance (A Jiu-Jitsu Lesson)

Long-lasting solutions begin with empathy, not animosity.

If we want to make a change in our lives, we will inevitably come up against resistance. Instead of perceiving this resistance as a negative thing, we should embrace it for the lessons it offers. Resistance forces us to know ourselves, our desires, our capabilities, and to adjust our posture, firm up our stance, and focus our attention and intention so that we are not overcome by the forces working against us and also so that we can find an intelligent and efficient way through or around them.

In jiu-jitsu, if we stick around long enough, we begin to learn that fighting force against force is not only exhausting, but also gives the advantage to whoever is bigger, stronger, and more persistent. Over time, through many mistakes and many losses, we come to accept the fact that the only way for a smaller, weaker practitioner to defeat a larger, stronger one, is with integrity, angles, and timing. The longer that we practice in this way, the more sensitive we become to the defensive and offensive motives, desires, and strategies of our opponents, giving us the ability to think and move ahead of them instead of in response to them.

This type of physical intelligence is not available to us if our minds are clouded by frustration, anger, or egoism, however. If we want to intuitively know how to effectively deal with resistance, how to neutralize it, and how to use it to our advantage, we must practice empathy. Empathy allows us to be sensitive to the needs and wants of others so that, instead of fighting against them, we can work with them, allowing them to be who they want to be, but to do so in a way that is advantageous to us, binging us closer to our goals.

Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

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

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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