Turn Toward Trouble (A Jiu-Jitsu Lesson)

Our only hope for overcoming our troubles is to turn toward them.

One of the most valuable lessons we learn, as we practice jiu-jitsu, is that our troubles do not go away when we turn our backs on them.

In fact, the more we train, the more we discover that, by turning away from our problems, they actually tend to get much, much worse.

By turning our backs on our troubles, we forfeit nearly all ability to defend ourselves against them, to overcome them, and to be triumphant against them.

At first, it may feel like the only way out, it may feel safer and more comfortable than what is in front of us, but, as time goes on, we learn that turning away actually makes us more vulnerable, more susceptible to danger, and leaves us with little to no recourse.

Turning away in an effort to escape our problems, we come to find, is tantamount to giving up.

No matter how much pressure we are under, no matter how aggressive and persistent the attack, and regardless of how unprepared, outsized, and outmatched we may be, our only hope for overcoming the difficulties we face is to actually face them.

To be sure, this is no easy task, but with enough courage, enough persistence, and enough practice, we eventually learn how to not only survive, but how to thrive in unfavorable, uncomfortable, and even painful situations, and, over time, we even come to embrace them and use them to our advantage.


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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