It's my night off of training, and instead of researching an abstract and somewhat confusing area of international law, I thought I would sit and type a bit about jiu jitsu. Because that sounds like much more fun.
I got to work with John last night for the first time in what must have been months. He took off to backpack in southeast Asia last fall and vanished for something like 10 weeks. When he came back, he injured some cartilage in his ribs, so he was hitting maybe one training session a week for a while. He's back, and for once we both had time to train after class. And I now completely buy into the idea that so long as you keep showing up, you will improve. Danaher said it, Forrest Griffin said it, Klint said it, and I for once have had an experience that told me the same thing. When he left, John and I were pretty comparably skilled. He's just a bit larger than I am, and he can grow a much better beard, but last night I was able to work open guard comfortably. I hit a few sweeps, took away his base--did all those things that you're supposed to do. It was strange.
So how does this relate to everything else? Or anything else, for that matter? A friend of mine gets on my case for writing about nothing but jiu jitsu in this space. Part of me---and by part, I mean the part that could throttle him into unconsciousness---thinks that everyone should be as enamored with the gentle art as I am. But in reality, such is not the case. So this little parable of getting better while my opponent got cultured is the same thing that everyone's parents told him while he was growing up; if you keep working at something, you're going to get better at it. Think you're a bad writer? Write 5,000 words a day and take the time to critique them with an objective eye. And keep your attention while you write the next day so you don't make the same mistakes. Think you can't legally analyze something? Spend four hours on one case, go to class where you (in theory) figure out what it means, and look at your notes afterwards to see where you went wrong. Want to play the piano? Do you think those professionals were able to play for hours on end when they started? Think Michael Jordan was able to hit a free throw with his eyes closed when he was in high school?
No. Blood, sweat, time, and exhaustion.
Back to jiu jitsu, though. After class on Monday, Brady and I talked for a while about training and jiu jitsu in general. Then after class Tuesday, Gina and I did the same. Before John and I rolled. It seems that they are taking me under their wings as higher belts. Our academy in Woodbury is very new, and as such we don't have many students. Most of our team trains out of Edina. But here are a purple and brown belt, students of my instructor, taking time to check on my progress. It made me feel pretty good. And I've worked with Brady pretty extensively since I began training. He would be the only person willing to train afterwards when I started. It was great for him--he had a large white belt to try new things on, and I had someone to throttle me and show me how little I knew, and how much I was unaware even existed. It's nice to have those higher belts guiding me, for lack of a better term. Especially while my instructor is gone. Keeps the motivation high.