I recently read a facebook post by Henry Akins that really made me think and focus. The conclusion of the post was basically “not to worry about what colour your belt is, but focus on improving as a person and becoming efficient with the techniques of Jiu Jitsu”. ( I have butchered this a little to summarise it, please forgive me). But it is this philosophy that really focuses me.
But it is this philosophy that now inspires me as part of Jiu Jitsu. When I was younger I did Taekwondo and the obsession was always to pass your gradings and reach a higher rank with black belt being the goal. This was good it gave me an external sense of achievement, oh and I got to move further up to the front of the class, but it certainly did not make me a better person. So personally I think the patience, perseverance and the often quoted “journey” aspects of jiu jitsu are what attracts me to it and has kept me wanting to get back.
This wasn’t always the case though. When I first started I had the same attitude I had with my previous martial arts and I had a big shock. This was not the frame of mind to approach jiu jitsu with. This did change after a year or so of training, but I think the long break I have had has been even more beneficial for this. (Although it didn’t feel like it at the time….ask Mrs Munki how grumpy I was). It has helped me break old habits/mind sets and start creating more positive new ones. Like open mindedness, learning styles mainly the stuff I have written about before. I think everyone acknowledges it is not an easy process, even for those who are young and in good physical shape to take up jiu jitsu. It does create heart and exercises your will power muscles heading back to the mats, session after session coping with the good and the bad. Until that day when it starts to click and to techniques you are aiming to use you can actually carrying out. I think acknowledging this as a personal success and getting in the habit of finding the personal positives in every session makes be a better person and enjoy my jits more. If all I am bothered about is the next stripe or belt then I am always looking ahead and not enjoying or valuing the now. As an old munki I really value the now, as I don’t want to wish the remainder of my life away.
Even looking at it realistically I have no control over when I get my next promotion that is up to my instructor. What is in my control is my Motivation, Understanding, N…effort, Knowledge and Interest I apply. (Yes I couldn’t think of anything starting with ‘N’ to make them spell MUNKI). These will all improve my techniques, but in achieving these it will improve me and my life in general.
So back to the philosophical quote I butchered at the beginning of all of this. Getting a nice piece of coloured material to wrap around my waist is not going to keep me coming back and it is not going to make ME better. Focussing on learning, enjoying and applying technique will, because it makes my training fun and makes me less grumpy (Mrs Munki is thankful for this!), but most of all for and old munki keeps my mind, body and spirit feeling young.