Provoke The Stoke
The very nature of Jiu-Jitsu as a combat sport sees a lot of rivalry attached to it; whether it be between clubs, teams, individual competitors, and sometimes even between teammates. And of course this is no surprise with the underlying premise of Jiu-Jitsu being to defend one’s self from an attacker, and the underlying premise of Jiu-Jitsu competition being to defeat one’s opponent.
But for someone like myself, someone who has decided to pursue Jiu-Jitsu as a lifestyle, this constant rivalry/competition can become a tiresome game. And the politics attached to this even more so: This team doesn’t like that team, that guy’s Jiu-Jitsu is all strength and no technique, that club’s ideals are wrong; these are all criticisms that are constantly thrown around. And once you’ve been involved in this martial art/sport for sometime you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about, and you’ll definitely have been both a victim of these politics and perpetrator of these politics at some point. But is this the right approach?
I have played a lot of sports in my life. I’ve enjoyed basketball, athletics, skateboarding, surfing, Muay Thai, MMA, and Jiu-Jitsu. And the single sport I still get the most enjoyment in watching is skateboarding. Skateboarders are amazing technicians, and anyone who has ever pursued skateboarding knows that it is an extremely difficult sport to advance in, let alone master. Once understood, the aesthetics of skateboarding are absolutely beautiful to watch. As a viewer you start to focus attention on a skateboarder’s style, their technique, their flow. As a fan of skateboarding it is almost impossible not to get stoked when watching an amazing technician pull-off some out-of-this-world trick. You just can’t help it; whether you’re a fan or not a fan of the team they ride for, the brand they represent, or the skater they are, when that skater pulls off some crazy trick you can’t help but to get amped on it yourself. Even the skateboarders themselves get amped on one another. You see it in social media all the time. One skateboarder of one team praising the achievements of their competitor. They are purely stoked on that competitor’s display of amazing skateboarding, and acknowledge it as such. This is something I personally miss in the martial arts arena. An arena which for me draws a lot of parallels with skateboarding by way of technique, style, and aesthetics; but has the one added element of combat.
As aforementioned, the very nature of combat sports being to defeat your opponent, and sometimes defeat them in a painful manner, sees a tremendous amount of rivalry brew. As a competitor myself I have often been immersed in this. I have down-talked opponents, up-talked my team, up-talked myself, etc, etc. These are all tactics to build yourself up, build your team up, ways of trying to talk yourself into, or convince yourself into confidence and mental strength. And sometimes as a competitor these are necessary tactics. But I am personally tiring of this game. I am starting to take a different approach, an approach similar to these skateboarders and skateboarding fans. I am starting to much more enjoy watching great Jiu-Jitsu technicians in action, whether they be from my team or not, part of my friendship circle or not, a rival or not. I’m starting to remove my bias, and enjoy amazing Jiu-Jitsu for what it is. If I see someone pull-off an amazing submission, a submission attempt, a transition, an escape, whatever it be, I’m getting that stoke, and enjoying that stoke. Before I would look at everyone as competition, even if I was not at their level yet, and I was mentally and sometimes outwardly downplaying them and trying to build myself up. I can near guarantee that all competitors do this at some point. But this was coming to wear me out mentally, even to the point of not even enjoying being at Jiu-Jitsu competitions. For now at least I am taking a lighter approach, an approach of enjoying the sport for its beauty whether that be me pulling it off, an opponent pulling it off, someone from a rival team, whoever. Let’s face it, whilst Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art at its core, in its current state it is a sport in its competition, and whilst I love the martial art I would be very much lying to say that it isn’t the sport that I don’t get the most enjoyment from. So at least for now I am going to try to enjoy it as much as I can….
Thanks for reading and happy rolling,
Co-owner at Flow Martial Arts