So this past weekend we were fortunate to accompany our first Flow Martial Arts Comp Team to the South Pacific Championships here in Queensland. This was a milestone moment for our Academy. Whilst myself, Professor Paulo, and our student Yasmine had been competing under Flow for the past 7 months, we had been competing together previously under another team. This was the first group to come out of Flow.
Now we were never going to be world beaters. For starters there were just 4 members representing Flow. We were possibly the smallest team there. Secondly, 2 such members had only been training just under 6 months in total, and the other 2 members were each coming off a 10+ year break from Jiu-Jitsu. But nevertheless, as coaches we were honored to have this group compete under our banner and for our team. And similarly, very proud of their efforts and sportsmanship.
It was a great day for everyone; we had some wins, we had some losses, everyone learned lessons, and we are a better team because of the experience.
On the drive back to the Gold Coast from Brisbane we all got talking and something one of our students said really resonated with me. But before I talk of this conversation, first here’s a little background on this student.
This student had not competed in 13 years, and had quit Jiu-Jitsu 10+ years ago only to return this past 7 months. Originally he had quit due to an eye opening experience he had had with a friend on a soccer field in Brazil. He was a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, and his a friend a Muay Thai fighter. In friendly banter among friends his friend started to question him on what he would do in certain confrontational situations. This student at the time was quite lost, he was a blue belt but could not adapt his Jiu-Jitsu to the role play fighting they were doing there on the soccer field. He naturally felt a little embarrassed, and very let down by Jiu-Jitsu at that point. He felt the Jiu-Jitsu he was learning at that point was not practical, was too focused on the sport aspect, and consequently he left the martial art. And this was 10 years ago, long before the sport Jiu-Jitsu vs. self defence Jiu-Jitsu debate had really come to the fore.
This student in time moved to the Gold Coast Australia. Somewhere along his travels he discovered the Gracie University self defence tutorials, and with his mates started to train again in their garage in Coolangatta. Not long after we opened Flow Martial Arts and he and his friends would become members of our Academy. One thing they wanted from their Jiu-Jitsu was the self defence component, and this is something ,alongside sport Jiu-Jitsu, that we emphasise in our programs.
So back to our conversation in the car. On the day of this competition, this student’s first competitive experience in 13 years, he managed to dominantly win his first bout, but quite convincingly lost on points in his second bout. From my obviously bias opinion he defeated himself in the second bout, and definitely could have performed a lot better. In later talking on this experience he had mixed feelings, he was both happy and sad, but also quietly determined to work on his downfalls. But even with such mixed emotions and feelings on his performance, the thing he most happily drew attention to was his belief that his Jiu-Jitsu was now sufficient to protect himself in real-life confrontation. For him these last 7 months of training were most definitely a success. He had not walked away from the competition with a gold medal, but a gold medal had never been his motivation. Rather, as said in his own words, ‘I’m happy because I feel I have achieved what I had originally started Jiu-Jitsu for.’
I think there is a lot to be said of this. Rarely does anyone start Jiu-Jitsu because they want to be a sportsman or athlete. In having worked in 2 Academies now, the primary motivations of most people walking in the door are to learn to defend themselves, learn to fight, get fit and strong, and sometimes to find a social group. It is only after being around fellow competitors does the lure of testing oneself in the sport, the potential of earning medals, and the potential of earning social reward, become appealing. But these are rarely the original motivations for starting Jiu-Jitsu. So for me this was very refreshing to see a student of ours, a student who had just come off of a loss in the tournament, still having achieved his goal.
So for me, whilst I have come to love the competitive aspect of Jiu-Jitsu, and naturally like everyone my goals have changed over time, I do believe it still to be important to also stay true to your original goals. And whilst you may not always be a winner on the competition mats, if you are achieving the goals you had originally sought in starting Jiu-Jitsu you are surely winning.
Thanks for reading and happy rolling,
Co-owner at Flow Martial Arts