It is with great excitement that we release the first chapter of my new book, The Tao of Jiu Jitsu. As with the My Mastery series, this is a book which focuses on the acquisition of skill within this art and the accompanying growth which permeates the rest of our lives.
While writing, I find myself always returning to Jiu Jitsu. I have made an effort to focus my writing on fiction, for I believe this to be where my future lies, but I am ceaselessly compelled to write about this art. I have spent more time practicing Jiu Jitsu than any other human activity, in a community of highly-skilled practitioners led by one of the world’s best. Doors have been opened to me that have remained closed in all other endeavors, and I have been fortunate enough to have had the presence of mind to walk through them.
I have spent the last eight years devoted to Jiu Jitsu. The mat time condensed into this epoch far outweighs the calendar. I originally set out to master Jiu Jitsu, but sometime around brown belt I realized mastery does not exist. It is an ever receding horizon, and the more skilled one becomes the more it eludes him. I am by no means an authority on Jiu Jitsu. By societal standards my merits are few. I have never won a world championship. I have never fought in the UFC. I had reasonable success in local tournaments (as most of us have), but my track record of competing is not indicative of my understanding of this art or my progress as a human. My sole focus along this journey has been who am I becoming, and I pursued this through means other than competition.
I have been surrounded by world champions from the beginning. Their accomplishments do not lend credence to my words. It does, however, ensure that I have been around the highest forms of mastery and have been able to connect the dots to whatever degree my intellect allows.
So, in writing this book, what are my qualifications?
I live a life I enjoy. Jiu Jitsu has helped me see the world and myself through clear eyes. It has given me the opportunity to serve others without martyrdom, to foster the development of children, and has been a means of introspection of unrivaled efficiency. I have had access to one of the greatest minds in Jiu Jitsu on a daily basis. I have spent countless hours off the mat taking notes, mind-mapping positional permutations on the whiteboard, studying videos of the world’s finest. I have trained purposefully and intelligently under world class guidance. I was given an opportunity, and I seized it to the best of my ability.
My motivations for writing this book are best explained by George Bernard Shaw:
“Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
All education must be passed on. The torch is meant to be passed through generations, and to bring that fire with you without passing it on is to burn one’s self. I have grown a great deal from my experiences in Jiu Jitsu, but were I to neglect passing them on, I will have made the greatest folly of all. In the modern world we are surrounded by so much abundance that we cannot see it. We forget that the state of nature, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, is “nasty, brutish, and short.” Each of us stands on the shoulders of our predecessors. Paved roads, predator-less parks, vaccines, books, cozy shelters and unlimited access to food, all of these were made possible by those who came before.
As far as our relation to the physical world, I doubt there will be much more improvement. Our basic survival needs have been met, and much of our current progress is superfluous or downright troublesome. Most advancement is performed out of comfort rather than necessity. What we are lacking, what the world so desperately needs now, is adjustments of the mind. We need to see the world again with fresh eyes, and come to an understanding of who we are as individuals, and what drives us. I have been blessed to carry a torch, and it has always lit my path. Over the years this torch has grown, and now extends out in all directions, pervading through much of human activity. This book is a means of passing that fire on. If it dies with me it would be wasted. I have learned many valuable lessons in a way that has maximized my development as a person. With this text, I will do my best to convey these lessons.
Hold fast to your torch.