In the martial arts community there exists a tacit truth which goes unspoken because it is so socially repulsive.
Way, way down, deep in our core, we enjoy the feeling of being able to physically subdue another human. Academies across the globe consist of members from all walks of life with equally different goals. Martial arts is the vehicle with which we lead healthier lives, learn a valuable skill, and carve out the ineffable nature of our soul. As we progress along this journey so must our motivations.
We are driven by our egos. Our need to establish ourselves as a dominant creature stems back as far as our species does. To exercise strength and superiority ensured our opportunity to mate, feed and survive. Throughout the eons we have failed to shed this fundamental desire and so we look for a medium with which to express it.
There exists few experiences more satisfying than choking someone from the mount.
In the most basic terms of significance and self-worth, it is hard to feel small while doing something so grand. This natural inclination toward the dominance of a fellow human being is hereditary, and to pretend it is not a driving force in our lives is to sever a large part of our nature. Once we accept this truth, as politically incorrect as it may appear, we afford ourselves the opportunity to transcend it.
I would posit that vast majority of us are called to martial arts for this fundamental need. The need to feel strong and be strong. This being so, ultimately your reasons for beginning pale in comparison to your reasons for continuing. If years into your martial arts training you still find yourself driven by the need to dominate another then you have failed.
Each of my books about Jiu Jitsu can be summarized in one phrase,
Jiu Jitsu is the vehicle. Not the road.
What this means is that Jiu Jitsu is not the end, but a means toward a greater experience. With all it’s bells and whistles, in the highest matters of the soul it is simply meant to be a ferry to bring you from one shore to another. The point is not to learn how to fight others. The message, should we hear it, is to learn to fight the weaknesses of our own character.
This is the significance of committing one’s self to a task so physically demanding and cognitively complex. In a world so intent on accomplishment and its display, there is no greater achievement than who we become. This is the true test of a martial artist and for that matter, a human. Have you taken the lessons that improve your guard passing and used them to become kinder, more gentle? Have you transmuted your growth in Kimuras to your understanding of yourself?
Have you learned to exhaust yourself toward a worthy goal?
In a world riddled with turmoil and a culture ceaselessly trying to bend us to it’s will, we must make a conscious choice to strive toward self-actualization. I have experienced no greater tool than Jiu Jitsu which is why I have committed much of my life to its teaching. I have grown in ways I never thought capable as a direct result of its practice. Whenever we find something of value it becomes our responsibility to share it with others.
In the words of Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey,
“If you are lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”
Sending the elevator back down is only made possible by its ascent. Thus, we find ourselves tasked with a climb we undertake initially for ourselves, and ultimately for others.