"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."
- Michaelangelo

Jiu Jitsu is a skill. All skills are fostered through intelligent repetition.

There is no substitute for mat time. The most efficient way to get better at Jiu Jitsu is to do Jiu Jitsu. With the combination of guidance and will, effort is the deciding factor in a student’s progress.

“We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. It’s the other way around. Effort can trump ability—relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor coordination.”- Malcolm Gladwell

For every technique we have a magic number, a certain amount of repetitions between us and mastery. For some techniques our number is low; others it is great. Consider your magic numbers for upas and berimbolos.

I took a great deal of solace from this understanding in the beginning of my training. Throughout the years, I have trained more hours with Max Bohanon than any of my fellow teammates. Max is a sevant; his innate athletic ability is a rarity in this world, and his willingness to improve (and his heart) even more so. Many times throughout the past 8 years, Professor Almeida would show the two of us a technique; Max would perform it beautifully on his first attempt, and I would flail about in obscurity.

First, I never measured my self worth relative to another. I found no remorse in my relative incompetence. Second, I have always known Max’s magic number is often smaller than my own. A skill he could do immediately would take me a few training sessions (and hundreds of purposeful reps) to acquire. Though my number was high, it existed; this was enough to keep going.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” -Calvin Coolidge

I have always been comforted by this truth. Barriers to entry always give way to human will.

Spark Your Growth

A few summers ago, I ran a solo marathon throughout our neighboring towns. It was a suffer-fest, and I loved it. Inspired by the race's origin, I wanted to feel what Pheidippides's felt, so I purposely did not train for it. (Pheidippides fought in the Battle of Marathon before his run to Athens. I settled for Jiu Jitsu.)

I remember beginning the run, smiling. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other until I finished. There is a comfort in simplicity.

All endeavors, especially the scary ones, are accomplished through consistent effort. For any skilled based activity, your potential is governed by a certain amount of practice. For some the number is small, for some it is vast, but the numbers hold little significance compared to one's will.

The view from the top of the mountain is not determined by the speed with which you climb.

Its beauty is the same to all who reach the summit.

Photo by Kelly Raines