A black belt is not something you wear, it is something you become.
I started Jiu-Jitsu with the goal of becoming a black belt (this can be for any martial art really, same concepts apply).
I made the commitment to myself as a white belt I would keep training until I earned my black belt. This commitment has changed my life.
I have found over time it is not about the goal of the black belt itself, it is about the journey of who I am becoming along the way.
I think everyone signs up for Jiu-Jitsu with excitement (just like I did!). Expecting it to be fun and rewarding as this new venture is begun.
And it is.
However there are two sides of the same coin. It can also be frustrating, challenging and overwhelming.
And that’s ok.
Jiu-Jitsu is a parallel of life.
There are good days and bad days.
There are exciting times and hard times.
There are times when it feels like I am moving forward with successes and victories at an amazing rate, other times in feels like I have hit a plateau and nothing is working. The thing is, I never know how long the successes will last, or the plateaus will last. Sometimes a day, sometimes months.
I think the most damaging to people's training is they think it will always be good. It won't be. What is learnt through the hard days is just as important as the victories on the good days.
What about injuries?
I would have to say some of my biggest struggles in Jiu-Jitsu were my surgeries off the mats (I took approximately four years off hard training due to a car accident). Joel from Prime Physiotherapy helped me in making them blessings in disguise. We got me as strong as possible to get ready for the surgeries and to make sure the recovery went fast and well. Through this process I learnt an incredible amount about the human body, about strengthening weak muscles and the importance of it, I learnt about movement, I learnt how to work through physio even though it was boring because I understood the importance of it. The list goes on.
This has not only made me a better athlete but has made me a better instructor.
The concept is about not being defeated through injuries. But to properly rehab them, use the opportunity to strengthen the weak links, eat well so the body can heal strong. Injuries suck, but it is the nature of the beast. It is having the mentally of making those injuries a blessing in disguise. Good food, good physio, good rest, sometimes injuries can be an opportunity to work on a different part of my game on the mats, or get the reading in on the sports physiology books that I needed to.
My injuries have helped me talk my students through their injuries.
Giving up drinking. This is hard in our culture, drinking is a form of celebrating and having fun. For me I found since I stopped drinking because of the affects that it was having on me. I sleep better, think sharper my reaction times are faster, I am stronger. There is no magic to what I do. I just gave up something that was poisoning me. Sure it was hard at first. But in the long it is giving me that 1% advantage that I need (maybe even more).
My choice to not drink has made me a better leader.
I eat my shake in the morning, chicken and sweet potatoes for lunch, and my protein for dinner. I eat incredibly well because my body needs it for fuel for the hard training sessions.
My decisions in the healthy lifestyle has made me a better example.
Every single time I step on those Jiu-Jitsu mats I learn something. Sometimes it is a small lesson in a training session, other times it is what it takes to be a world champion.
The secret is consistency. Nothing replaces that. There’s no magic, shortcuts, no secrets. Just show up, and train.
This journey of becoming a black belt is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Challenges me in ways I never even knew existed.
Tests me to overcome and control my own emotions.
Keeps me out of trouble. Making good decisions to eat healthier, rest well, not drink, etc.
The time is going to pass anyways. Might as well spend it doing something that makes me be the best version of myself possible.
Most of all. Has taught me the importance of perseverance. The constant training (whether this is twice a week, two times a week, etc) the results will show.
Why do I do it? Because it has affected every area in my life a positive way.
I am completely different person I was when I started Jiu-Jitsu as a white belt. And although it’s been hard, it's been worth it. I am proud of my brown belt not because of the colour, but what I have had to do to get here.