Sunday, January 15, 2012

Committed if Convenient?

Hi Friends,

I’m noticing a disturbing trend amongst our society these days that has spilled over into the BJJ arena. It seems the “Fast food” mentality that has been developing over many years in America has, for some BJJ practitioners, overlapped and crept into many of their training regimens. This idea of entitlement to train only if convenient for one’s self will only hinder progress and progression in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (or any other aspect of life for that matter). To provide some perspective I’m going to tell you a little story about my BJJ journey, in a time when Jiu-Jitsu was sparse in the US at best, let alone in the state of Washington.

After a business trip to Texas with my father which served as my first introduction to BJJ (also my first time meeting my close friend and mentor Allen Mohler), I returned home and immediately began researching training options locally. At the time, there was one school in the state with a Brazilian, black belt instructor. At that time the main BJJ hub for Brazilians to go teach in the US was California (still partially holds true today), mostly in part to the sun and beaches! So, it seems fate was on my side at the time, since the odds of being blessed with a Brazilian instructor, let alone a black belt, here in our very rainy state were minimal at best.

I was so committed to the art that the thought of a 40 minute drive to the gym, and another 40 minute drive back home didn’t make even me flinch. I can honestly tell you that the thought of switching to another school didn’t even cross my mind over the several years I trained at that location. Unfortunately, after a couple changes in ownership as well as several changes of instructors, the school shut down. There was a lull in training, many months of getting together in random garages with my buddies and trying to stay sharp on what I had learned up to that point. 

Fast forward a few months and a Ralph Gracie affiliate school opened up in Burien. I jumped at the opportunity to train again and took up a 2 hour round trip to resume my training again. At that time I was training BJJ four days a week and lifting weights the other three (ah to be in my early 20’s again). Shortly after beginning my training in Burien, and after many years of frustrating dating experiences, I met my beautiful wife Amy. So, I then added the following to my routine (did I mention I was working two jobs at the time?):

  • Get up at 5am to open Emerald City Smoothie in Burien by 7am
  • Work at ESC until noon and then commute over an hour to Lakewood
  • Work at Pierce College in Lakewood from 1-5pm.
  • Wait at Pierce College for Amy to get out of her classes at 7pm.
  • Go to Amy’s house to have diner, watch movies, and hangout until 2am
  • Rinse and repeat 5 days a week

During all of the aforementioned activities I still maintained my training schedule and eventually earned my purple belt in BJJ. So, I’m guessing by now you guys are hopefully able to understand why you get a tilted head, raised eyebrow, or scoff from me when I hear how tough it is to make it to class at such and such time, how far it is for you, etc.

The point I’m trying to make is that if you are truly committed to something you will find a way to make it work! However, if you are only going to be committed when it is convenient to do so, you are guaranteeing that you will fail. Believe me when I tell you, I could have come up with many great excuses if I had wanted to waste my effort on it. To progress and improve at BJJ you need to be consistent, part of being consistent is being committed to improving. Even if you are only able to train one day a week, if you do so consistently, you will see steady progress. You can’t take an all or nothing approach to your training “Well, I can only make it in a couple of times this week, so I’m going to just wait and not come in until next week when I can train more”.

In closing, I realize that everyone has other commitments outside of BJJ, including but not limited to, family, work, etc. With that said, I also know that all of us are able to MAKE time for the things we want to do. If you are truly serious about your training and love the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, find your resolve and MAKE time to train. See you on the mats!


Coach James Foster