A Question of Adversity and Character

I’ve been asked a question over and over recently by a number of different people “How do you put up with [X]? How do you keep on going?” and it’s not until tonight that I realised the answer.

It’s not solely about timing like I had long thought but about hard work and determination put on the mat when I was regularly training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Gracie Barra Birmingham. When you’ve had men and women half and double your size throw you around like a child, force you unconscious and push you to accept submission it knocks your ego and the good one’s get over it and carry on. I can remember a number of good experiences where my lights went out in training, and the feeling of helplessness or inability to prevent it stays with you! (in a good way).

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu forces you to adapt and to realise your limitations and most importantly to realise that whilst you are sometimes the nail, sometimes you are the hammer, and to get there you’ve got to taking the rough with the smooth. It teaches you humility and it teaches you not to give up because one week in sparring you will be on the end of a rear naked choke and the next you will be delivering it and that should remind you that progress does happen but it is never at the pace you want it at. You can only continue to get down to the mat, train hard and keep your ego in check because you will learn in two different ways: consciously and sub-consciously, so you will learn and improve no matter the quality of your opponent.

I remember a period of about 6 months where I was repeatedly training and I continued to be dominated by training partners of all belt colours before I attended a competition that led to success in gaining a bronze medal. The reason I remember it is because the week after the competition’s training was exquisite for me. Everything I wanted to do was working, my timing was sharp, my pressure was accurate and my speed could compete with those I had significant weight advantages over. It reminds me that whilst there was deep dark days where I would continue to be bested by my team-mates that one day, soon, it would be my time to return the favour.

In Gracie Barra I reflect on the good relationships with the Professors, Instructors and Coaches as well as my regular training partners and the lessons they taught me (not only the individual mechanics of a technique) but the fact that they put me under adversity and I learnt to be able to deal with being smashed on a regular basis knowing that it would soon be my turn to smash them.



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