Darby: This is Part Two of a mini series on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle. I'm here at the coffee shop with Ruby. She is a student at Team Haanpaa Martial Arts and has been a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast for the last 9 months. We've been wanting to do this blog series for a little while. I just figured now's as good a time as any. She's going to ask me a couple questions about jiu jitsu, self-defense, life, martial arts - pretty much things that I hear every week - and feel like we could benefit from some dialog on. So if you are reading this join the conversation. put your two cents in in the comments.
Ruby: How do you have confidence in sometimes the few abilities that you're bringing with you onto the mat, and you constantly get smashed or you constantly get subbed? How do you maintain your own sense of personal confidence, especially during the beginning?
Darby: I don't get smashed or subbed, so I don't do that very often ... Just kidding. But I do, I do. In jiu jitsu, it's very funny because with Brazilian jiu jitsu, you're going into something so foreign from what most people are used to. I always tell people when it's their first jiu jitsu class ... It's like trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle. The fish is used to swimming in the water, and then trying to teach it to run on land is one thing but then not just run on land, but try and teach it to ride a bicycle. That's like learning jiu jitsu for most people. Throughout the day, they're up and walking and running and sitting and standing. The only time they're lying down is when they're sleeping. You're not being cognitively, consciously involved in that effort.
Jiu jitsu is a huge learning curve, when you get onto the mat and you take things to the ground and you're trying to learn things and you start sparring initially. It's like you are at the bottom of the totem pole. It takes a long time to climb to the top. Even more than that, it's like you have to learn about cause and effect, and you have to learn how to respond to the feedback that is coming to you via failure. If you feel like, "I'm losing" when you get tapped or you feel like a failure, you need to analyze what your mission is and what your motive is. Are you judging your worth and your value based on how this roll went? What do you do with that feedback when it comes your way? The only way you're going to get better is by getting on the mat, drilling the moves, learning how this is applied, and practicing that in application through sparring.
If you're succeeding, then you just feel good. You're like, "Oh yeah, this is awesome." You remember that ... It's like a highlight moment and it's imprinted in your mind when you did something right and you did that successful arm bar or you did that successful choke, whatever it was ... Successful toe hold. There's like this imprinting that happens, and you really remember that moment and you get good at that one thing. You feel good about that. The opposite is true when you start sucking at something. You don't want to pay attention there. The truth is, that's probably ... When you're a white belt, that's where you need to pay the most attention to, is that you suck at. That's going to be the biggest hole in your game to some extent. I think you have to be paying attention to position when you're a white belt ... positional control, stuff like that. Submissions are important, but not paramount. I think some submissions - like super complex chains of events that lead to an eventual submission - might not be the most important thing for a white belt to learn. Keep it simple, keep it fundamental, but pay attention to your failures.
Think about that as cause and effect. You did something and there was an effect that came back your way. If you evaluate that effect, then you can make an adjustment and you can do something slightly different next time, or maybe majorly different next time. If you look at that as, "Aw man, I suck indefinitely. I suck forever", then you're going to feel like you suck forever and people are going to quit. They're not going to want to continue their training. If they do, they'll be very unmotivated. The worse you feel about your training, the less likely you are to get better. If you feel like you suck, you're more likely to suck. You have to look at that as a cause and effect. The cause is you doing the move improperly at the wrong time. This is reality. You're doing it wrong and you're doing it at the wrong time. That's why it's not working. Not because the move doesn't work, because all the other black belts are finishing this move correctly on people. You are doing it wrong and you're doing it at the wrong time.
If you cannot be honest with yourself about that, you'll never get better. If you can be honest with yourself about that and not let it affect your mental well-being negatively, then you'll get better. If you're honest with yourself about that, and then you let it affect you negatively, it's going to be hard to improve that. If you look at it as cause and effect ... "I did it wrong or at wrong time and I need to figure out how to fix that", and then the effect is after you change it, the effect is going to be better and better. You're going to improve. You look at it as simple ... This is the process of getting better. This is the journey. You don't base your value or your worth on whether or not you win your sparring match, or any match.
Ruby: You shouldn't.
Darby: You shouldn't.
Ruby: You shouldn't.
Darby: Right, you shouldn't, but it happens.
Ruby: Oh yeah, and it looks like a lot of people do it anyway. The students who are ... They manage to win a lot. I guarantee they're creating worth and value over the fact that they win a lot.
Darby: It feels good. it feels good to win at the end of the day. I could speak on that a little bit. It feels good to win. I lost my last two matches - my last two jiu jitsu matches - in ... I feel bad because of it. I'm less motivated to get out there and do better sometimes. I think the motivation for me is not wanting that to be like my last match. I can't let my last match be a loss, or something like that. Not like I'm planning on quitting or anything like that, but I just feel obligated now to go out and win. There's motivation there. It doesn't feel good. There's positive motivation and there's negative motivation. I hear people say a lot that you learn a lot more from your failures than you do your successes.
I think there's truth in that, but I also think there's a big lie. You only learn a lot more from your failures if you pay attention to how that went and you go back and do better. If you just fail and then you have this negative experience so you stay away from it ... I think you can think about how many times band sucked in school so I never wanted to go back and learn the saxophone because I hated learning how to read sheet music and had a negative experience there. That was a failure. I didn't learn a whole lot from that. Maybe I found out I didn't like music, but I love music. Maybe I found out I didn't like reading sheet music or something, but really with a little more hard work and effort, I think I could have benefited greatly from that skill.
You can learn a lot more from your failures than you do your successes, but I think the benefit of the success is it's positive reinforcement ... You're mind takes to it much more naturally. That positive reinforcement, that good feeling of winning and everything ... You like that and you're like, "I want to do so much more of this. I want to succeed a lot more. It feel good when I landed that arm bar. All I want to do now is arm bars because I'm so good at them." You get better at them. I think I sidetracked from what you actually originally were talking about.
Ruby: About losing. People who win a lot get their value from winning a lot. If you lose a lot, people tend to think, "That makes me a loser".
Darby: Think about ... That's just it. You cannot base your value on that because that sucks. Life sucks if that's it. That's not true. There's so much more to you than winning or losing in that moment. There's so many factors that go in to why that person won and why you lost. You lost right now because of you and because of where you're at in your journey. They won right then because of them and because of where they're at in their journey. It's always going to be comparing apples to oranges. You can't compare your loss in that moment to their victory, and then place equal value on it because you guys don't have the same story. Does that make sense?
Ruby: I feel you. It's very easy, especially in male dominated sports, or traditionally the male way of thinking of, "You win or you lose". That's the way it is. You won by a point? You still won. You lost by a point? You still lost. I think it's really hard in competitive sports or with people who are competitive, if they win or they lose or you win or you lose to them ... You get that vibe of, "Is my work completely invalidated?" It's really easy to say, "Yes, it's completely invalidated." So much easier.
Darby: Yeah. My last match specifically was probably the best example of this, where I lost by less than a second according to the ref. I didn't lose ... I actually won according to the time keeper. I dominated positionally the whole match. At the end of it, it was like, "He lost by less than a second", or whatever the ref decided that it was the other guy was the victor ... Now I can look at that and say, "It was his fault or the other person's fault or the time keeper or the system should have been better." Some of those things might have some truth to them, but it really doesn't matter at the end of the day. What I choose to do is I walk away and I say, "I lost because of me. If I would have brought a game to the table that submitted that guy within the time limit, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place." He won because of him. He didn't win because of me. He won because of him.
You have to take personal ownership ... The more personal ownership you can take of your current situation, the more control you're going to have about positively changing it and positively ... If you say, "I get to choose to be happy, I get to choose to be sad." If I choose to be a positive person and improve, you're going to be a positive person who improves. Your comparison to somebody else can only go so far. I only compare myself to the extent like ... I see something that they do similarly to me and I want to add that to my game. If I see an opportunity for me to improve based on what they're doing, I will, but I can't look at them and measure up my value - my personal value, my worth, my personal worth. Value needs to be something that's intrinsic. It's something that's built into who we are as people. Everybody is valuable. Intrinsically, there's value in who you are and you have something to bring to the table that's unique.
It's different when you're talking about a sport environment. If I was out tapping everybody at the highest levels of jiu jitsu and the absolute division and everything like that, then that would validate me as a jiu jitsu practitioner and as a sport competitor. If I go out there and I lose to everybody and I claim to be something I'm not, that invalidates me as a competitor. I still, at the end of the day, believe it would be up to me personally to change that for the better, to change that for the worst. At the end of the day, it does not need to determine my personal value as a person. Does that make sense? Or even how I feel. Whether I'm going to be happy or sad or have a good day or a bad day. I don't know if that works or not, but that's my take on it right now.
Ruby: Reminds me of Goku.
Ruby: Goku. He's always excited. He wouldn't kill Vegeta in the earlier episodes of Dragon Ball Z, and his teammates are begging him to put this guy out of his misery. He's like, "No, because he'll recover and I have to beat him." The stronger the opponent, the more excited I am. I love that. I love that guy, that character, because of that. He reminds me of you.
Darby: That is the best thing anybody has ever said to me.
Ruby: He's always excited, always very positive about training. It's like, "Hey, let's go into a room and train for a year to defeat this great foe coming on the Earth." His son's with him ... "We're going to train together" and he's so excited, even though they're facing the end of the world. "Let's go train!", and he's so excited.