Last weekend when we replaced our mats, those of us who stayed at the dojo to remove the old mats had some time to kill before the new ones arrived, so Shihan recruited some of us to go to his office and answer the age old question “How many Jiu-Jitsu students does it take to move a large, heavy desk up a small, narrow stairway?” The answer is six; Jerad, Fuji, Martínez, Mike, Bauer, and myself. My job was simply to stand outside and hold the door open, yet somehow I am the only one who bled! I guess I now just start spontaneously bleeding whenever I am around Jiu-Jitsu players.
While we were there, Shihan took the opportunity to tell us about some of his history, philosophies, and beliefs. He talked about the people in the pictures that were surrounding us, all of the different teachers he’s learned from throughout his fifty-five year journey. Then he told us that there is only one law, and he pointed at each of us and said “Your law, your law, your law…”. He has always insisted that the only “one true way” is what is right for you, and it’s okay to create that from whatever sources you may choose. We train together, but we are each on our own path, and it should be as individual as we are. That is why he encourages us to try to find the answers ourselves, and why he welcomes exploration. I think some teachers might feel threatened when their students seek knowledge from other places, but Shihan insists you should use whatever works for you. You’re the one responsible for making sure your training fulfills your needs, and you will be on your own when it’s tested, whether in sport or self-defense. When Shihan was a Marine (I guess I should say active Marine, because once a Marine, always a Marine ;) he served under Lt. General Chesty Puller, who succinctly summed it up this way: