My Jiu-Jitsu instructor Conan recently told me that he doesn’t “know” anything about Jiu-Jitsu, he just has some “ideas”. I think that’s a great attitude to have towards training, and life in general. Sometimes what we “know” can get in the way of our learning, by limiting our receptiveness to other points of view, or causing us to stop examining our knowledge and growing.
I believe Conan’s statement also reflects maturity. It seems as though those who are younger, in actual age or in training time, are more likely to want to cling to the comfort of feeling as though they know something. With time comes the realization that not everything is always so clear-cut, and what we know might not be so absolute. Martial arts are not an exact science, and what works for (or against) one person might not work for (or on) someone else. Even when you think you have perfected a technique, it’s often possible that you can still make it better, you never know.
“Knowing” means there is nothing else to learn, but having “ideas” leaves room for improvement. If as a black belt Conan doesn’t know anything about Jiu-Jitsu, then it’s obvious that I still don’t have the slightest clue. I have an understanding on how some things work, but I am always trying to see beyond my own limited knowledge. I never say I “know” martial arts, instead I say I “train” or “practice”. The longer I train, and the older I get, the less I know…but the more ideas I have to work with.