One of my bros recently told me to “keep my eyes on the prize” in Jiu-Jitsu, and I had to ask myself exactly what I would consider the prize to be. It certainly isn’t any medal, as I don’t really enjoy competition, and I’ve only done it to improve myself. The prize isn’t about beating my teammates in class, because that rarely happens, and as I improve, so do they, which means that’s unlikely to ever change. Even when it does happen, most of the time I feel bad for them. The prize isn’t about self-defense, because although that’s why I started training Jiu-Jitsu, it’s not why I stay. It isn’t about getting a black belt, because, honestly, I’m happiest in white, and I already have a black belt that I don’t want to wear.
So, what is the goal, what is it that keeps me wanting to move forward? Well, I guess I just love Jiu-Jitsu, and that makes me strive to overcome all of the things that hold me back. I love grappling the same whether I win or lose, which is a good thing, because I lose a lot. In the past I’ve been too concerned with how other people assess my abilities, instead of just focusing on enjoying my journey. I was worried that if I wasn’t good enough, people wouldn’t respect me, or they wouldn’t want to roll or work with me. It wasn’t as much a personal fear of failure as it was a fear of not being accepted.
For me, the prize is about overcoming the fears that keep me from enjoying Jiu-Jitsu (and in turn, life) as much as I can, and training at LBJJ has helped me move forward toward that goal. I truly feel like I belong there, and I’ve been getting a lot of personal assistance from Greg and my brothers, which has made me stop worrying about how much I suck. I may be on the bottom rung of the ladder, but people are reaching down to help me up, and I don’t think they would be doing that if they didn’t respect me. I might never be a great Jiu-Jitsu fighter, but I can always be better, and that’s what keeps me going.