It seems as though a lot of people spend so much time thinking about the past or future that they don’t really know how to be present in the moment. These days, people also have the instant distraction of the internet at their fingertips, so they’re often not even engaged in the activity currently around them. I’ve seen people constantly on their phones at weddings and funerals, or parents not paying attention when their child is giving a performance at school, because their mind is invested elsewhere. I’ve had people who’ve asked me to go out with them, and then they spent most of the time on their phone. Things like that make me wonder why they’re even there, if they’re not really interested in engaging with the people and events around them. It also makes me a little sad, because physical presence is not the same thing as actually being there.
To me, one of the best things about Jiu-Jitsu is that it requires you to be focused on what you’re doing. Honestly, I normally have the boredom threshold of a five-year old, but when someone is trying to choke you or break your arm, you can’t be daydreaming, you have to pay attention (unless you’re someone like Conan, who is rolling with someone like me, then you can probably contemplate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything ;). This ability to focus, to be able to cut out all other distractions, could even mean the difference between life or death in a self-defense situation.
Being focused and aware when you’re grappling is not only necessary for yourself, but because you are partially responsible for your partner’s safety. At one point during my blue belt test on Friday, when I was doing the bow and arrow choke, I had a collar grip on Mike, and my leg was over his arm. As Greg was telling me that I needed to adjust my other grip, I was so distracted by what he was saying, that at first I didn’t realize Mike was tapping. He tapped a good six times before it clicked with me and I let go. I almost inadvertently choked Mike out, because I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was doing.
It’s also important to have focus and awareness when you’re doing drills. If your mind is not engaged in the process, if you’re just going through the motions, then you’re not going to retain as much. A distracted mind is a hindrance to training, and the more present you are in the process, the more you’re going to get out of it. My dad always told me that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, and that means putting all of yourself into it. Even if you’ve done a drill a hundred times, every time you do it, you should be paying full attention. Save the endless distractions for outside of class. During training, you should try to get everything out of it you can, or you’re really just wasting time. When you’re in class, don’t just be there, be there.
“The best place to be….is here. The best time to be….is now.” -Bill & Ted