Shihan Roseberry often tells his martial arts students about a time he was talking to an accomplished jazz musician he knows, and when Shihan asked him what he thinks about before he goes onstage, the guy responded “I just tell myself to let it make sense.” Shihan says we should have the same attitude toward our training, because jazz is about improvisation, and so are the martial arts. There’s no point in knowing complicated notes or techniques if you can’t make sense of them when you’re free-styling, because then it’s nothing but noise.
I think one of my biggest goals when rolling in Jiu-Jitsu has always been to let it make sense. Let me act and react in the correct way, let me come from a place of knowledge and skill, let my choices be intelligent, let my movements be meaningful, let me flow. I feel like my best days in grappling have little to do with the end results of my rolls, instead they involve the times when I can truly understand everything that’s happening.
The longer I train BJJ, the more I’m able to make sense of it, and the sense I gain from it is far from common. Jiu-Jitsu also utilizes all my senses, because I feel, see, hear, and smell my partners, and I’ve even tasted their sweat in my mouth. Rolling used to overwhelm and confuse me, but now it’s the familiar feeling of a song I’ve played many times before, but never in the exact same way.