The Beauty of Struggle

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a struggle. From day one we are taught challenging movements that seem completely foreign to us. Rolling forward, backward, shrimping, bridging. We labor as we learn the complexity of techniques. Then we add another human being on top of us trying to strangle us and break our limbs. There is difficulty in BJJ no doubt. That’s why not everyone does it. Or why most who start it eventually quit. It’s just too damn challenging for most.

But that difficulty and inherit struggle is what gives it Brazilian Jiu Jitsu its teeth, its power and its beauty. The student who accepts (better yet seeks out) this struggle is naturally refined by the process. He goes from soft to strong. From clumsy to coordinated. From caveman to poet.

So the struggle pays dividends if the practitioner is willing to put in the daily work. There is no short cut. No easy way. It’s a grind day in, day out. Get addicted to the challenge. Seek it out. Don’t shy away from it.

BJJ can be a metaphor for life, so here goes: Life is struggle. Life is suffering. Life is pain. It is riddled with difficulties and challenges. There is no way around it. It is what it is whether you accept it or not. What would it be like if we accept or seek out the challenge of life? What if we treated it like a game (kind of like Jiu Jitsu competition)? How resilient would we become? How much would we evolve?
Is the parallel clear enough?

We may like the idea of being skilled at BJJ or life, but ideas have absolutely no value without action. Nothing happens without work (aka Struggle). Of course we will come up short numerous times. We will mess up a lot. That’s part of the struggle too. These “failures” are just more challenges and opportunities for refinement. No action, no results.

We all have given the gift of volition (the faculty or power of using one’s will). Laziness, comfort-seeking, and non-action leads to atrophy and decay of our volition. What a waste. Comfort softens us while challenging work makes us strong and resilient. And BJJ isn’t comfortable as any continuing practitioner will attest to.

We should seek challenges, struggle and adversity. We should accept set-backs and failures as part of the refinement process. We should also allow our children to struggle. To make them work. To let them be uncomfortable.  The world and adult life isn’t going to be easy so they shouldn’t be coddled. Let them struggle early on so that they can become resilient. This is critical for their overall mental/emotional well-being!

The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu provides a tried and true path toward self-mastery and human excellence (as well as being a highly effective self-defense art). With BJJ as our “way” all of life’s other struggles become significantly easier to handle. Because the art teaches us how to be resilient, clever, aware, efficient, accepting, and flowing. We can’t control the waves, but we can learn to surf. Either that or we can allow life to batter us around as we whine and complain about our lot. So, stay soft or get strong. The choice is ours.

Don’t pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.

-Bruce Lee

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