You Are How You Train

By: Emily Kwok

It’s incredible how much training can reveal about the self.

It creeps up on you slowly after your obsession with training wears off a bit. When you are at ease with the notion of deliberate practice, when the hard work is no longer hard work and it just becomes habit. This is the time when we begin to learn intimate things about ourselves if we take the time for self reflection.

As a teacher, I notice that a person’s fighting nature is tied closely to their disposition. Nervous and anxious energy in a social context often translates to a spastic, white knuckled, frantic confrontation on the mats. Alternately, a calm, easy going, confident demeanor might exhibit itself as a fluid and controlled roll.Emily Kwok rolling with a brown belt student

So much of the grappling we do is less about our opponent and more about the self. How do we handle stress? How do we behave when we have power? What is our reaction when we are helpless?

Chances are, what we exercise on the mat is what we do in socialized settings as well.

It’s much easier to observe and judge how others behave over judging the self. Just like it’s much easier to blame your opponent for your depressed morale because they demolished you in the last round. Is the conflict with your partner or is the conflict with your own ego? If you were as good as you thought you were, shouldn’t you have been able to control the match?

It’s not to say that there aren’t times when you are being treated unfairly, because we all have run into circumstances where we are, but we have the choice in that moment to either make excuses or to take accountability.

If we choose to take accountability, we can go back to training with a focused mind and task ourselves with improving. Whether the growth comes in the form of speed, agility, power or knowledge, what we put in is measurable by how we perform.

Perhaps this is the heart of why so many of us are drawn to the art. BJJ gives us a physical platform to confront the deepest parts of the self. We can train traits in, or we can train them out. But most practitioners would probably agree that BJJ has made them a more solid and sound person.

It calms our soul.


One Comment

  • Andrea

    I love this article. BJJ is a very honest sport and teaches you a lot about yourself. Accountability is so important to growth, and I’m glad you mentioned it here.

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