We can only achieve our highest selves within a community. We need the alternative lenses, the support, and accountability that a community provides to fully actualize ourselves in our own unique way. Jiu Jitsu provides the exact community that an individual needs to grow, and below are three reasons why I am grateful for the community we are building at MBJJ.
#1- The Social Contagion
“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”- Jim Rohn
There is no way around this. It is one of the truest maxims I have ever observed. Through osmosis, we subtly merge our thought, speech, and behavior patterns with those in our immediate environment. This being so, we had better ensure that those around us are living according to an ideal that we ourselves seek.
The Jiu Jitsu academy is a place where people from all walks of life come together to learn this art. We are all seeking something different from our time in this art, but we are all seeking something. It is this seeking which unites us. This is one of the core aspects of any academy and is why we have so purposefully communicated this through our tagline “Where we pursue individual goals as a collective.”
When our environment consists of fellow men and women constantly exceeding who they are for who they can become, we are encouraged to do the same. And not only encouraged, it is expected of us.
If we do not match the growth of our peers, they will soon cease to be so.
#2- Social Support
Life is hard. Even when our lives are awesome, life is hard.
Our Jiu Jitsu academy is an extended family, one in which we all meet on the common ground of Jiu Jitsu to foster meaningful relationships. One of the greatest benefits of my own journey has been the amazing relationships I have developed with people I otherwise would have never met. Some of my closest friends are plastic surgeons, insurance salesmen, and school teachers, men whose paths I could have only crossed on the mats.
In being a member of a tribe, we are constantly held in check, ensuring we do not deviate too far from our ideal. When we do, it is our peer group which reminds us of where we want to go, and the fact that we are heading somewhere else.
On the most superficial level, being a member of a Jiu Jitsu academy ensures that we take care of our physical conditioning, eat well, and get adequate sleep so as to perform well in training with our partners. It is this accountability of our partners which fosters the necessity of proper living.
#3- Social Science
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a student in a Jiu Jitsu academy is that you have access to philosophies so different from your own. We are all so confined by the nature of subjective experience that if we are not constantly reminded of the perspectives and beliefs of others, we will come to believe that our way is the way, rather than a way.
I am a 31 year old white male living in central New Jersey. I barely have a grasp of my own experience, let alone the rest of humanity who has lived a life so contrasting to my own. Jiu Jitsu provides me friendship with people so different from my traditional peer group of age, socioeconomic standing, geography, and interests.
I have learned so much from befriending those both older and younger than myself, gaining a newfound appreciation for all things parenting from having direct communication with so many parents on a daily basis. The conversations late at night after training often teach me more about what it means to be human than any book. It is the people in our lives who can be our greatest teachers, if we simply know how to use them wisely.
Jiu Jitsu provides us the varied perspectives that allow us to better calibrate our own.
The individual needs the community. In a Maslowian sense, we only achieve our highest selves standing on the foundations of a society. We owe the opportunity to be an individual to the mass of men and women who came before, and we can only find our truest selves within a collective. It is the Jiu Jitsu community which offers a peer group truly invested in our growth. Our teammates hold us accountable to our commitments, providing the atmosphere which supports, challenges, and teaches us, all while we learn the invaluable skill of self-defense.
I have devoted my life to Jiu Jitsu, but the people in Jiu Jitsu will always come first. You cannot live, nor do Jiu Jitsu, alone.
I am grateful we have each other.