Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Nietzsche believed that you had to be a slave before you could be free, that a discipline was necessary to mold the individual and serve as the foundation upon which he or she could attain their true freedom. It’s an odd truth that the purposeful acquisition of chains frees us from our self-imposed shackles.
Jiu Jitsu has served this function in my life. Being physical demanding, Jiu Jitsu requires that I eat well and exercise on a daily basis. It’s cognitive load constantly stretches the limits of my intellect as I seek to understand its depths. And the community it provides centers me in love as I strive to serve our students.
Jiu Jitsu demands virtue and leaves no place for vice. It’s a source of great limitation in my life. And these limits continue to serve me.
“The Gods are just and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us.”
Jiu Jitsu does not allow me to give way to human weakness. I can’t eat junk food that will impede my ability to train. I don’t get to exercise sloth in thinking due to the complexity of the art. And the love for my students frees me of my natural inclination toward self-centeredness. In all the ways I need, the confines of the gentle art free me from my own limitations.
Carl Jung had this idea that the Self–you in your totality that exists across time– beckons who you are to become who you could be through the experience of meaning. For the last decade, Jiu Jitsu has been the source of such meaning in my life–as it has for many of you.
Jiu Jitsu gives us the opportunity to suffer toward a worthy goal as we pursue our highest selves, while giving us the support of a community the secular world so often fails to provide. Jiu Jitsu provides the environment– in body, mind, and spirit– which the Self requires. The meaning we experience is the recognition of the validity of our path, a journey of restriction that leads to self-transcendence.
We are all slaves to something. So many choose the shackles of idle distraction. But we have the option to be a slave to something far greater– our family, a worthy cause, or the pursuit of our highest selves. These are the chains which, with their limitations, set us free.
Jiu Jitsu is such a master. And I am grateful we have found it.
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