I have done my best to articulate the value of Jiu Jitsu as a tool for personal development. I will continue to be an advocate for this gentle art for as long as I live, for my life can most easily be codified into 2 epochs: Pre and Post Jiu Jitsu.
Of all the immense benefit the sincere training of Jiu Jitsu has had on my life, I have most enjoyed the building of lasting and meaningful relationships.
The Peer Group
For those who practice, we understand the immense value Jiu Jitsu brings to our lives. Further examination reveals that all of these benefits are only made possible by our teammates, the greatest assets in our development.
I have had the privilege to train under Professor Ricardo Almeida for nearly a decade, and beyond the advantage of training daily with UFC royalty, the hard training with like-minded individuals has formed an invaluable tool in my development: my peer group.
Enter “The Purple Circle.” We called ourselves this because, at the time, we were all purple belts.
…and the purple circle has a nice ring to it.
The team within the team, we suffered together toward our goals, ever forcing one another to evolve so as not to be left behind. I had to be better because my brothers became better. Sibling rivalry (and love) proved to be a better motivator than fear, goals, or Tony Robbins.
When viewing Jiu Jitsu as a tool for personal development, Jiu Jitsu becomes a means rather than an end. It is meant to serve something greater.
The training partners that fuel our development on the mat are the impetus for the progress in the rest of our lives. My humanity has grown in proportion to my ability as a martial artist, an ability which was fostered by the sincere efforts toward mastery of those in my immediate circle. Their skill continually forced my own evolution. This is why the bonds we forged run so deep.
My top priority has always been to become more so I have more to give. My teammates have always provided the resistance to force that development, and the love and fellowship to ensure my continued practice.
Understanding the immense debt we owe our teammates forges a bond uncommon in our daily lives. I know that I am a better version of myself because they became better versions of themselves. The countless hours of shared suffering toward mutual goals has become a foundation for life-long friendships, relationships which are no longer contingent upon Jiu Jitsu.
Our friendships transcend the art. I have the honor of being the Godfather to a beautiful baby girl and to have officiated the wedding of two wonderful people deeply in love. We now spend hours together without every talking about Jiu Jitsu, and this is only made possible because of Jiu Jitsu.
There is nothing more important in life than human relationships. Truly great friendships must be centered around something. When I reflect on my peer group, the team within the team, I realize that our friendships are not actually centered around Jiu Jitsu; they are grounded in knowing that we were each other’s most valuable tools in the achievement of our higher selves.
Call to Action
Invest in your training partners. Help them achieve their goals because in so doing you will achieve your own. We are only as strong as the people we surround ourselves with, and whether on the mat or off it, our relationships will deepen to the degree that those involved deepen themselves. Jiu Jitsu is an incredible tool for personal development. It is also a bedrock upon which lifelong relationships can be built.
The arm bars don’t matter. The people do. Be the kind of teammate your teammates deserve. Serve them through whatever means you are capable. Their fellowship will return your investment ten-fold.