On the Cultivation of Strength in the Service of Others

Updated: Oct 14

There’s an old Zen saying that describes the aim of the Jiu Jitsu practitioner:

“Its better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener at war.”

We must have the tools to defend ourselves, without ever putting ourselves in a position to do so. At the Matakas Jiu Jitsu Academy, we stress the gentleness of the gentle art: that you can whoop your training partners without hurting them, that you can learn and grow through discipline and hard training while helping your partner, no matter their skill relative to your own, do the same–that the well-being of your partner matters far more than the achievement of any technique.

The embodiment of this ideal, which is the essence of Jiu Jitsu, is found in much ancient philosophy.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us:

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

I didn’t understand the meaning of this statement until I watched Jordan Peterson’s lecture series The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories, in which he says that the original definition of the word “meek” was something akin to: those who can wield a sword but keep it sheathed.

This is Jiu Jitsu.

This is our goal for our students. We will create technical and competent Jiu Jitsu practitioners, any of which after half a year of training could consistently subdue an assailant of equivalent size and strength without such training. But more importantly, we are creating world-class people.

We use Jiu Jitsu as the vehicle to mold ourselves. We cultivate great strength, and the moral education to implement that strength for the benefit, not harm, of others.

In our kid’s program, we are not creating bullies: we are helping our young students develop the confidence and strength to stand up to bullies. In our adults program, we are not creating mma fighters: we are giving our members the strength to better confront their daily responsibilities– the fight for living a worthwhile life which surpasses the value of fighting in any cage.

We teach the importance of being meek. Not timid. Not cowardly. But possessing great strength and choosing to use such ability in the service of one’s self and others. We are nodes in an network. Each of our lives affects so many others. When we develop strength, and the morals to implement that strength properly, the lives of those around us improve.

This is how we change the world. Not through aggression. Not by waiving our sword carelessly. But by having the capacity for great influence, and choosing to act through love, rather than force.

This is what it means to be meek. And perhaps, there is no higher compliment.

If you want to read Chris’s latest book on personal development, check it out here.

If you would like to be coached by Chris personally, click here.

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