A great teacher shares a wisdom and perspective that comes from looking back down the path on which we trudge ahead.
I am haunted by the nature of myopic thinking: one simply cannot know what one doesn’t know. Without a teacher, we become overly concerned with trivialities while missing the fundamentals which familiarity makes invisible.
I have been a black belt for a few years, and now more than ever, I find proper guidance to be imperative to continued skill development. Training is a science, each roll an experiment in which we collect data and make informed decisions based on experience. But due to the subconscious nature of skill development, we are rarely aware of our findings which manifest into assumptions, theory, and eventually, dogma.
A teacher shows us holes in our thinking by referencing experiences we have never had, through metaphors we could never think of, to explain a problem we can’t see in the context of a bigger picture we don’t know exists. In short, a teacher is able to put us back on the path we don’t know we’re on.
Professor Almeida has guided my training and life, both tacit and overt, in countless ways, and in hindsight I see just how valuable this influence has been. Witty aphorisms unnoticed in passing now return with humbling clarity. I observe bad habits in others which he never allowed me to create. By example, he taught me a strength which left no room for weakness.
Professor gave me something at which to aspire: a technical mastery grounded in theory and manifested through discipline, effort, and attention; he made the esoteric accessible. He laid down a blueprint for mastery that few of us have picked up, but it’s there, waiting for a practitioner capable of the requisite purposefully-directed attention. That blueprint, a universal template for all skill development, has been the greatest benefit of his teaching.
Professor has taught me a standard of studentship that I never knew existed. A truly great student understands the concepts of learning beyond their forms. He sees the universality of skill development, and thus is able to apply the same principles across various disciplines. In giving me an opportunity to study Jiu Jitsu with such depth and specificity, Professor has given me the ability to apply the same tactics to the rest of my life.
Jiu Jitsu has taught me how to learn and will continue to be the foundation upon which all I do. Other than being my parent’s son, being Professor’s student has been the greatest opportunity of my life and will continue to be the best investment I have made.
Jiu Jitsu is the vehicle, but Professor taught me how to drive.