A Profound Take On The Jiu-Jitsu Journey

Source: Facebook, Jim Kearns

The further I’ve gone and the closer I’ve become to black belt, the more I realize how little I know and how much better I need to be at things. — Chris Roach

One of the wonderful things about jiu-jitsu is that you can sometimes meet awesome people.  About 4 and a half years ago I met a brown belt named Chris Roach who was visiting Cleveland from upstate New York for work.  Over the years Chris and I have gotten to train a handful of times and keep in touch, and he will be receiving his black belt soon.

As a lead up to his black belt ceremony, one of Chris’ friends did an interview with him and has released part of that interview on Facebook.  It is one of the most profound videos about jiu-jitsu I’ve watched in a while:

Had an opportunity to sit down with Chris Roach yesterday to talk about his upcoming promotion to black belt. Here's just a little bit from the interview. I came away from this realizing Chris has the perfect balance between humility and confident competence. Full black belt video to follow AND full interview too! #releasethetapes

Posted by Jim Kearns on Monday, June 18, 2018

My takeaway from this video is that the process is constant.  There is no destination.

The goal of many jiu-jitsu practitioners is to wrap a black belt with a red bar around their waist and look out on the sea that is the mat with satisfaction knowing that they’ve arrived.  There’s something somewhat final about receiving a black belt in the minds of many lower belts. The truth is that it’s a constant process.

Chris’ interview highlights the fact that if we are truly realistic with ourselves, we can never consider any skill to be mastered.  There’s always area for improvement; there’s always time that can be invested in skill development.

There’s a quote from Bruce Lee “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”  What about the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks 10,000 times? Or who has practiced one kick 100,000 times? This is the condition to which Chris is referring.  Jiu-jitsu is vast, infinite. There are so many different combinations, permutations, strategies and possibilities.

Knowing this can be disheartening.  I will never master this. I will never be done learning.  I can never master this. I can never be done learning… But it’s also a bit of a relief.  We’re all on a journey. I may be a few steps ahead of you on the journey, you may be a few steps ahead of the other guy, but ultimately the end will never be in sight, and the process of learning is just about enjoying the journey. Those of us who are great competitors or who have a deep, innate understanding of the art are on the same journey; we just might move a bit faster, but there’s no end in sight, either.  I guess that makes it all a bit more palatable on days that might be frustrating.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here