One Obstacle In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Doesn’t Define You, Don’t Make It Bigger Than It Is

Have you ever sat back and watched someone interview a pro athlete at the start of his/her professional career? Not too long ago I watched an interview on the eve of the NFL playoffs with Kareem Hunt. For those of you who aren’t aware, Kareem is a rookie running back out of Toledo. His first touch in pro football wasn’t just any first touch. It was the first run of the season for the Kansas City Chiefs lining up against the 2017 Super Bowl Champions and potentially the best team of the past decade, the New England Patriots. No pressure, right? Alex Smith snapped the ball and gave it off to Kareem, he was met by a strong Patriots defensive front and lost the ball, then the Patriots recovered and went down the field to score. Welcome to the big leagues, kid!

Back to the interview. Coach Gruden of ESPN (at the time) was asking him about his football, the year he had, the playoffs, and if he had nerves going into his first playoff game. This kid was cool, calm, and collected as they say. He answered every single question with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and positiveness. It was great to see. Then Coach asked about the infamous fumble. Kareem laughed about it, and said it was his first touch in something that he intends to do for a long time. He wasn’t going to let this slight mishap define him. He had a supportive team behind him who encouraged him to put it in the past and leave it there.

That is exactly what he did. The Chiefs gave Kareem the ball on the very next offensive play and another 20 times in that game. Not only did he put that fumble behind him, but he went on to have one of the most successful games on debut by a rookie. He ran for 148 yards, and received 98, 246 yards in total. He scored three touchdowns and led the team to win on the road over the defending champs, 42-27.

Now you are probably sitting there thinking to yourself what the hell has a rookie running back and BJJ got in common. On the surface not a whole lot, but if you dive deeper into the above paragraphs and the interview itself you will see where this is leading. Kareem had a quote leading into the primetime game against the Pats that he repeated to himself over and over and over again in the week leading up to the game as the media coverage was building. He repeated this when he was on the flight to Foxboro, when he was in the locker rooms before taking the field, and as soon as he picked himself up off the ground after the fumble: “Don’t make it bigger then it is”.

Kareem mentioned in the interview that football was something that he intended on doing for a long time. Much like those who practice jiu-jitsu, most of us don’t intend on doing it for a year or two then finding something else. Once the bug has bitten you, many a practitioner intends on rolling until he is physically unable to do so. And then something happens. Maybe an injury, a change in financial circumstances, a relocation for work, hell even a performance plateau. The jiu-jitsu journey is long and we are undoubtedly going to have something that takes us away from the mats for a period of time. To tell you the truth, I have only been on my journey for a little under four years, and I have already experienced everything I just mentioned. I have no doubt I will again experience more in the future. It should not be these moments that we let define us but more so how we deal with these setbacks that define our journey.

If you started jiu-jitsu with the intention of making it a lifetime passion, then take Kareem`s advice: “Don’t make it bigger then it is”. Find a way to get around the current situation, keep studying the art. If it’s financial reasons you can’t make it in to the gym, speak to your coaches and see if there is something you can do to pay your dues. If you train under Classy Grappler, I feel sorry for you if it comes to this. If you have some social media skills, offer to run the club pages and take care of the website. If you are a marketing guru, offer to run some campaigns for new members. If it comes to it and you have no skills, offer to clean the mats and the gym after classes have finished for the nights. If this doesn’t work, get some mats or even a tarp, find some soft grass and get in touch with the guys and girls you trained with and see if you can have a roll or run some drills. If you want it badly enough, there is always a way to get it in. Injured? Study the art, watch videos, read books, study concepts. Burn them into your mind so when you get back onto the mats you have an arsenal of things to work on. If you are a newer player, watch, listen, and continue to learn. Ask questions and stay involved no matter how hard it is watching the rest of your team learn. Do everything in your power to keep the fire burning. Once you start rolling again, it will take care of itself.

Don’t let a small moment of what could be a long journey define you. Don’t make it bigger then it is. Stay positive, Stay humble, Stay enthusiastic.

See you on the mats!


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