Excelling in adversity


by Dan

life 🌴|

People training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at MassBJJ Arlington

It was 95 degrees ☀️ out, 11am on a humid Saturday. It was the 5th 8 minute round of rolling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sparring) and I had just battled with George, an incredibly nice brown belt out-sizing and skilling me by a large margin, and Carlos, a young purple belt with the athleticism of a pro athlete. I lying against the wall, dehydrated and beat 💀.

As the buzzer rang to start the next round, I found myself in conversation with Carlos about climate change and fishing 🎣. He was telling me some of the small steps he had taken to try and do his part, but how nervous he was about the...

"CARLOS, no rounds off. If he [me/dan] wants to take a round off that is fine, but you are working."

Mike, owner and black belt of MassBJJ Arlington, heard us chatting overtime during his own roll and snapped at Carlos. At the end of the class, Mike said it is the final rounds when we are exhausted that are the ones which will shape us into black belts.

I understood the classic truth in those words, I had heard in my football days of 'its the 4th quarter where you have to dig deeper' and I am sure many other times I am forgetting. But all I could think of was "why didn't Mike yell at me?" It is not that he does not care that I get better, he has proven time and time again he wants the best for all his students, showing them special attention or giving extra training. But Carlos practically lives at the gym and has formed a bond that few form between a student/teacher. Loving respectful discipline.

So where does that leave me? Who is going to tell me to get off my butt and keep pushing through when times are hard? When that little voice in my head says 'I hope Carlos keeps talking so I can rest a little longer?' how do I stop it?

Sometimes it is up to our own selves to be the voice of Mike. There are things in life we avoid, many times subconciously, even though we KNOW they should be done. Start by recognizing behavioural patterns. Be mindful 🧠 of the times I am shying away from adversity for the gentle arms of comfort. Do a quick mental audit my days, work, and jiu jitsu sessions after they happen and ask 'What could I have done better?' Or take advantage of obvious signs and do better the next time - i.e. Mike calling us out.

I am no David Goggins, but I aspire to do my best in pushing back against my resilient mind when discomfort is on the line. It is a lifelong battle, but one that is much greater and more widely applicable than a roll or two of jiu jitsu. And today, I am growing by recognizing this instance where I was lackadaisical and knowing that next time, none of those 40 minutes of brutal training will be wasted.

"Now remember, things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is."

Josie Wales