One of my teacher’s tenets about relationships was this: the most important thing is how a person feels about themselves when they’re in your presence. That’s the key to relationships – the ability to make someone feel good about themselves, every time they’re around you.
It is one of the underpinnings of everything that we do here at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s part of the staff training, the instructor training…it infuses all of the work that goes on here behind the scenes. Those of you in the Expert program who train alongside the staff know this well.
My expectation is that the apple won’t fall far from the tree. In fact, that’s what we are counting on: that you, as the student, will continually take on the challenge of putting relationships first. That you will mirror this mission. And in doing so, by putting relationships first, you’ll infuse your training with much more than just what is physically present on the mat. Your martial arts training will have the chance to resonate in your life as a whole. Miss this point and you’ll miss they key to relationships elsewhere as well.
As an aside, this notion is why we don’t encourage competition. Most of you think that means we don’t like tournaments. But that doesn’t only mean tournaments: it means we don’t encourage people to try to one-up each other or undercut those around them. It’s why we we say that when you’re in the changing room, don’t be the moron that’s boasting and carrying on. We all know the type of person who has to talk loudly about how they got you in the armlock or almost had you in the choke. These pronouncements are the same insidious, underlying gestures that encourage a person not to feel better about themselves, but worse.
Using Jiu-Jitsu to build yourself up in order to make another person feel worse – this is a terrible misunderstanding of the philosophy. It’s a big error. And followed though to its natural conclusion, it ruins more than just your practice.
If you want to be a real rock star in life you have to help others feel like a rock star, too. That’s it in a nutshell. This is why I have no problem telling students or the people in my life that I love them, and I have no problem sharing these thoughts either. It is my work as a student, to stick to my teacher’s original principle. The instruction was to make others feel good about themselves when they’re in your presence, so my Jiu-Jitsu practice is now done from this place. It is done out of a sense of a lifting others up, and it’s what we’ve got to do for the people in the lives – lift one another up.