Our blind spots

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[Please note that this post includes some explicit language.]

My Thai boxing instructor told me that when he recently went back home for the holidays, he trained at a friend’s dojo. After working out, his friend said that one of their former classmates had gone to Japan to train.

And my teacher said, I really dislike that guy. He has always been a jerk. He used to be a bouncer in the clubs and would knock people out for the fun of it. Just really being a jerk.”

The friend said no, that he had changed. My teacher was unconvinced and asked what had happened in Japan.

He said that when this guy went to train in Japan, his Japanese sensei told the class, “Your technique means nothing if you’re an asshole”.

It seems that this experience had a profound impact on the guy because he came back with a new outlook.

After hearing this story, I started thinking, “Uh-oh…am I still an asshole?”. And if I’m if I’m honest with myself, the truth is yes. There are parts of my personality that I still have to work on. Not just parts of my karate, but parts of myself. The training is meant to bring us forward as a whole, not in pieces.

So I want to present this to you from your teacher’s teachers. The question is – and I know this might sound odd – are you an asshole? Are you still being a jerk in your life?

Are you unforgiving of others’ mistakes or errors? Are you taking pleasure in other people’s embarrassment or humiliation?

Are you looking for ways to undermine those who you see doing well? Are you dismissive of other, conflicting points of view?

Maybe you’re not a jerk to other people anymore but maybe you’re still a jerk to yourself. Like you beat yourself up or your negative or you don’t believe in yourself. It may look a couple of different ways.

But however it shows up, the mandate is clear – we must investigate! We can’t go around with blinders on. As martial artists, we have to look at where our blind spots might be, where we might be failing to live up to the principles and promises of the training.

Once we’ve done that, then we have to eradicate those areas, those shortcomings, in order to move closer to what the masters envisioned as a true black belt practitioner. Otherwise, we are only ever halfway there.


For more about our larger project of cooperative Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training, visit the Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brooklyn BJJ) website here.

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