As students, we often develop very powerful relationships in the dojo. But over time, it’s easy to let something other than the martial arts – like drinking beers or eating pizza (as in, “let’s just grab some peetzer and beerz!”) – become the cornerstone of our connections. The bond goes from being productive to destructive, because we no longer take a stand for each other in the same way we once did.
Our fundamental interactions aren’t about the thing that brought us together anymore. They’re more about what we do besides the martial arts. And if you’re like me, it’s just a short step from there to commiserating – we talk about what’s wrong with our lives, with our training partners, with the dojo.
It’s because we begin to see one another differently, and we start to serve one another in a different way.
At the bottom of this concern is sustainability. The fundamental question is, “As we pursue black belt and beyond, how do we sustain these relationships in a way that helps everyone? How do we keep them as effective connections, support, inspiration in our lives?”. To answer it, we have to consider the nature of our relationships with our classmates. It is one lens in which to view ourselves, and a way to measure the sustainability of practice and progress.
As fellow practitioners, we need to take a stand for the best part of one another. You have other friends in your life for drinking beer and eating pizza. It’s fine to have social activities and connections like that, but we can’t confuse them with the ones that are based on the martial arts. The people we train with are there to help us fulfill something very specific, very important.
So no – we don’t need to eliminate those other relationships. Instead let’s just recognize what we need to be able to sustain each others practice. Inevitably, the going gets tough. We can run into trouble when we discover too late that we’re missing the support we need.
But by preserving these connections early, we put down roots we can count on. We have a reliable source of help, of counsel, so we can continue to do the thing that brings us so much benefit.
For more about the cooperative training model, visit us at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu anytime.