Yesterday afternoon, I was training with my friend Kerry to help him prepare for his upcoming Jiu-Jitsu tournament. (If you’re unfamiliar with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it’s a martial art where mostly sane, reasonable people try to break each others limbs or choke one another to death… ok, maybe not to death, but certainly hold the choke long enough for them to pass out. Think wrestling with submission.)
During our session, he landed an elbow square on my schnoz. Completely unintentional (though, I did knee him in the head a couple of times during our training a few days back… hmmm) – no, I know it was unintentional – but it certainly rang my bell for a second. Thankfully, I have a huge Jewish nose that is solid bone and, while it served as a definite wake-up call, it was not enough to deter my concentration. (The picture shows the monumental collateral damage – as Monty Python would call it, “tis but a flesh wound.”) Kerry, however, stopped. He could feel the force of the impact and paused to ask if I was okay.
Like most Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, we may be a little bit nuts, but at our core, we’re good people with big hearts and it is never our intent to hurt anyone. Knowing that his elbow may have done damage, he took assessment. Instinctually, I did exactly the same thing after popping him with my knees. After our training, Kerry and I chatted about our respective reactions to being hit. He’s been training for a long time and has been knocked around pretty good. I’ve been training since 2000 and there’s little doubt I have suffered numerous concussions. What’s interesting is that neither Kerry nor I thought twice about being hit. The reason? We’d been hit before, knew what it felt like, and kept going.
Conversely I remember training with a Secret Service agent back in ~ 2001. I was happy to see him there as I strongly believe that if one works in a career where physical combat is a possibility, knowing Jiu-Jitsu is not optional, it’s mandatory. He had never trained before but, like many who come through our doors, his balls were much larger than his abilities and he clearly lacked humility. As we began sparring, he went, well… pretty much loco. This is not unusual. Most folks who are new to the sport do exactly that and get their asses handed to them.
Needless to say, he was completely out of control. During our scuffle, I landed a completely unintentional elbow flush to his nose. (Basically, as I was turning to my right while lying on my back, he came diving in and his nose and my elbow met at a fairly high rate of speed.) Immediately, he recoiled, stood up, turned his back to me, and then I saw it… a stream of blood splashing off the mat and trickling its way towards me.
Like the little girl I am, I screamed and ran away crying. Ok, not really, but he did. Ok, not the screaming and crying, but that was the last we ever saw of him. He never attended another class. Was his ego shattered? Was he now scared? Was Jiu-Jitsu harder than he imagined? Who knows…
What I do know is that you have the choice of your life reflecting a Timex or a Rolex. I’m going to show my age here, but do you remember Timex’s slogan? “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Do you know Rolex’s slogan? “Wear this expensive piece of shit to prove to the world that you have more money than common sense.”
And, do you know what it costs to fix a Timex when it breaks? No, of course you don’t because you can just buy a new one for the same cost. And, what does it cost to fix a Rolex? A lot… that dainty, fragile little piece of art is precious, temperamental and needs specialized care and maintenance.
The bottom line is that, in life, you’re going to get hit… a LOT. And, every time you get hit, you inevitably build your resilience and that feeling, whatever you call it, becomes significantly less impactful. Subsequently, you’re able to brush it off without second thought.
This degree of comfort ONLY happens when you get on the mat, whatever your mat might be, and play full out.
In the end, whether you choose to be a Timex or a Rolex is up to you. Know, however, that the degree of satisfaction, fulfillment, and achievement you realize will be a direct reflection of that choice. Choose wisely my friends.