Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jiujitsu as Religion

From the use of phrases like "Oh my Rickson Gracie" and "Rickson Gracie bless you" to long, heart-felt posts on how much meaning and camaraderie training BJJ has brought people, you don't have to travel far across the internet to see the juxtaposition of religion and our art. Being a practicing Christian, and having had my share of ups and downs navigating the world of the church, it concerns me.

Why? Because, like in the beginnings of many religions, I see, on the surface, gushing triumph, bonds being formed and monumental personal success and growth. In private, from personal experiences and the testimony of others, I see people working through the all too human, and all too common issues that come about when people do things with other people that might not be doing things for the most pure reasons. On a larger scale, the idea of BJJ losing its potency and incredibly unique camaraderie, like so many religions and other arts have done after becoming more commodity than personal journey, saddens me.

I've said it before, but I do not believe in doing anything solely for its own sake. The art can advance to the point where we're levitating ourselves into mount, but if that means we leave in our wake a trail of broken, scarred or disappointed souls, the loss was not worth the gain. As Roy Dean put it...

Allow the discipline to transform you.  A lot of people end up serving the discipline; they get injured, they give up their wife, they give up their job to chase the discipline.  The discipline should enhance your life, you should never serve the discipline.  And sometimes you lose perspective on that.  I have certainly stepped over that line where I’ve lost perspective and overtrained.  “Oh, this means so much.”  Where you’re crushed after a loss, you’re elated after a victory.  Hey man these are just markers, they’re milestones on your own journey.  No one else is watching.  It’s your own trip.  Enjoy it.  Craft your journey carefully and you will discover who you are.

No, I do not take this as an emergency, and I love to see the amazing transformations practice has brought about in people's (my own included) lives, but it is, I think, a bit of a warning sign...a reason to stay vigilant in the behavior of people we see around us and do our personal best to be the most honorable, responsible, caring and contentious practitioners we can be.

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