That was the question Saulo posed to us toward the end of the seminar. If you met a stranger, and they asked you what jiu jitsu was, what would you tell them?
I have thought about this question since, because to be honest it appears to be a simple answer. It means a lot of things to me, at least. Throughout the years it has been a number of things for me: a weight loss tool, self defense system, a way to meet new people and a subject that have given me tons to write about.
I think I have finally come up with an answer that is pretty succinct. Jiu jitsu is a martial art that not only can make you more physically fit, but also has the potential to make you a better human being.
There is no mysticism, no BS when it comes to what works and what doesn’t in jiu jitsu. The sport/martial art uses physical, concrete truths to achieve particular ends. The physics of gravity, the principles of leverage and an rudimentary understanding of biology and the human anatomy are only required to explain why techniques work.
Saying that, there is also relatively little you can hide about who you are once on the mat. You can call yourself as patient as a buddha sleeping in a lotus flower for all anyone cares, but your true emotions and behavior become evident once you train. It takes a strong person to understand and admit faults in their personality. What’s great about jiu jitsu however, is there are plenty of opportunities to work on those faults, and ultimately make you that better human being.
Think of what virtues you could potentially practice, if you are open to it: patience in the 8 to 10 years working for a black belt, humility in getting beat by those higher ranked than you, determination in the vowing to succeed during those low moments when you feel in a rut, compassion when hearing the frustration of your teammates, camaraderie with said teammates during tournaments and even for people across the world whom you meet through tournaments blogs, etc. Not to mention learning how to be a gracious winner and a graceful loser, seeing your losses as opportunities to improve. And last but not least, courage through competition when you have to face your fears and reservations and step on the mat anyway- not with an entire team or even a partner. Just you and all the preparation you put in for that moment.
So, for me, that is what jiu jitsu is: an opportunity to become more fit physically and to become a better person all around, if you allow it to happen.