Today was one of those days where I could have easily convinced myself to not come to class. After a rather long back to school night for my son, we barely got home in time for me to throw my stuff into a gym bag and dash off to class. I already knew going into class that I would be tired and distracted…and I was. I felt like nothing was really clicking for me tonight, with the exception of a few moments here and there during sparring. So, why do I do it? Interestingly, the head coach asked a related question to the entire class. I believe the way he put it was to ask us if we are coming to class because we want to have a fun time wrestling with other grown men, or are we coming to class to get better at jiu jitsu? Of course, it’s probably a little bit of both for most of us. However, I don’t think either of them are really the ultimate reason. Yes, sometimes, jiu jitsu is fun. It’s mainly fun when you’re winning against someone you consider to be a worthy opponent. And yes, I want to get better at jiu jitsu. But this points to a more fundamental question. Why do I want to get better at jiu jitsu? In particular, why do I force myself to go to class even when I’m tired or distracted? For me, the answer comes down to the fact that I have always thought of myself first and foremost as a martial artist. This is a fundamental part of my identity that has been cultivated since the age of seven. And yet, despite all my other martial arts experience, I’m just a beginner at jiu jitsu, and regularly get smashed by people with only a few more years experience than me. There is something profoundly unsettling about the fact that I don’t have magical powers to defeat 50 attackers with a single “death touch” like you see in the movies. On a conscious level, I know it is a fantasy. And yet, I still have a belief that if I continue to train, I can one day be more invincible than Bruce Lee. Until then, I will continue to feel “vulnerable” to some extent. It’s silly, but there it is.

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