Musings, ponderings and various observations on the intersection of BJJ/Martial arts training and the living of life. I have no inclination toward either political correctness or correct spelling. This blog, such as it is, remains fundamentally an unfiltered gush of thought ... both raw and unpolished.
Martial arts rank can be a funny thing. It is a thing that some stow much importance on - whilst others - give it little weight at all. Although it can be seen as recognition of ‘time served’ - there is so much variance between styles and what ‘time served’ actually means - that it is really difficult, if not impossible, for people to agree on any kind of standardisation. From my own perspective (holding black belt ranks in several styles) - some hold little to no meaning for me - whilst others, I do place significant value on. At the end of the day, it really comes down to how I conduct myself on the martial arts landscape and in the wider world in which I live - that actually matters. One of my favourite latin sayings ‘Acta - non verba’ cuts to the very heart of it … what we do is what counts, rather than what we say. BJJ is not an art that gives up rank easily - a BJJ black belt is something earned only by those prepared to undertake an extraordinary effort. A BJJ athlete is tested in each and every session - the lessons to be learned are countless in number - the black belt isn’t something one can hide behind (it offers little, if any, sanctuary) … but it is worthwhile, in the extreme. This year, being awarded my fifth degree BJJ Black Belt by professor Rigan Machado, was a bit of a shock. I find myself in sparse company, there being only a couple of other non-Brazilian nationals to have been awarded that rank (Bob Bass and Chris Haueter being two others in the USA). What I do recognise is this, Bob, Chris and I do all share a commonality - apart from the obvious quarter of century or more in the study and practise of the art we all love - and it is this: we are all ‘students’ at heart. We all remain intensely curious about and invested in, the un-ending evolution of BJJ - whilst still being capable of extracting great satisfaction from mining ever-deeper into the fundamental principles and underlying concepts which support the art at it’s very foundation; we all love to solve problems; we love to find connections between aspects of the art that previously seemed unconnected; we love to train, to explore and above all else - we love to learn. We got together earlier this year and although we hadn’t seen each other for quite a few years - it was as if we had sweated on the mat together only yesterday. So no matter where you find yourself on the BJJ/Ranking ladder - know this - we are all undertaking the same journey - we all share the same frustrations, the same trial, tribulations and the same sense of wonder. Rank, in most instances, just indicates how long we have journeyed to date … respect to those ahead of us … respect top those behind! JBW