When we were younger, elder loved ones were a constant guidance system that always encouraged our best actions. Whether a parent, a
teacher, or coach, we were fortunate to have those wiser and more experienced than ourselves invest in our lives in a way that assured we would continue to grow.
“Eat your vegetables.”
“Do your homework.”
“Don’t cut corners on warm-up laps.”
All of these directed us down a path that led to our success.
When you get older and leave the nest, those daily reminders just aren’t there. No one tells me to eat my salad. No one is watching when I do my morning yoga. No one sees whether I pick up a book or turn on the TV. For many adults, you become your sole form of accountability and our natural tendency to lie to ourselves stunts our progress.
This is the importance of community. By becoming members of a group whose whole is greater than its parts, each individual rests within a support system of mutual growth and accountability. This is the direction and guidance that allows so many Jiu Jitsu students to foster the personal growth that civilian life never gave them. Between fellow students, coaches and professors, each of us now has several guiding hands that shape us into better versions of ourselves.
Jiu Jitsu becomes a reason to eat right, get in better shape, and exercise mental calm in the face of physical adversity. Our role models in the academy give us something at which to aspire, and remind us of the direction we wish to take our own lives. We hold ourselves to a higher standard because our instructors do it for us. We see the faith they have in ourselves, and that faith becomes our own.
As a member of a community, we grow for our own sake, but also for the sake of all those around us. We recognize that we need to improve to be a better assistant in the growth of our peers. When we become better they become better. Everything is always easier when done for someone outside yourself. In taking root within this extended family, we move from a “me” worldview to an “us” worldview. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The world does not care if you grow. No one cares if you read today. No one asks if you worked out. No one cares what you ate before bed. This is not a pessimistic account of current affairs. This is simply the way life is. Each of us fights such a hard battle in our own lives that our attention is largely focused on ourselves or immediate family. We simply pay attention to that which is most pertinent in our lives, and we cannot afford to direct that attention elsewhere.
This is the importance of community, and this is what Jiu Jitsu gives the individual. Becoming a member of a Jiu Jitsu school is inheriting a family of on-lookers who through varying forms hold us accountable to become better versions of ourselves. Life is not an individual sport. We only come to realize this when fortune places us within a community of those who genuinely hope for and work toward our successes.
As the old African proverb teaches,
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”