I recently read a book called Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It made me think about why I love BJJ, and the answer I came up with surprised me because the reason has existed before I even knew what BJJ was.
Through the Wormhole
Before I just spell it out, let’s go back in time. When I was really young, I received my first computer. It was a 386 or a 486. I forget which, but suffice to say that it was a dinosaur. I remember going out and getting games. Then I would try to load them, and often they wouldn’t work right away.
The reason for that lies in the fact that back in the stone ages memory was split into categories like conventional memory, extended memory, and expanded memory. Different games required different amounts of memory in the different layers.
That’s where applications like memmaker came into the picture. It allowed you to play with the distribution of memory across the different catagories.
So to play games I often had to engage in a little problem solving first. Sometimes, it got quite tricky too, but I enjoyed the process almost as much as the reward.
I simply love to figure things out, and I’m realizing now that it started back then.
Another example of this happened recently. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago.
I went down to Virginia to support some teammates at their MMA fights. Down there, I spent most of my time in the back with the team.
Now between the fights there were significant periods of time, and during that wait my coach, Mike Moses, challenged us to figure out how his knife works.
It was a switchblade but it had a concealed mechanism for bringing the blade out. Even when he demonstrated, it wasn’t clear what was being pressed.
Everyone tried to figure it out. Most tried for a few minutes then decided to focus on something else. Even I took a little break after trying for like ten minutes.
I walked away and got something to eat, but then I came back and picked up the knife again. I looked at it from every angle that I could think of, but I still couldn’t figure it out.
That process continued throughout the night. I would walk away and then come back and pick up the knife. Every time, I was in the room, my thoughts tended to drift toward figuring out the solution, and I was actually disappointed when it was revealed.
How it all Relates to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
So from those two examples, hopefully you now understand one of my underlying passions. My focus on coming up with unique solutions to common problems and understanding how things work and how to make them work better both stem from the desire to figure things out.
What Brazilian Jiu-jitsu gave me was the perfect outlet. It’s an ever-changing puzzle with so many different pieces. It forces you to bring everything you have to bear. You have to use your mind, body and spirit to excel at this art, and all are strengthened in the process.
It’s simply problem solving in its finest form.
Every concept and movement is a piece of the puzzle, but learning the individual pieces simply isn’t enough. You have to learn how the pieces interact with each other.
What makes it challenging and fascinating is that the puzzle isn’t two-dimensional. There is no one true solution. Each piece doesn’t have a clearly defined space that it must fit into.
Instead, the puzzle is multidimensional and ever-changing.
For example, one concept can be linked to many different movements to create a diverse range of techniques. The same can be said about linking movements to concepts.
Then on the next level, there is how techniques interact with each other. You have to figure out how to use them in combination to form effective attack sequences and loops.
You can’t forget to add resistance to the equation either. So there are counters, re-counters, reversals, and escapes.
It can all get quite complex, but there is a certain simplicity to it as well.
There should be no question about one thing though. Piecing it all together is a lifelong pursuit. I embrace it. Even now at brown belt, I believe that there is still so much to learn. I’ve only figured out bits and pieces so far.
It’s a good thing that I love the process.
(I had changed my mind about showing this publicly, but it just feels appropriate here.)
(This video inspired me to buy the book.)