Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Temporary Source of Power

Everything is temporary. So is power. You might have a really good degree and it will give you about 5 years of power. If you don't improve in that time you will plateau and eventually sink. If you are smart and get good advice, in that 5 years you will get another degree, learn a new language, learn a new skill, or somehow improve your power source and buy yourself the next 5 years. In which time you need to create another new value for yourself.

If you used to be really good looking, that automatically got you some power, but it will only last so long. Same with being the scary guy in high school. It bought you 4 years, which was high school. Once it's over, now what? Did you assume it was going to last forever? You only had a temporary source of power.

You're only as good as your last job, last degree, last skill, last book, last belt. Even oil is temporary. If you are the head of the world's biggest fuel company, to keep your job, you better be diligently working on the next fuel source when oil runs out.

Successful people always have foresight and are always working on their next source of power. If you've ever wondered why someone who went to a good school is stuck in a mid-tier job, or the high school prom queen is a poor mom with three kids, it's because of this reason. No foresight. Not realizing they only had a temporary source of power.

My favorite example is the rise of cougars. Girls into their 30s or 40s who are still single, and have never been married. What happened? They had this source of power. Their looks. So they were super picky, assuming they would always have their buying power. Then time passes and they have priced themselves out of the market, no more suitors. But now their power source is gone. They wanted a guy who was rich, well read, spoke several languages, in great shape, etc. During that time they didn't increase their value by getting richer, reading more, learning a new language, getting in great shape, or whatever else they were seeking from the other. It's like betting everything on real estate and thinking it will rise forever. It's a gamble on a finite commodity. People will always need homes, yes. But there is only so much land, and too many owners and not enough renters. Some people who saw that coming walked away with billions. I left my job in real estate with a nice savings right before the collapse because I too saw it coming.

Hence why the 1% is the 1%. 99% of us think our last source of power should give us a high paying salary.

I learned this through BJJ. BJJ is analogous to life. I am only as good as my last grip, last position, only as good as the new position I am reaching for, always looking to improve my standing, not stalling, not resting, moving forward.

BJJ is the reason why I stopped training BJJ as much. I know that doesn't make sense but if all I have going for me and invested all my time in is my last belt...well I may be a winner in BJJ, but I am a loser in the game of life. If 5 years have passed and I am in the same job, making the same wage, moved nowhere in my personal life, didn't get any new degrees, didn't learn a new language, learn to program, learn accounting, learn to rock climb, learn to swim. If all I did in that time is get some new belts, I've got other problems.

It's a weird sickness I see in martial arts. Thinking that your art will give you some infinite new power. It's not only temporary, but it's also false power. Because the only people who will care about it are others who do it. It's similar to the effects of the online game World of Warcraft. Both activities reward you on hours played, both have a unique community and culture that is immersive, and both are misunderstood by the rest of society. I would go so far as to say, BJJ in a way to some people is like real life role playing. I have a friend who's lost their job from playing too much World of Warcraft. I also know people who have lost their job training too much BJJ. That's when they may try to work somehow for the school and be all the envy of all the members of their guild. I mean school.

Now the exceptions are the people who do it for a living. If that's your goal...wait thats the key. Goal. That's their goal so they improve. A lot of people train without a goal, a lot of people don't want to do it for a living. They want to use BJJ as something that distracts them for life. If you do BJJ as a hobby and still progress in all other areas of your life, then that is the actual goal of the art. I just happen to know too many people who don't. Too many people who are flat broke but are stoked they got to tap someone tough. I know one guy who is in their late 20s, always in school but never managing to get a degree because he trains so much. Lives off the money from his parents, has to ride his bike everywhere or get a ride. Never had a girlfriend or a job. His life is about BJJ and has been for the past 5 years. He is also terrible at BJJ but it's all he cares about. He could meet the CEO of Facebook and will ask him if he trains BJJ because to him that's all he thinks people value. There's websites and magazines dedicated to the jiu jitsu life, glamorizing being poor and almost homeless but "doing what you love all the time." I see no glamour in this. That's like how Hollywood used to glamorize the lives of hobos. Free, independent wisemen who went anywhere the trains took them. I could see the point of it all if they said, this will be my life. I will make a living off of this, or I want to be world champion. Or something. But most people I know have no goal. Some may say, getting their black belt is their goal. I guess that's something. But a lot of people will say they don't even care about belts. They have no goal. In life, in BJJ, at work, personally, romantically. Why invest so much time with something that has no goal. That has no end game? You don't just lack an inner game, you no longer require it at that point.

I still train, but BJJ isn't my life. It enhances my life. It helps me realize why I need to constantly improve my position, learn new skills, gain new power before the last one runs out. I no longer need to roll to practice Jiu Jitsu. I just need to live my life and I am practicing it. Whenever I realize something is temporary and I act to improve upon it, I am practicing my art. That's jiu jitsu.

You get a grip, that buys you 2 seconds to get your next grip. You hip escape, that buys you a moment to swim for an underhook. You get the underhook, that buys you 5 seconds to escape out the back door. You get over/under control. That buys you a few more seconds to get the hook. The hook gives you a temporary source of power to get your grips on the neck. The grips on the neck gives you the chance to finish.

Before you say, what about this guy, what about that guy, what about someone like Renzo! I will say those people, like Renzo not only became a black belt, they became a champion, a professional fighter, a husband, a father, a business man, an entrepreneur with a huge affiliation and franchises, learned English, became a coach, learned politics, learned boxing, learned wrestling, learned judo, learned how to teach, learned to be a leader, etc. Someone like him may tell someone, hey stop obsessing about this art and go find a job.

After I left my academy, several of the people have been asking me and each other, why would anyone quit BJJ? Why did you quit? That's stupid. Why would you not train. That makes no sense.Then in the next sentence they will go on to say, man I don't even know why I train BJJ so much. It makes no sense. Screw BJJ.

It's a balancing act. It's a beautiful complex art that deserves time to be mastered. But you need to train enough for it to enhance your life, and if you do it will give you many benefits. The trick is not to train so much it distracts your life.


  1. Awesome post, thanks!

  2. wow that just completely changed how i see bjj it so beyond going to class learn a technique then roll after class and go home you just gave me a light moment thx

  3. thank you. if you liked it a lot please keep following the blog, and follow me on facebook and twitter.!/allouteffort

  4. Honestly, you sound quite bitter. Although somewhat true, I see a person with much envy. Those who can do, those who can't and wish they can blog about it.

  5. I'm probably a lot of things, more than just bitter, probably worse things than that. But I do appreciate that though you judged me as such, you did see some truth in the material I have presented. So in the end I hope my material can stand on its own.

  6. I hear what you say about the pointlessness of it all. It is a passion after all. But there is a good goal built into passions which often are overlooked, namely mating, raising a family, preserving the race and all that. Surely there is a good goal built in here too.

  7. Oh I never said it was pointless, but a lot of people train aimlessly or pointlessly without a goal. So if you were to compare it to dating lets say, its to date to just date, not dating to get married. Some would say you are a pimp, a psychiatrist may say you are shallow.



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