|Rafael Mendes and Rubens Charles "Cobrinha" Maciel locked in a complex guard position|
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
Martial arts was created to help us understand the tough situations we find ourselves in
There are so many ideas from martial arts that I find to be transferable to any situation. To think martial arts is only about fighting or cheap parlor tricks is a mistake, and if you train martial arts purely for those aspects you're leaving a lot on the table you can benefit from. Maybe because we compartmentalize and don't transfer knowledge well (here's martial arts, here's everything else), maybe it's the Puritanical foundation of American culture where we take everything literally and at face value (a punch just represents a punch, what else could it mean), and it's why we need a good bonk or two to the head through fighting to realize martial arts is so much more than physical conflict.
Sadly I have met few modern teachers of any martial art who have been able to accurately convey this message, and my goal is to remedy that. Nothing more ironic than to be a black belt on the mats and a white belt in life (or the board room).
One of the pursuits of martial arts is of insight. It's why we practice a move until we get into a trance, it's why we meditate, it's why we test our limits, it's why we fight.
The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing or idea. Martial arts is a system to give us insight into the universe and of ourselves.
I've been studying martial arts (and when I say study I literally mean study, reading everything I can on the subject) since I was six. I've tried every martial art I could get my hands on. My goal wasn't to become the greatest fighter, but to have a rudimentary understanding of the framework of any specific martial art and deduce universal patterns. I am no expert, but in a short amount of time I understood the principles of the moves and the principles of the art. The art that I found to be the most complex to understand was and still is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). I started writing about MMA in 2003 and writing about my own BJJ journey starting from 2006 and I have yet to stop.
Like warfare, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is based around territory
All strategy is really based around territory, gaining key pieces, and accumulation. Unlike other martial arts that valued one strike one kill; BJJ focused on acquiring more of your opponent's land until they had no recourse left but to submit. Occasionally there are Hail Mary moves just like Hail Mary throws in football that can win you the match, but if your life is on the line, you stick to the fundamentals.
Unlike a strategy board game, BJJ is a physical game and the board is the body of your opponent. You want to first gain control of your opponent's legs (pass), then their hips (stabilize), then their stomach (side control), their chest (mount), their arms, until you worked your way up from bottom to top until all you have left is their neck, at which point, you go in for the finish. All the while your opponent is resisting you like hell.
Every time I train, it's a constant reminder about how I should live my life. That you have to plan and use proper tactics and strategy, then you have to fight like hell for the things you want. It's about slow accumulation -- rush and get too greedy and you make poor decisions and mistakes. Much like weight loss, it's a game of strategy not a race. You don't go backwards in a race, and in that way nothing in life is like a race.
Source: Must Triumph
Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to Inner BJJ on Facebook and Twitter.