Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Body and The Mind

As I watched for the umpteenth time the graceful bodies grappling, each struggling for dominance in a passionate dance of power and will, I could not help but admire it all; the sweat, the blood, the love and addiction that is each man's jiu jitsu. These men, all of them strong and able-bodied, seemed to do so well against one another. Regardless of skill, their inherent drive to be the better opponent, to be the victor, to demonstrate their ability, provided each man with a certain vigor that transformed each roll from a game to a contest.
Over the past several weeks I have felt as though my own game was going nowhere. I felt that I was missing something, some understanding or key piece of information that would fix all of my problems. I was expecting the answer to emerge from my game; I needed to properly understand some principle of jiu jitsu in order to pull out all the stops. However, while watching these men roll tonight, it clicked. It is not a physical dilemma, but a mental one. Several months ago I identified a lack of aggression in my game. There was no fierceness, no drive, no reason to win. But the solution was not simply to be more aggressive.
The mind is responsible for many of our greatest feats, though we often overlook it and thank our bodies for performing well instead. Our mentality has a great deal to do with the level of our accomplishments; hopelessness produces inadequacy, indifference produces mediocrity, and ample faith produces greatness.
The best example I can give is that of climbing. Climbing involves a certain amount of physical commitment but is very much a mental sport. Sometimes the only difference between reaching a hold and failure is your state of mind. We always called it "psyching up" when I was growing up, that small moment of time where you tell yourself you've got it, take a deep breath, and heave your body towards that same hold you failed to reach seven times before.

Most times we let our bodies take complete responsibility for their own performance. The more I think on it and the more I experiment with my own frame of mind, the more I find that this is wrong. Our bodies are only capable of so much by themselves. After a certain point, they need help to reach their greatest potential.

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