Who inspires you?

Bryan
May, 2024

Some things aren’t easily explained. Art, for example. I once heard that art “lifts our spirits because it is a reflection of the divine.” That may define what art “does,” or the effect it may have on the observer, but me trying to explain what art actually is would be impossible for me (and I can live with that). A favorite Zen parable that often comes to mind is the following. A monk is visiting another monk at a monastery, and at one point they’re both crossing a river on a bridge. At one point the visitor asks, “How deep is the river?” Without saying a word, the other monk threw the visitor over the bridge. How does all of this relate to jiu jitsu? More on this later.

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Can you think of a time when you found yourself in the presence of a real professional – someone who obviously is an expert? Perhaps it was a mechanic, a painter, or someone in the medical field. Maybe someone who embodied the following message, “You don’t pay me for what I do….you pay me for what I know.”

Aside from the reason you needed their services, were you inspired by that person? Were you impressed or even slightly envious of their ability to make a difficult task look easy, even when deep down you knew it wasn’t? Or maybe it was a combination of all of the above? Or were you so shaken to the core in a positive way, that, if you had to explain your experience to a friend, much like the visiting monk who was tossed into the water, you simply had to encourage someone to experience their expertise for themselves?

Whenever I roll with one of our instructors, inevitably I’m exhausted afterwards. Not just physically, but always mentally (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)! Partly as a result, in the evening after a given class, my wife will catch me with my “Thousand yard stare,” where I’m staring out into nowhere, half smiling yet speechless as to my experience with the black belt in question. I’ve had many, many sparring sessions with my instructors, and inevitably afterwards I’m shaking my head in amazement as to how easily they counter my attacks like a cat playing with their favorite toy. While I’m often smiling and grimacing at the same time, much like shown in the picture below, we always end up laughing as well!

Here’s my offer, and I’m quite serious to any new student who enrolls at our gym: If you have a chance to roll with one of our black belt instructors, and if you’re not completely impressed with your experience, similar to what I described above, just ask for “Gaga” and your next coffee is on me.

Go ahead, you know you want to!