Training is the Reward
Every time I get grouchy about training jiu jitsu I have to remind myself that just a few years ago, I knew way less technique and was training in way worse conditions. It’s the bad experiences of the past that have forced me to think about how I may make training great for the right here, right now.
As we approach the halfway point of 2023, a lot of things have gone well, some things have gone terribly, and a small percentage of things have triggered existential crises. I trained with some really, really good people this year who came through the gym to visit, and it made me feel humbled and motivated to work even harder to become better. I am trying to communicate more with people and form connections — to remind myself that making friends will be easier with more effort on my part, and I can’t just sit by myself in the corner and not talk to anyone. I struggled the earlier part of this year with mental remnants of my past gym fiascos, and still think about the toxicity from time to time, but I do so a little less and with a bit more calculated intention. I struggled with the impulse to get on social media to draw attention to myself, but ultimately am deciding against it because I know there are better uses of my mental energy, for sure.
One of my greatest fears is aging, and that I will one day realize that doing jiu jitsu is no longer a good idea, and that I’m then relegated to other activities in which I can’t do the one thing that I love. It seems weird that as you age, there’s a chance that you become more and more cynical about the world around you. There are times that I both simultaneously demand more of the world, yet I don’t expect much of it. And I’ve observed that as you move up in age, some people begin to demand more and more from their experiences, as if repeated exposures have dulled their senses to the powerful nature of living.
It’s with this sentiment that I remind myself that training is the reward. It’s a reward when you invent a new game for people to play in class, and everyone ends up sweaty while having tons of fun. It’s a reward to be able to talk about something with someone that isn’t about work. It’s a reward when you get to fulfill your nine-year-old fantasy of having beautiful notebooks filled with neat handwriting, like the Amelia Notebook series that you enjoyed in the past.
What this month of soul-searching has given me is a sense of appreciation for what a decent attitude can do for my jiu jitsu experience. To know that I can find gratification within the confines of the academy, to at least know that I can start from that place of happiness, is a great gift. I’ve definitely had my moments this year where I didn’t really believe that I could enjoy jiu jitsu (yes, very dramatic), but I think that overall, it feels good to be embracing this passion, and embracing (sometimes very aggressively) the other people who have grown to love it, too.
In the place that I live now, I wake up to the sound of birds outside my window. Traffic is rare out front, though because it is the city, there are still the bouts of explosive road rage (2 and a half incidents and counting). Still, it’s afforded me a place to reflect and look inside of why I want to keep trying and working to find new opportunities for me to grow, why I go to training even if I rather stay home and play Zelda, and why continuing to care is worth it for me. Because the training is hard, the training is tough, and yet, the training is the reward.