Imagine if your boss really was the hardest grinder in the company. Imagine if teachers got paid based on the quality of their teaching alone, (not by seniority or outdated credentials). Imagine if your president really was the most intelligent, pure-natured, socially aware, forward thinking person in the nation?
When I practice Jiu Jitsu, I experience something very rare and very profound. I experience a culture where nothing is given and everything is earned. For two hours a day, I live in a world of zero bullshit.
Here’s what happens when you start Jiu Jitsu:
1) Your instructor gives you a white belt
2) You wear that belt at ALL times
3) Your belt advertises your true skill level to everyone else in the room.
The belt system advances like this: White->Blue->Purple->Brown->Black. On average it takes 2 years to advance a belt. And here’s the beautiful part: you absolutely cannot buy a promotion or fast-track your way to the top. In some other martial arts you find things like group promotions and annual promotions. Not in Jiu Jitsu. You could potentially practice 20 years and never make black belt. You ONLY get promoted when your instructor sees that you have mastered the necessary skills for your level. There’s only one way to advance, Hard Fucking Work.
My Jiu Jitsu coach is a short man, but he really IS the alpha lion of the group. Simply because trains harder and longer than any of us. The first time I fought him, I remember thinking that I just might give him a run for his money…
You wear your belt. Everyone knows your true worth at a glance. We’re like video game characters with our personal attributes scrolling overhead. For me that blatant level of honesty was… refreshing.
And I can’t help but think that a dose of that honesty would be good for everyone. Especially in the work place. Especially for teachers and trainers everywhere. Especially for young males who are innately susceptible to the ‘invincibility’ delusion. Especially for everyone in the world who desperately needs a sense of worth, a sense of unadulterated pride, something real that they earned through sweat and honest self assessment.
I’ll never be proud of my height or my race or my nationality, all things gifted to me by way of the universal lottery. But the day that I earn my Blue Belt, ooh baby I’ll run that thing up a flag pole. A really tall flag pole.