I want to share with you an amazing and insightful conversation I had this morning with one of my mentors in jiu jitsu and life... but first, another boost for Seana, the purple belt who is battling ovarian cancer at the retardedly early age of 26. And then, the new perspective on jiu jitsu competition, at the bottom. :)
Watch this interview with Seana last week at Toronto BJJ where Seana talks about her history in martial arts, where she grew up, her cancer and how she is staying so positive and strong throughout her fight. She earned her purple belt while going through chemotherapy!!!!
Check out the interview and please lets all help Seana Rossi submit cancer.
Please share this video, repost it, send it to other MMA athletes, forums, companies, whatever you can do to help this warrior out.
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Direct Bank Direct Transfer can be made to:
Seana Rossi, Account # 08902 010 6433480
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So this morning I was chatting with an amazing man, a 4-stripe purple who teaches BJJ, married with kids, runs his own business. I am proud to consider him a friend as well as a teacher.
He told me about his different outlook on competition these days. He started competing (in various fora, not BJJ, but including wrestling) when he was a little guy. At the state finals in wrestling (which he won) he described a very powerful match against a beastly muscleman, which he conquered by sheer out-beasting on a mental and physical level. "I have a lot of rage in me," he explained, "and that's how I used to be in competition. Violent."
I can tell you, this was a shock. He's the coolest, chillest, mellowest cat there is. Yes, he's fit and strong, yes, he wins tournaments, yes, he's defeated a blackbelt in a tournament as a purple. But I wouldn't picture 'rage' or 'violence' when I think of him even in a tournament setting.
But that's what he tells me, so I believe it. However, he says this most-recent tournament was different for him. He woke up the morning of, looked at his sleeping wife and kiddoes on the way out the door, and pondered about blessings. How full his life was, and how he already had everything he needed.
As he drove the couple hours to the tourney, he thought about how previous tournaments (and other athletic competitions through his life) were all about taking from the other guy. Taking the belt, taking the medal, taking the glory. Showing him who's boss. Winning. Beating them. Making the team look good. Dominating.
As I listened, I nodded along, thinking of my internal (or blogged) pep talks before tournaments. Like this one, and this one. Pouncing wildcats and so on. "Break her f*cking jaw if I have to" was a silent mantra for a while.
No, this time he wasn't going to take. He was going to share, to give. To share his amazing technique. To "confound" his opponents, in a spirit of love, harmony, brotherhood. (I hope he doesn't sound dumb here, because if he does that's all me. He is anything but, and this philosophy really resonated with me.)
And that's exactly what he did. He rolled into the tournament, scouted a spot, and napped. Had some coffee and breakfast, and napped again until his name and bracket were called. Genially shook hands with his opponent, absorbed his energy (instead of pushing him off the mat, as he could have) and flowed with the go. He sensed his opponent's vibe, redirected his momentum on a spiritual as well as physical level, and nailed a slick-as-ice takedown which sounded like a fireman-carry variant, transitioning into an armbar. Since he's not actually Master Po, he didn't get that armbar (though he did eventually collect his opponent's arm a la Ronda Rousey, except his opponent knew to tap BEFORE dislocation).
More importantly, his opponent bounded up from the mat all smiles and expressed sincere "ooh's" and "ahh's" about my friend's great technique. So he successfully confounded his "enemy" and shared his skill.
I know, maybe sounds all hoo-hah. But I was entranced by the idea of a competition mindset that was less about grinding your opponent's face into the dust, moistened only with his tears and blood.... and more about sharing this awesome journey through skill and application and direction and attention that is jiu jitsu...
Perhaps, as you prep for the Pan, Mundials, or whatever tournament is around the corner in your heart... consider relying less on the beast within, and choke the snot out of your opponents with LOVE.
"Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?"