Don’t Expect Minnows to be Sharks

Jiu Jitsu is often described by white belts as swimming with sharks, it is a helpless fight for your life feeling.

I am going to use the analogy of swimming today to help not only white belts understand the journey but more for upper belts to remember the beginning. I am not a great swimmer, although I can hop in and doggy paddle with the best of them. I remember as a kid one of my friend’s mom almost jumped in the pool to save me. When I got to the edge she realized I wasn’t drowning that was my version of swimming. So although I am not a great swimmer here goes the analogy.

A day one white belt does not know how to swim, they are going to flail and move violently trying to keep their head above water. Often times the flailing results in stray knees and elbows to people’s domes. I have often heard upper belts yell at the white belt to “use technique!” The problem is the white belt has no technique, they are fighting for their lives. I have also witnessed upper belts try to flail and out doggy paddle the new white belt, especially when the white belt is athletic and strong which poses a threat. This threat posed to the upper belt brings them back to crazy. Instead the upper belt should show the white belt by their actions on how to swim. Don’t get into a doggy paddle fight with a doggy paddler, show them how to float, how to back stroke, and maybe even butterfly. These white belts can then transition their natural skills into learning how to swim.

I remember Giva telling me one day, watch the white belts and learn from them. They move with no trained movements, they move with natural reactions to situations that might open your eyes to a new way of doing things. In a Jiu Jitsu Academy everyone serves their purpose and contributes an important piece to the team. Make sure not to alienate the minnows trying to swim, those minnows are going to grow into sharks one day that will help push you to be the best you. If you drown the minnows all the sharks will eventually die off.

Today is a good day, hope you all have a blessed one!

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