During a recent discussion regarding the use of words to insult or denigrate folks that are different from us, the word hobbyist was used.
Of course there is a distinction between someone who is a professional, or at least approaches whatever they are doing in a professional manner versus someone who is lackadaisical.
I’m not sure if I qualify, (in the opinion of others), as a professional as I’m confused by the criteria used to measure professional versus non-professional. I will say this to describe myself; I’m an unapologetic enthusiast. I love everything about this endeavor, and I want to do it all. So today I did some movement drills with a Bowie knife, and then shot some .44 mag out of a Single Action Revolver. I don’t know if shooting 240 gr 44 mag ammo that’s traveling at eleventy-billion feet per second will in some way benefit my fighting skills. Nor do I know if working on some movement patterns I learned in a class on big blades will ever save my life from a violent criminal actor. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’ve been employed as an armed professional for 2/3’s of my adult life. Not only has this been my professional life, it’s also been my personal life. I have trained on my own time, and dime because this has also been my hobby. I supposed the distinction between professional, and hobbyist for me has been when I’m on someone else’s time and dime to do it versus when I’m doing it on my time and dime.
Regardless of whether I’m a pro or a Joe, more than any other reason, I do it because it makes me happy. Because it’s fun. Because America. Because making everything about death, drudgery, and morbid masturbatory fetishization is a buzz kill.
Also, because America. Did I mention that already? Because it needs to be mentioned often. Because life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness. We need more people doing this stuff, not less. Encourage folks. Don’t belittle them. There very real threats to our rights at work 24/7/365, and anything, (even name calling), that divides us makes us easier to conquer. If that happens it won’t matter who is a pro and who is a hobbyist now will it?
This endeavor is infinite. Which can be frustrating since we can’t quantify infinity. How do we measure something when we don’t know the end point? There is no way of even knowing if we are at infinities half way point. We can only keep pressing onward.
Realizing this journey is infinite presents one of the problems with setting goals that are too rigid. As we evolve we get a better idea of what we can do. As we get a better idea of what we can do we might realize our goals aren’t ambitious enough. What we once thought was going to take years might only take months or even days. We learn more about ourselves, and our art as we grow, and as a result we learn we might be far more capable than we thought. We moved our goal post.
Set goals, and work towards them while knowing we will never reach the end. Also while knowing, goals in this game are just guides that change as we evolve.
Yes, there’s a sport attached. MMA, and Jiu-Jitsu competitions are a convenient testing environment where the worst that happens is we tap out or get injured if we fail. Where else are we supposed to test ourselves? Bar fights? Fights in the prison yard? C’mon man, give it a rest. You’re street. I dig it but there’s more to it than that.
Yes, there’s a self-defense aspect. Actually fighting, dealing with violent criminal offenders. Yes you need to know how to throw punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and headbutts. You also need to know how to shut those down. Jiu-Jitsu also includes defense against impact, and edges weapons as well as firearms, and for the most part it always has. I get it. Sport is more fun, it’s more creative, and an all around healthy endeavor. Plus, nobody likes to think about the negative side of this stuff which is dealing with a violent criminal assault. However, we have to think about it because that’s also Jiu-Jitsu.
Then there is the art aspect. The side of this endeavor that makes us a better human. Jiu-Jitsu can change people for the better. It can open minds, build relationships, and expand our understanding of the world around us. Sometimes, maybe most of the time we build this without our conscious effort as a result of doing the work. Jiu-Jitsu isn’t easy, nor should it be. It builds toughness the only way possible. By burning us into the ground then building us back up again. We do our part by consistently showing up, gut-checking ourselves, and doing the work. Jiu-Jitsu does it’s part by grinding away our ego which removes a host of problems that limit our ability to show our best selves to those around us.
We have to rise above the arguments of sport versus street within Jiu-Jitsu. Coach Chris Haueter has been preaching the truth of Jiu-Jitsu for a very long time; Think street, train sport, practice the art. We need every aspect to be a complete Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. Jiu-Jitsu is a complete martial art if we’ll let it be.
A frequent topic of discussion is body composition transformation. A lot of folks want to change the way they look. This usually leads to a conversation about various exercise programs or dietary changes. Those things will work but it will feel like work. There a better way. Engage in an activity that requires the support of good nutrition and exercise.
I always recommend joining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, Judo or MMA gym rather than a globo type gym. I have guys in my gym, SBG Illinois, that have lost 30-40 pounds in a few months without doing any weight loss specific activity. And? We’ve only been open since November…
Here’s the thing, Jiu-Jitsu isn’t exercise it’s an activity. However, it’s an activity that promotes a healthy approach to eating and exercise. Folks start drinking more water, eating more nutritious food, doing S&C work that is reasonable, as well as mobility work. Gals and guys start thinking about what they’re eating and drinking and how it affects their performance on the mat. We choose nutritious foods because we know we’re going to be rolling in a few hours. We want to have a great experience, and a poor performance due to poor food choices is a no-go. This is a much more sustainable form of motivation.
Exercise for the sake of weight loss quickly becomes drudgery. Exercise for the purpose of helping us do an activity we love at a higher level is soon viewed as a necessity. Body composition adjusts to reflect this effort. People start to feel and perform better. All without it ever feeling like work, because it’s not.
One of the first of many cool sayings I heard as a young man in the fight game was; hit first, hit fast, hit last. I’ve heard this attributed to a number of folks so I really don’t know who I should say I’m quoting. Teddy Atlas? Cus D’Amato? Salim Assili? This would seem to be one of those universal truths that apply to any fighting art. Bottom line, as one that was brand new to the game this was an important lesson for me to learn.
It would seem self-evident but sometimes we need an outside voice to give us permission to make the first move in defense of life and limb. Putting my hands on someone without waiting for them to put their hands on me was a foreign concept. Most of us have been taught by family, friends, and society to avoid throwing the first punch. The person throwing the first punch is always the aggressor therefore, wrong. At this point I realize how wrong I was to accept this as true back then, and after having witnessed a few violent confrontations I can assure you I have no issue throwing the first punch. Think about it this way, how many hits can you take before you’re unconscious? Once unconscious you can no longer defend yourself or your loved ones. Don’t let that happen. You need to act, and act right now. You can solve the legal challenges after the fact, with the help of competent counsel but right now, in the moment when your gut is screaming that something just isn’t right? You gotta get it on before he makes his move.
Excellent analysis from Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor. If you aren’t following his blog, and social media page, you should be.
Barry Fixler, former Marine and Viet Nam veteran, owns a jewelry store in New York State. On Valentine’s Day 2005, a couple of criminals decided to relieve him of his merchandise. It didn’t turn out the way they planned. We are fortunate that much of the incident was captured on video. There are numerous lessons […]
One of the things I struggle with is imposter syndrome. That nagging feeling that I’m not really deserving of any accolades, or recognition I might receive. I worry that I’m deep in Dunning-Kruger and as a result don’t know enough to know how much I don’t know.
I don’t know how to stop those thoughts from running through my head. All I know is I train like a madman to make sure I’ve done everything I can do to deserve anything I’m given. I’m actually envious of people that have no clue how much they suck. Their confidence in their non-existent skills has to be a great feeling. I mean that sincerely. I wish I could be that but I can’t. I will continue to struggle with whether I deserve to even wear a black belt, or have anyone listen to anything I say on the topic of self protection.
And I will continue to work my ass off to ensure that those that have trusted me enough to invest their time and effort in passing on their knowledge to me aren’t disappointed. I will continue to work my ass off to make sure folks that trust me enough to train them will find that training valuable.