I got the chance to witness the promotion of two guys to black belt that truly are inspirations on the mat (even though I’ve known them only a short time): Chris Tufts and Mike Ammon (aka “Pop Pop”). The picture above is of Jared and Wilson breaking in the two new black belts at BJJ United last night.
Ray also came up, and even gave me a ride back! We had a good conversation about life, judo, and jiu jitsu.
Anyway, Pop Pop (if I’m allowed to call him that) gave a great speech after receiving his black belt. He was incredibly humble, speaking volumes with just a few genuine words. One advice he gave was to “never quit”. He emphasized that there are a lot of ways to experience and enjoy jiu jitsu, but you always have to keep coming back to the mat through tough times and good times alike. The reason, he said, you shouldn’t allow yourself to quit in any aspect of jiu jitsu is because once you let a little bit of that quitter inside your mind, you will quit in other aspects of your life when things get tough. Basically, jiu jitsu is your chance to practice overcoming obstacles one day at a time, grinding through it, coming out a better human being at the other end of it.
The “never quit” really spoke to me. I often get on the mat after (or before) a LONG day of work, with little sleep, getting beat down by an aggressive opponent. I’ll have trouble breathing, some body part feeling especially weak, sore, or hurt, etc. The question then is: why not quit? Well, I think Pop Pop reminded me that quiting in these seemingly unimportant cases opens the door for the quitter mindset to enter your outlook on life, and then quiting will start to appear as an option in every challenging task you take on. And then quiting will become easy and natural. So perhaps winning the little battles over yourself on the mat has a much greater long-term importance than might at first seem. Maybe that is the greatest challenge and opportunity that jiu jitsu has presented me with: a chance to hone and master the “never quit” mindset.