Specialization and Mastery: Massage the Octopus for 40 to 50 Minutes

I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi while I was sick and found it to be full of simple wisdom on how to get good at anything:

  1. Do it every day.
  2. Do the same very select set of tasks.
  3. Keep trying different ways of accomplishing those tasks with the goal of finding a better way.

octopus_by_leovilelaJiro is a chef who narrowed his attention on just sushi. No soup, no salad, no noodles, no fish not in sushi form. For that matter, rice has to be part of it. And actually I think he only makes nigirizushi and not makizushi and temaki. Whatever. The point is he does very few “dishes”, has done it for 70+ years, every day, obsessed with always improving.

In jiu jitsu world, I would equate this approach to only working on closed guard bottom and submitting everyone from there. If you end up on top, you let the person sweep you right into your closed guard.

One of the most memorable, and perhaps absurd, moments of the film is when Jiro explains that he used to massage the octopus meat for 20 to 30 minutes in order to make it less tough, but now he does it for 40 to 50 minutes. Then, there was footage of an assistant hand-massaging octopus meat. I know very little about cooking, but that just seemed a bit insane.

Perhaps, that’s one of the best ways to know you’re on the way to mastery: you should be doing stuff that will seem insane to others. So, ask a friend: “Hey bro, are there things you see me doing that you think are insane?” If his answer is “No” then you need to step up your game and massage the f’ing octopus for at least an hour.

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