Recognising I’ll never be a world champion

It’s difficult, but it’s true.

Only a very, very small percentage of people will ever be truly, truly great. You and I are most probably not in that percentage.

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about my position in the jiu jitsu world. About how utterly, completely and terribly, abysmally, anonymously low it is.

I see videos of the greats, of the Leo Vieiras, the Naoya Uematsus, the Genki Sudos, the Rickson Gracies, the Andre Galvaos, the Eddie Bravos, the dude in the purple belt test, and it makes me a little sad, because I know I’ll probably never be that good.

Rickson Gracie will never give me a nickname. Marcelo Garcia will never ask to borrow my taping. Royler Gracie will never get my armpit in his face.

Faced with this thought, this idea that I’m 99% guaranteed a jiu jitsu career that involves pottering about at local competitions and clawing my way through each belt, I have three choices.

1) Cry. Give up. Realise it’s all hopeless. Some part of me, when I do something, always wants to be really, really good at it. Not just a little good, but to be really fantastic. I’m like the world’s laziest perfectionist. I’m a half-arsed obsessive compulsive. When I do something, I like to do it the same way every time. But that never actually happens because I’m too lazy and forgetful. When I enter into some field of endeavour, I’d like to do it to the best of my abilities and really make something of it, but that rarely happens because life always gets in the way. And I’m lazy. Sometimes when things are going really good at training, I imagine that I could enter the worlds one far, far off day. Then I get another cold, take a week off training, and return to suckitude.

2) Be a real American hero and yell “Fuck you!” in the face of insurmountable odds. In other words, delude myself that I will be the greatest in the world one day, and train with that lofty goal in mind. Pros: Looking totally awesome while being really aggressive in sparring and grunting a lot when performing moves; pumping my fist in the air while stirring rock music plays; wiping sweat and blood from my brow and taking a deep breath then plunging back into the fray. Cons: Requires too much energy; lifetime of minor disappointments followed by major disappointment when I fail miserably on the world stage and / or never even reach said stage.

3) Accept my lowly status and continue pottering. Now, this is more like it. You could even say it’s zen. Or Krishnamurtian. Or just lazy. But it basically means accepting my place in the grand scheme of things, and just getting on with it.

There’s a very cheesy and over-used saying which I’m going to use here again, with some cheese, delivered in in the form of a commandment.

Thou shalt not compare thyself to thy peers. Thou shall only comparest thyself to thy previous self.

It’s an oldy but a goody. It really is true. You can only compare yourself to how you were yesterday, and if you improved, you’re doing good.

Even the best out there are not the best for long.


My good friend Theo used to have a saying. “There’s always someone bigger and badder than you out there.” One night we were cruising along and we saw a guy prancing down the street, chest puffed out, looking like Captain I’m a Right Hard Bastard, giving everyone the stink eye. Theo pointed at him and said to me, “There’s always someone bigger and badder than you out there.”

Later that night, a friend of mine was drunk and tried to tackle Theo. Theo is a master ninja, and he stepped out of the way and redirected him into a wall. He split his head right open, so we took him to the hospital. Who did we see getting brought into the emergency room beaten to a bloody pulp? None other than Captain I’m a Right Hard Bastard. No word of a lie. Looks like he ran into someone bigger and badder and suffered the consequences.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes. You suck, the sooner you realise that, the sooner we can get on with our lives.