I have been urged to write this blog due to recent news of various criminal behaviours that have popped up within the jiu-jitsu community within the last few months. Considering that I own a jiu-jitsu Academy, this could seem like a counter marketing or anti-jiu-jitsu blog but it's the truth and I believe the truth always shapes out the best. Jiu-Jitsu is marketed like a god. You will see shirts like "Jiu-Jitsu saves.", or "In Jiu-Jitsu we trust.". Let me say first that I love Jiu-Jitsu! I believe jiu-jitsu has MANY great benefits but in the end Jiu-Jitsu has no "REAL" power.
When you create a culture of self-empowerment, you also tend to create a culture self-entitlement. While it is nice to feel empowered, there is much responsibility that comes with it. Empowerment should be accompanied with other teachings like self-confrontation, respect and humility. As martial artists we need to teach people to how confront themselves and to act with honor and dignity. Currently our culture hardly understands the meaning of these. What is Honor? What is Respect? What is Obedience? The culture is too focused on self-empowerment, achievement and personal status. The martial arts community emphasizes the same concept perhaps more than anywhere else because advancement and empowerment are built in to the system of Martial Arts! It is a benefit of Martial Arts! However, this means that we need to be actively teaching the basics of obedience, kindness, goodness, respect, humility, gratitude & self-control. These are all things that traditional martial arts are known for and should accompany the natural benefit of self-empowerment through all martial arts!
I love jiu-jitsu and I believe it CAN BE a great instrument for teaching these things but jiu-jitsu itself knows NOTHING of it! Martial Arts as a whole knows nothing of it! Jiu-jitsu is no better than the "ONE" who is teaching and practicing it. I could easily say that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has changed the way people view Martial Arts. It has strayed so far from Respect and Honor that many schools don't even promote or practice such things. Just fighting. In fact, you could simply call many Schools, "Gyms". That's all they are is a gym. A place where people go to improve their physical attributes and feel self-empowered. It is easy to go that route but all though the more traditional Martial Arts have an "IMAGE" of developing Honor, Respect and Self-Discipline or to have a warrior code... the same power corruption and immoral behaviors have existed in Martial Arts from the beginning. Way before MMA! That being said, MMA certainly hasn't done much of anything good to promote respect and good virtue. Don't get me wrong. I DO believe that MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) or any other Martial Art CAN absolutely be used as an instrument to teach good virtue but once again...the arts themselves know nothing of it. It is up to the ones who teach and the ones who practice!
At my School, the Clinch Academy, I work diligently to promote and teach good virtue. We are not a Gym but an Academy. A place of learning and growth. A place where virtue and life lessons are attached to the art we practice. This in no way means that our Academy is perfect, that I am perfect or that my students are perfect. I'm sure many of my students are doing things in their own lives that are not in line with what we promote at the Clinch Academy. You can't monitor everyone, change ANYONE or force people to do as you want. All one can really do is create an environment that promotes, teaches and practices such things and then walk the talk! Maybe then, at least maybe in that environment, people will conform. Hopefully, it will even have an impact in their personal lives. But we all make mistakes. Bad things happen everywhere! It is not up to us to be anyones judge. People CAN change, but certain behaviours (like sexual assault) simply can not be tolerated. Boundaries have to be made. They MUST be made. To knowingly allow someone convicted of sexual assault to teach at your Academy is like having a recovering alcoholic work at a bar! You are setting them up for failure and putting your students at risk! You don't have to and shouldn't hate sexual predators or bash them. In fact we should pray for such people and try to be a good influence and a helpful resource. But there must be boundaries and those boundaries must be maintained! We ALL have sins! Who is to say that YOUR sins are any better? I'm sorry but in God's eyes YOU are no better. I am no better.
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.” -Jesus Christ / John 8:7
“There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." Romans 3:1o-12
Don't get me wrong. I think man to man we can find plenty of "good people", but man to God there are none. This is a whole other topic within itself. Regardless we know it is impossible for anyone to maintain a morally controlled and disciplined life without
#1 the knowledge of good and evil,
#2 Repentance for the evil we do
#3 the conviction to do good and
#4 the desire to continue in this pattern.
And still, nobody can do this perfectly. We all fail everyday in multiple ways to love God and love our neighbor. While martial arts do teach control and discipline, they don't specifically teach you how to apply these attributes to relationships. Jiu-jitsu doesn't teach you how to love your neighbor. Yes, it can help you love your neighbor better, but it does not purposefully teach it.
As a Christian, I learn everything I know about virtue and goodness from the Lord. The One who wrote the book on life and the purpose of it. The One who descended from above and became a man so that He could provide the means for us to repent (from our inability to love him and each other as we should) and be born again into a new life in relationship with Him through the power of His very own Spirit Who convicts us daily of our sin and empowers us to CONFRONT OURSELVES in order to Love and to do good as He has done and continues to do to us.
God DOES for us what jiu-jitsu, any other martial art, Yoga, religion or even the Ten Commandments CAN'T do.
He CHANGES our HEARTS and DESIRES and CONFORMS THEM TO HIS WILL. In this, he is also providing for us the means and the power to not only love Him, but to love one another in the same way that he has loved us. He teaches us to love with commitment, patience, faithfulness, kindness, humility, gentleness, joy and sacrifice! If you ever want to be empowered to do anything worthwhile, be empowered to do these! He invites any man, women or child of all races and of all colors to be His children. In Him, In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. We are ALL sinners saved by grace! I say that like its good news because it is! This is the "Gospel" or the "good news", that God has provided Christ to take on both perfection and wrath in our place. Through his obedience Christ became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Our record has been wiped clean, permanently in Christ! Now in humble joy we can respond back, not in obedience to the law (as we have failed since the beginning), but in love. Christ fulfilled the law (10 commandments) on our behalf and gave us a new law...To believe in Him, in His works, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all of your soul and with all of your strength AND to love your neighbor as yourself!
Because man is imperfect, you will never find a Martial Arts Academy that is perfect. You will never find a Church that is perfect. This is simply more evidence of the truth of God's word, that we are sinners. But regardless, God's Word IS perfect AND it proves true to those who seek it. I am speaking boldly about this because we need it! The world needs it! His Word holds the only true power to transform anybody's heart and mind to his good will. I wrote a blog once on "Self Discipline vs. Sanctification" and what the difference is. When it comes to self-discipline and desire, desire always wins! Thankfully in Christ, our desires can be transformed. He replaces our wicked unhealthy desires with righteous healthy desires (for us and toward others) that we discover everlasting joy in pursuing.
All things exists because of God and for God's glory. When you understand this and you truly desire to glorify God in all you do, you are going to seek out how to better love him AND your neighbor in everything you do! Jiu-Jitsu just becomes another way to glorify God, not seek your own glory, power and especially not to abuse others in any way. Instead of assaulting others, you are going to want to use jiu-jitsu to care for them and serve them the best you can with honor and dignity to God's glory. Jiu-jitsu and other Martial arts Academies should be SAFE places as we are in the self-defense business!
God is good. His word is good and those who seek it will find goodness. Jiu-jitsu doesn't SAVE. Jesus does. Yes it may save your life one day but you are still going to die. There is more to life than this life. Jiu-Jitsu, like anything else, has no real power. Jiu-Jitsu has no knowledge of goodness. Jiu-Jitsu is no greater than the one who teaches or practices it. And don't get me wrong, this is NOT and Anti-Jiu-jitsu Blog...I love jiu-jitsu and will continue using it every way I can to Glorify God and serve my community!