Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Kareem on Kobe

In Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s recent newsletter, he wrote about what he loved about Kobe Bryant:

There’s only one Kobe statistic that fascinates me. Kobe twice led the NBA in scoring and in 2006 he scored 81 points in a single game, putting him right behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.

But those aren’t the stats I’m interested in.

This is: Kobe Bryant missed the most career field goals in NBA history. He missed 14,481 times.

To take the shot is to embrace failure and success at the same time. To miss so much and yet feel confident enough to shoot again and again embodies the best qualities of human beings: to imagine something beyond what is, beyond what you’ve ever been able to do, and to strive to make that a reality, no matter how many times you fail.

Now consider that he probably, very likely, also leads everyone in missed attempts in practices.

While most (all) of us aren’t trying to become a jiu-jitsu (or anything) legend, we can still use this same approach to get better.

So often, I see students play a safe game, afraid to lose position or get submitted. The point of a roll is movement. Assuming we’ve got our self-defense basics down, we should use our rolls to get as many reps in as many positions as we can. Because remember, no one cares anyway. It’s quantity first, then quality. The bad reps in the beginning lead to improvement, and the bad ones have to be there.

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