Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Question Authority

In high school, my chemistry teacher was also the drivers' education teacher. I clearly remember one piece of advice he gave us, and it was terrible. He told us that if we ever lost control of the car and had to hit something, to square up and hit it dead on.

I was 15 with no driving experience. But I’d had plenty of passenger experience, read a lot, and watched plenty of TV and movies, and I knew that was wrong.

You sometimes hear that we shouldn’t take advice from someone without first-hand experience, or that we should take advice from someone with first-hand experience.

Two things. First, you need to trust yourself. Second, you shouldn’t listen to someone just because they have some authority.

A few weeks ago, I was teaching a certain technique. And I was teaching it 100% wrong. Luckily, after two awkward demonstrations, a couple upper belts questioned me. I thought about it, admitted my brain fart, and we corrected the mistake. They saved the class.

Third thing, the instructor sometimes has a mental lapse. It’s actually one of the reasons we encourage questions in class.

You don’t always have to question authority in public. But you ought to trust your skepticism if you’re skeptical.

Subscribe to the newsletter to get updates in your inbox.