Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Weak and Dumb

“Just do what you’re told.”1

The weak student has no choice. He has to rely on proper technique and timing. He’ll fail a lot at first, but these failures are required to reach mastery.

The strong student has strength. The strong beginner will rely on strength to get out of bad positions or to force submissions. Over the first six months, he’ll have failed (practiced) proper technique much less often than the weak beginner.

The “dumb” student doesn’t question. He just does as he’s told. And he figures it out.

The smart student questions the move and he maybe also doubts the instructor.2 He spends too much time thinking and not enough getting the reps in.

We encourage questions. We want students to understand the “why” as well as the “how.” That’s the way to principle-based learning. But in the beginning, it’s helpful to just do as you’re told.

There’s no secret. You won’t find the shortcut.

(Strength and intelligence help a lot later, so don’t stay weak and dumb forever.)

  1. That’s how Alex Stuart answered when I asked him what the secret to improving was during our first lesson. He earned his black belt at the Gracie Academy after less than six years of training. ↩︎

  2. “Question authority” is a good rule to keep, but if you’re at a school where you have doubts about your teacher, train elsewhere. ↩︎

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