My friend had a poster of Bruce Lee poster with his famous “Be water, my friend,” quote on it. I remember making fun of him and Bruce Lee for it. At the time, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot too it. Just keep an open mind and don’t take a myopic approach to martial arts. Such an obvious idea, why does everyone love it so much? 

A few years later I started jiu-jitsu. I felt like the only thing really separating more advanced students than me was that they obviously knew more than I did. If an opponent took their arm, they know how to get their arm back. If their opponent goes to choke them, they know how to get out of harm’s way. In my mind, all I needed was more experience and more knowledge and more YouTube tutorials and I could start closing the gap. 

Flowing is Different

Since having my genius epiphany that all I needed to do was learn more moves, I’ve realized:

  1. It’s not just that people know more moves than me. Other students flowed better. They took their moves and seamlessly linked them together. 
  2. How beautifully simplistic Bruce Lee’s quote is. 

When I roll, and an opponent grabs a hold of my arm, my initial thought is “f*ck you, I’m going to get my arm back,” it’s all I focus on. When someone is, as Bruce Lee said, “being water” they take notice when an opponent takes their arm, but it isn’t all they focus on. A more proper mindset for me to have when an opponent grabs my arm is “Ok, so they have my arm, what are they leaving open that I can exploit?” 

You’re rarely going to always know what to do when you’re just starting out and often when an opponent grabs hold of your arm, or puts you in a choke there won’t be much you can do. However, forcing your brain to stop focusing on the thing you just lost and instead focus on what your opponent is giving you is a great first step.