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Burdette BJJ Blog - Week 4

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Stripe 4 – Be Teachable

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. Are you planning a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”

St. Augustine


Regardless of how long you’ve been training Jiu Jitsu, there are always new things to learn. It’s amazing how quickly the Jiu Jitsu game changes; it truly is ever evolving. Just look at the evolution of guard play over the past few years: worm guard, squid guard, mantis guard, donkey guard…all the animal guards! I can’t say I subscribe to all of these, but there are plenty of new techniques that are applicable to your game, and it would be foolish to dismiss them. Thus, it’s imperative to continually have a desire to learn…but equally important is being teachable. Even as a black belt, I continue to learn, and I make sure I’m constantly teachable. I continue to learn new things from my blues, purples, and browns (sorry, white belts). There’s a great verse in Proverbs 12:1 that speaks directly to this: “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.” Ouch, but it’s true. Learning is knowledge, and we should all desire more knowledge on the mats, as well as in life. 


Everyone has heard the statement “there’s no such thing as a dumb question”, yet many of us fear asking questions on the mats for fear of looking foolish. The act of not asking question is in fact foolish. In fact, it’s biblical! James 1:5 states, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Need to see a technique again? Ask your professor! Got caught during a roll? After the roll, ask to see the technique and then replicate it. It’s not foolishness; it’s called learning; it’s called being teachable; it’s called being humble. Regardless of what belt you are, you should always be in a teachable state. You never know how it may change your game!


A perfect example of being teachable is found in the book of Acts chapter 8. Phillip, one of Jesus’ apostles was sent by an angel to visit the treasurer of Ethiopia. The Bible states that he was in fact a man of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. This guy had status, clout and most likely a very intelligent human being. It’s also important to note that he was most likely a man of religious stature, as we see him returning from Jerusalem where he was worshipping. When Phillip shows up on the scene he finds the treasurer perplexed by verses he was reading out of the book of Isaiah (I can definitely identify with that!). Phillip politely asks the man if he understands what he is reading, to which he replies “How can I unless someone instructs me?” Yes! That is the attitude we should all have. No one knows it all, and we can always learn from each other. The story ends with Phillip instructing him on the meaning of the verses, and the man ends up getting baptized on the roadside! What an amazing encounter that would never have happened if the man hadn’t asked for help. Imagine what you may be missing if you live with an attitude that you know it all. 


What questions do you have? In Jiu Jitsu…in life? Ask them; find someone you trust and ask. Mother Theresa said, “Keep the corners of your mouth turned up. Speak in a low, persuasive tone. Listen; be teachable. Laugh at good stories and learn to tell them...For as long as you are green, you can grow.” That’s a powerful statement: as long as you are green, you can grow! Stay green, friends!

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