When I was five, my parents enrolled me in Tae Kwon Do classes at a local McDojo in Bergen County. Classes consisted of a warm-up, learning sequences of moves called “forms”, and then physical conditioning (which doubled as disciplinary action for when we fooled around). Being five, I was excited about the prospect of learning how to fight, but soon grew to dread the strict atmosphere and difficult conditioning.
Despite my dislike, I ended up training there until I was ten. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn much that I could use to actually defend myself. It seemed to me like the focus was more on developing discipline than skills for self defense.
Years later, I came to my first class of BJJ at Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA. Like many others, I had been mesmerized by the rise of MMA, mixed martial arts, and the UFC and I wanted to start training mma as soon as possible. To be honest, I was nervous. From what I had seen on TV shows like the Ultimate Fighter, I expected the academy to be full of hardcore fighters and the practices to be a grueling meat grinder.
To my surprise, the academy was nothing like I expected. The atmosphere was a lot more laid back and friendly. The bjj classes started with a simple bow, a quick warmup, and then we went straight into learning techniques. There was none of the ceremony or enforced discipline that I so disliked as a child.
Here at Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA, we don’t believe in using conditioning to create discipline in our students. Instead, our focus is on teaching and developing martial arts SKILLS. Funny enough, despite this “lack of discipline,” I’ve personally developed way more discipline from taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. The way I see it, the biggest difference between my experiences in TKD and BJJ was the STYLE in which discipline was taught.
At the McDojo, we were taught to perform the correct “forms” under the threat of being punished by running laps or doing duck walks around the gym.
In BJJ, the task of developing discipline is left to the martial arts students. If we are lazy in training, guess what? We get tapped out. If we are the opposite – disciplined, proactive, engaged – we get to reap the rewards.
This kind of discipline is self-directed and self-imposed. It is an internal drive that pulls us into action based on our personal goals. On the other hand, discipline that relies on the threat of punishment is external. It forces us into action based on our fear of the punishment. While the former energizes and strengthens our will, the latter depletes it.
Develop internal discipline. Reap the rewards. That is all.