A brotherhood formed in the crucible...

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not something you do, from the moment that you put on the gi, BJJ becomes a part OF you the way a symbiote would feed off of a host changing its primary functions and altering the primary objectives that it once had. To that end, if you had even gotten past the first class you had made what the normal world might call "friends," but in the world of BJJ they would all become brothers or sisters - some you love more than others but all of them shared blood, sweat, and tears with you. Training, serious training, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a crucible as much as it is a way to stay in shape, or learn to fight.

In the past twelve years I have trained with 5 different jiu jitsu schools, under three different black belts, with hundreds of brothers and sisters I have shared the mat with, all of whom had an impact on my training and ultimately my life. There are a core group that I will always be close with and probably train with well into my 50's with but there are the others who have come and gone in my life for one reason or another. We have either fallen out of contact, trained at other schools, or life intervened. But there isn't a single person I have trained with that did not have an impact on me in some way, that is just how BJJ works.

There is a ranking system (or belt system) in BJJ and I was fortunate to have made it to blue after a very long road that taught me skills that would serve me for the rest of my life. Things like, just when you are about to achieve "the thing" life can get a whole lot nastier before the good stuff happens. In jiu jitsu when you achieve a belt rank (all except Black Belt) you have to go through what is called "the gauntlet," when your entire team hits you as hard as humanly possible in the back (twice) in order to test if you are truly ready to earn the belt...

I had gone through it before Joe with another dear friend Bryan Litwin who got his purple belt the day I got my blue - to this day I can still tell you what being hit by 25+ other teammates feels like in a specificity that might suggest it was not insanely painful. But that is one of the tenets of a crucible right, the testing part.

Today my BJJ brothers are being tested and I write tonight for them as much as for me, which might be unfair to you - but getting these thoughts out has been helpful and for that understanding, I thank you. 

Life is a surprisingly difficult task if you let it and the trick of not letting it at times appears all too daunting to even manage. So, I write to everyone I have ever shared the mat with to say to you, thank you. I may see you every week or not in many years - but every single one of you has made an impact and just about every one of you is going through the same emotions I am tonight, so I hope this helped and since Dylan Thomas' poem "Do not go gentle" seems to be all the rage (in Interstellar and the WWE14 commercial) I shutter to use it but it seems to fit all too well...

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Eric HultgrenComment