“The usefulness of the cup is in it’s emptiness.” – Osso

Like the cup, when the mind is full there is no room to learn, no space for anything new. When full, it is too preoccupied on preexisting thoughts and emotions – problems, worries or doubts. You’re either living in the past (e.g. stress) or the future (e.g. anxiety), and that is no condition to focus on the present.

Case and point – Imagine being on the operating table about to undergo surgery. Your surgeon walks in. And while you’re trying to focus on the task at hand (what is about to happen to you), all you can overhear is the surgeon and their staff talking about stuff that has nothing to do with you at all – like problems at home, something upcoming or otherwise topics completely unrelated to your procedure.

Would you be worried? I would be.

That is a rather extreme example, but the point is… whether you’re a surgeon or a white belt taking your jiujitsu lesson for the day, you are at your most effective when you clear your mind of preexisting thoughts and focus on the task at hand.

In a real-world sense, to be empty means to be receptive.

Once you step onto those mats, within reason and just for an hour or two, the rest of the world should temporarily fade away.

Training is your escape from all that. By emptying your mind first, you’ll be more receptive to learning. And once you go back to the “real world,” you’ll do so with renewed vigor.

Here are a few key points to remember:

  1. Take some time before class to decompress from your day. Leave your problems at the door. Make it a habit to be mentally ready for class when you walk through those doors.
  2. Be open to anything. When we open ourselves up to the possibilities, we also engage in our own creativity. Let your energy flow.
  3. It is impossible to learn if you already think that you already know everything. Don’t be wrapped up in your previous knowledge. Don’t be a know it all. Rather learn the lesson of the day and always try to take what you can from it.
  4. Be vulnerable. Training isn’t always about winning/losing. Nobody is invincible. It’s not even something you should aspire to. As an upper belt, sometimes you have to put yourself in a bad spot so you too can learn. And as a lower belt, it’s also okay to acknowledge a problem area then ask questions to fix it. Those with an aptitude for learning bigger than their own ego will always win-out long-term.
  5. Leave it all on the mats. Make sure that when you’re training, you’re truly focused on training. Be receptive, work out and train as if you’re leaving it all out there. Why? So once you go back to the rest of your life, your mind is once again empty from training and you can focus on everything else again.

Focus on all this and you should feel much more balanced as you live and train.

See you all on the mats.

Prof. Mike