I have recently started taking a few Brazilian Ju-Jitsu classes. It’s all very new and, to be honest, a bit intimidating. So far I’ve been one of the most unfit and least knowledgeable students in the class. The techniques are a knot of arms and legs and I’m having trouble seeing how it all fits together. To cap it all in my first few classes I’ve even looked the odd one out: I was one of the only ones not in a ‘Gi’.
Why is this experience so stressful for me? Is it the environment? No, so far the people at the club have been friendly and helpful. It is me. Or rather the experiences that I bring with me. At some level I’m afraid of conflict. I’m afraid of standing up for myself. I’m afraid of my own power. The answer is not to run away from the fear and the power but to engage with it. To find a safe way to channel it and to realise that, when I do, the world does not come to an end.
In my work I relate the engaging with this inner power with the level of engagement we have with our parents …. especially our father. Ideally, when we were young, we were able to safely express our anger and independence and have it contained by our parents. They were not overwhelmed by us. They were not controlled by us. They could handle us. We felt safe.
When these ideal conditions are not met then we become afraid of the consequences of our anger. Perhaps they use physical violence to stop us upsetting them or blame us for the upset they were feeling to make us feel guilty for hurting them. To avoid these consequences we bottle up our anger and withdraw from our parents to a safe distance. Our relationship becomes, at best, polite; at worst, non-existant. But as we withdraw from our parents we also withdraw from the part of us who is devoted to them. We split ourselves off from this ‘inner child’ and s/he’s pissed off with us for leaving them. Just as we are pissed off with our parents for not being able to handle our anger.
Coming back into contact with your inner child means facing their anger. Handling it. Containing it. Imagine an angry kid telling you to back off and leave him/her alone. What do you do? If you want contact you stay with them. If they lash out at you when you approach then you get in close and hold them. How long for? As long as it takes for them to begin to trust that you are not going to just leave them again. Until they begin submit to your love and allow themselves to let go of the burden of responsibility that they have been carrying.
This is what Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is like. It is about getting in close and using technique to gain submission. So I’m going to stick at it and do my best to keep ‘beginner mind’. My new white Gi arrived today. I’m going to go to the classes I can and study at home too.
While studying clips on YouTube I found the following video. It brought tears to my eyes and so I’d like to share it with you now.