I was texting with my friend after class the other day about how all the rounds with the women at our gym are super tough. I jokingly said, “I wonder if that means we’re the rest rounds since every other round is challenging???” To which she quickly replied, “I know I’m not a rest round but, I definitely go slow with you when we roll so you can work.”
Um I’m sorry, what??
Talk about the ego going into high alert! Immediately I started counting all the ways I’m better than she is, how many times I’ve passed her guard, gotten to top, subbed her – even in a single round – and got ready to fire back a response. Then I took a breath and wondered if I could look at this another way…
So often our world tends to be black and white. I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m winning, you’re losing. I’m working, you’re resting. I’m on this team, you’re on that team. Yet in my journey off the mat, I’ve discovered there is so much grey area between these two opposing sides that are just as valid, if not more so. Sometimes two seemingly opposite perspectives are both right because we’re coming at the same situation from two different angles. Sometimes my “win” is also a win for you and there is no “loser.” Sometimes we’re both resting and we’re both working all in the same round. There’s a great deal of power in stepping back and realizing we’re all on the same team and don’t have to be divided, even if we train under different roofs.
It’s easy to label things that are “opposites” as good and bad, when really they’re simply two sides of the same coin. In Jiu Jitsu we often hear, “sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail.’ The real measure of success isn’t always being the hammer, just like the real measure of “losing” isn’t being the nail. The real win is knowing what you’re fighting for, and showing up to carry out that mission every single day.
My mission on and off the mat is to have the heart of a warrior while remaining rooted in love. That last part may seem counter intuitive as a fighter and a martial artist, but it’s summed up in this quote from the final scene in Wonder Woman:
“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I
glimpsed the darkness that lives within [humans’] light, and I learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.” — Wonder Woman
To have the heart of a warrior while remaining rooted in love means to fight for what I believe in and to give for the world I know can be: to build community, to strengthen my heart and the hearts of those around me, to speak truth and light into others, to both find my light and help others find theirs. I don’t need to be the best in order to do that, I only need to be my best. And my best is showing up every day ready to fight, ready to push myself, ready to be the very best I can be in every single round and with every single training partner. Some rounds that means I’ll be the hammer, and others it means I’ll be the nail – and both are needed to forge my body, mind, and spirit into the heart of a warrior.
So with all that in mind, I’m fine being your rest round. Because I’m going to play my game and you can play yours, and there’s always room for both of us on these mats. For the competitor, the healer, the fighter, the lover, the warrior; for the one who’s finding herself, the one who’s healing herself, the one who’s rediscovering herself. We all have different reasons for showing up to train, and what matters is that every single day we all show up in order to become our very best. In every single round, with every single training partner. Knowing that some days we’ll be the hammer, some days we’ll be the nail – but every day we’re becoming the best warriors we can be on and off the mats. Rest rounds and all.
Katie is a blue belt training at Elite Team Visalia in California under Professor Tom Knox. When not training, she works as a Life Fulfillment Coach helping people discover their purpose and reach their full potential, facilitates trainings to improve team dynamics, and co-hosts a podcast called Life Off the Mat with fellow teammates. You can connect with her on social media @legitkatiewilliamson and learn more about becoming your best self at www.katiewilliamsoncoaching.com