One of the best compliments I ever received was from a student and colleague who noted, “When you get a new piece of information, you get excited. You’ll say, ‘Don’t you understand…this changes everything?!!!” I think what he meant was that when I get a new piece of information, it changes everything for me….eventually.
While I periodically get enthusiastic about change, my disorder makes change very challenging. Times change, and I’m left behind. This means if I’m going to keep up with the times, I have to be ahead of them.
But I can only be ahead of them in spirit, the body changes too slowly…at least for now. But the prediction of where things will likely go helps those of us who are little slower catch up. And this all leaves me with a very important question, “Where are things going?” (More importantly – to me- where am I going?)
When I can make a somewhat educated guess as to where things are going, I can start work on moving in that direction. Since I move a bit slower than most (both literally and metaphorically), I need a head start. I usually need that head start in any direction.
An example direction is Martial Arts. There have been three trends that have emerged since I’ve been practicing BJJ. I’ve tried to stay ahead of all three.
The first was the movement away from the Gi. It’s only now with the popularity of EBI, 10PJJ, and the DDS (these acronyms mean something to BJJ players) that No Gi is emerging as a distinct practice. I saw it early (Marcelo @ ADCC and at my home Dojo) and 2.5 years after I started (over 10 years ago), I took off the Gi and haven’t consistently put it back on since.
The next trend that emerged in BJJ (which is in full force now) is the practice of leg locks. While I have never been interested in becoming a leg lock specialist, I did start becoming more versed in their use. I watched videos, bought books, and started rolling with leg lockers.
The final trend that has yet to surface in BJJ but I believe ultimately will is wrestling. Fundamental wrestling shuts down many submissions. And wrestling wins nearly every position.
No Gi, Leg Locks, and Wrestling has and will change everything in BJJ. But what clued me in to that? Why did I think that those things changed everything?
I thought No Gi, Leglocks, and Wrestling changed BJJ because I saw how their players fared against traditional BJJ players. I saw how the practice of each of those demonstrated dominance. While I only saw No Gi players, leg lockers, and wrestlers show up occasionally, the effect was undeniable.
Others saw the same thing I did…but where I saw the future, they saw an anomaly. You have to understand the scope of this, though. These were just a few data points.
These three trends were previously only personified. They were three solitary datums. But I knew that they wouldn’t be solitary for long.
When I saw the three trends first emerge, there was resistance to their practice. They weren’t looked at as trends. They were looked at as trendy, a novelty.
Each time the trend reappeared, it became easier for people to accept that this new thing was here to stay. And the new somehow subsumed the old. Those people who wouldn’t accept the new either left or became a relic of the past.
While we don’t identify as such, we’re all more naturally conservative than progressive. We want to conserve what was before more so than we want to progress past it. While some things are timeless and remain, those things are in the minority.
The natural order is change. In order to orient towards the future, we have to be on the constant lookout for what will change everything. Most things that are new won’t be catalysts.
But when we see something new that puts a chink in the armor of the old, we have to pay attention – very close attention – to understand the scope of that change. For every bit of change we see, we get more insight into what actually works. And we better understand what changes everything…and the personal work it takes to change.