Jenny Drapkin is the Senior Editor of mental_floss magazine. For the next week, we’ll be serializing “All The Presidents’ Secrets,” her fantastic feature from the September-October 2007 issue. Make her feel welcome.
"President Theodore Roosevelt not only practiced judo in the White House, he also became America’s first brown belt. It was an accomplishment in the combined history of world leaders and martial arts not surpassed until a century later, when Russian president Vladimir Putin advanced to the level of sixth-degree black belt. (Putin’s known for his vicious sweeping hip throw, by the way.) Of course, Roosevelt wasn’t exactly shy about his hobby. He lined the White House basement with training mats, and he practiced with anyone who was willing to tussle—including his wife and sister-in-law. Once, he even brightened a boring state luncheon by throwing the Swiss minister to the floor and demonstrating a judo hold, to the delight of his guests."
I personally feel the quote to your left truly embodies the warrior spirit that Samurai, Judoka, boxers, and average citizens strive to attain in everyday life. It is not about winning, or losing. But rather about your attitude and approach to any task be it physical, mental, emotional or otherwise! We have all heard the saying "Fall 8 times, and get up 9!" Right? Well in a nutshell that is the warrior spirit.
I have learned more in my recent BJJ losses than I have with my wins. Why is that? The human psyche and spirit strives for perfection, though logically we realize that this is something that will never come. Sure perhaps you "master" that jab cross combo. But while working so diligently on those techniques we cannot help but neglect any other area such as throws, kicks, or defense for example. So therefore we continue to train, and come back and put in hour upon hour of sweat equity. Our "goals" become lifestyles. Our striving for perfection becomes our training routine. And so on....
Those who do not leave their ego at the door and train with an open mind are usually the first to drop out and quit. They quit not because they are physically unable to train (some will offer that excuse). Not because they do not understand the training. They quit because their ego cannot handle losing. And fortunately we have to lose at something many, many times before we "win" at it! No one reading this rode a bike perfectly the first time they climbed on it! How many scraped knees, banged elbows, and spilt tears did you go through before you got the flow of the pedals and wheels under you? Perhaps it is hard for you to remember. Know why? Because when you finally reached that point where you were riding all by yourself it felt so great that you forgot the pain and suffering you went through to get on the bike.
Training is no different. I get tapped every single night I grapple! I get hit every single time I spar! And you know what.... I would not change it for the world! Learn from your mistakes, and celebrate your parteners successes! The most important thing you can do.... just keep coming back! Never quit! Remember a black belt is nothing more than a white belt who never gave up! In the end at least you know you gave it your all, and in that you KNOW who you are!