The Little Goals

by prototypemmeh

Several days ago – on recommendation of a good friend – I signed up for Reddit and went immediately to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sub-Reddit.  Okay, so I’m predictable, but what’s wrong with that?  While browsing through the many threads, I cam across something quite interesting: 100 things you should do before reaching black belt.

The article was written for, and quite unsurprisingly is Gracie Barra-centric (e.g. 75- Have a favourite Gracie.).  Despite that, it was still quite an interesting read, and provided me with many little goals to achieve.

Let’s start by listing off the ones I have already accomplished:

1- Like Jiu-Jitsu.
2- Love Jiu-Jitsu.
3- Respect Jiu-Jitsu.
8- Have a gruelling training session with your own master.
9- Make a lot of close friends at the gym.
12- Realize that deep, deep down points and the clock do not exist, while nothing is more real than those three little taps.
14- Learn to speak English. The way the Jiu-Jitsu market is going, you’ll have to get around in other continents.
21- Learn to lose.
25- If surfing isn’t your thing, work on another outdoor activity to invigorate you on those days you’re not in the gym.
29- Shave your head, even if just once.
31- Offer yourself as your master’s sparring partner, especially in private classes, as you, too, will learn a lot.
38- Use your technical abilities and stamina to get out of a bind. Adventures are a part of every black belt’s story.
54- Forget steroids.
60- Get turned down by women because of your ears.
64- Understand how your body works, after all each body type adapts to Jiu-Jitsu differently. Your game should be in tune with the type of body you boast.
65- Respect the white belts. And the blues, purples…
69- Tap, tap, tap and tap, over and over again. And, who knows? Maybe even pass out from some choke. That’s part of the game, and it’s all a learning experience until you’ve been decorated with the highest honours.
70- Do a no-time limit fight (at least in training), to the finish.
86- Find a way of deriving pleasure from the big and little things in Jiu-Jitsu, from warming up to even the bad days in the gym and the losses.

Some of them are on-going of course, accomplishments that I do – or try to do – after every session.  Others just make sense, like #69.  I tap to armbars quite often, because I need my arms, their joints, tendons, ligaments and everything else to be in working condition.

Next, let’s look at some of the goals that really pique my interests:

4- Learn to balance force and technique so as to fight as long as you can without tiring.
5- Understand that the belt is not the only objective, but the result of effort and learning. One whose only objective is to get a new belt limits his own potential, which is always enormous and unknown. Rather than focus on that, concern yourself with developing technical aspects of the fight.
10- Enter a tournament – and return home with a gold medal.
13- Participate in a seminar conducted by your greatest idol.
15- Learn to perform a flying armbar.
16- Compete at a World Championship.
17- Invent a hold or move.
18- Give the move a really creative name like “the flying butterfly,” “get-that-sucka” or “fireball,” for example.
22- Learn to win.
30- Try to take private classes – vital for refining your technique and learning tricks from your teacher.
36- Encourage a child to start learning Jiu-Jitsu. After all, they are the future of the sport.
37- Gain self-control.
42- Get yourself a physiotherapist buddy who after all the appointments gives you that discount when some new little injury crops up…
44- Find out when the best time of the day for you to train is, figuring out whether your body responds better to training hard at night, in the afternoon or early in the morning.
50- Be flexible; discover your favourite stretching routine.
51- Get your bottom game on par with your top game – or at least close to it.
52- Face off with athletes from other styles, like wrestlers in submission grappling tournaments, judoka friends and so on.
53- Have a lot of talks with higher ranked athletes and old masters.
55- Document the best shape you’ve ever been in in photos. Besides serving as a record, this will motivate you to not keep in shape, even as the years – and belts – go by. You will also have a beautiful photo to one day show your kids and grandkids…
56- Go on an unforgettable trip to compete or train Jiu-Jitsu with the team.
57- Represent well and divulge our Jiu-Jitsu’s flag abroad.
61- Pick up women because of your ears.
63- Donate your old gis to the needy and social-benefit projects.
71- If you have friends in other academies, visit new environments. “I would like to have trained more with other athletes to have tested my Jiu-Jitsu without the pressure of doing tournaments. I feel I missed something for not having trained with Amaury, Libório, Roleta, Cachorrão and Pé de Pano,” reveals six-time world champion Saulo Ribeiro.
72- Be somebody’s hero – even if it’s just your little brother.
73- Explain Jiu-Jitsu philosophy more than once to a number of friends, and don’t lose your patience when you hear, “But fighters are all kind of stupid, aren’t they?”
82- Find out what motivates you before a training session and what makes you feel better after a bad day at the gym – be it music, reading or positive thinking.
83- Develop your own style as a fighter.
84- Develop your own style as a teacher.
87- Learn CPR.
88- Learn to deal with the fear, insecurity and anxiety we all have in us, some more, some less than others. That is why competition is one of the best environments for us to get to know ourselves not just as athletes.
98- Write up your own list of 50, 100 or 200 goals you WILL meet achieve reaching black belt.
99- Apply the principal law of Jiu-Jitsu (“Minimum effort for maximum efficiency”) to your own life. Face challenges in the simplest way possible, as this will certainly be the most efficient.

Obviously I have a lot of goals I need to complete, but that’s what makes life interesting.  The goals will be signposts in the road of life, accomplishments signifying – if even just to me – improvement, understanding and acceptance.
A special note for #71: Saturday the 23rd I’ll be in Vernon for a tournament, and quite possibly the only familiar faces will be my cousin and the RDC team.  I will be in “enemy territory”, no teammates, only those whom I have beaten.  Maybe if I ask nicely enough, Sterling will coach me – assuming I’m not against one of his guys of course.

For the complete list in order, head over to

We finish off with 20 commandments before reaching black belt:

1-   Thou shalt not stall.
2-   Thou shalt not wimp out.
3-   Thou shalt not skip practice for silly reasons.
4-   Thou shalt not drink alcohol excessively.
5-   Thou shalt not partake in excessive slamming.
6-   Thou shalt not wear stinky gis or neglect your hygiene.
7-   Thou shalt not whine about refereeing.
8-   Thou shalt not be a “creonte” – respect your master and gym.
9-   Thou shalt not heed orders that go against your values.
10- Thou shalt not be rude during training.
11-  Thou shalt not make a trophy of your mangled ear.
12-  Thou shalt not succumb to cupcakes, candy bars and the likes.
13-  Thou shalt not show off – be discreet. After all, the more exposed you are, the greater the target.
14-  Thou shalt not talk too much smack nor cause discord between training partners.
15-  Thou shalt not take cheap shots.
16-  Thou shalt not take Steven Seagal films seriously.
17-  Thou shalt not count advantage points.
18-  Thou shalt not delay in letting go of your opponent when he taps.
19-  Thou shalt not take the stress of life out on training partners.
20-  Thou shalt not steal training partners’ flip-flops.

I’ll tell you right now that I don’t follow #12.  By not following it, I allow my coworkers to have a better chance at following it.
#18 is key.  Once I feel a tap, or hear the words “tap tap tap”, I immediately let go – or at least loosen up – and begin a quick and gentle untangling of whatever position we were in for the submission.  Some are easier than others: chokes I usually just have to stop flexing, but joint-locks I have to be more careful lest I do actual damage.

I’ll try to update these goals as I accomplish them.  Until next week!

–Kiyoshi “The Prototype”
Your #1 Canadian eh?