Sunday, April 3, 2011


Long before I stepped on the mat for the very first time, my father
taught me to play chess when I was seven years old. I couldn’t really tell you exactly what it was about chess that sparked my interest, and I’m not
sure I can put my finger on it today. Long story short, it wasn’t too long
before the chess student was submitting his instructor. Some can relate to
that, we’ve seen it happen time and time again. In fact, if it’s true what they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there may be no greater compliment to any teacher or sensei than to see his students take what they’ve learned and eventually surpass their instructor. It’s hard to explain my interest in jiu-jitsu right from the very start; I guess it was a calling.

Over the years, I’ve spent so many hours training and competing, I’ve
hardly had time to get my chessboard out. I’m sure it’s in a box somewhere
with my Rubik’s Cube. Lately I’ve thought about finding that box and
maybe even getting back into chess again. Forget the Rubik’s Cube. One
thing I have done is to give some thought to what it is that first attracted me to chess and eventually to my passion in life, jiu-jitsu. The parallels are amazing to say the least.

There’s a harmony about chess just as there is in jiu-jitsu that appeals
to me and I’m sure it appeals to many others who train martial-arts. Chess is a game of the mind. It’s about thinking ahead. Jiu-jitsu is also a game of thinking and executing. Both are games that involve technique and timing. If we’ve learned anything from martial-arts it’s this: Training and technique take precedence over power. In my own case I’ve never been the strongest, but what I lacked in strength I made up for in training, hours and hours of training combined with technique. Einstein may not have been referring to jiu-jitsu, but he could have been when he said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know!” Or, as Socrates said, “One thing I know, and that is that I know nothing!” That may be what keeps my feet moving forward and motivates me to train. Like chess, jiu-jitsu is very complex. Anyone who knows me has heard me say this, “There may not be anything as complex as jiu-jitsu.” So, whether you’re playing chess in an international tournament or practicing jiu-jitsu, remember that training, technique, and skill will make the difference between the world champion and the guy who taps.

Robert Drysdale

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