Wisdom Is Transcendent

Jiu-jitsu is often on my mind, but it is just one aspect of my life. When I read, I prefer philosophy over fantasy, political over fiction. As I read, I naturally test and apply concepts to areas not necessarily intended by the text. The Bible, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Hayek, the Art of War. . . So many books contain wisdom that transcends the immediate topic area. It is as if an abstract concept is made real through application, despite the various applications.

Sometimes, application to jiu-jitsu is apparent, as if the writer were advising a blue belt on how to learn and grow.

  • “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
  • “Look in, let not either the proper quality, or the true worth of anything pass thee, before thou hast fully apprehended it”
  • “As flattering friends pervert, so reproachful enemies mostly correct.”
  • “There is an advantage in obedience to such rules not being coerced, not only because coercion as such is bad, but because it is, in fact, often desirable that rules should be observed only in most instances and that the individual should be able to transgress them when it seems to him worthwhile to incur the odium which this will cause.”
  • “Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat.”

These thoughts were obviously intended for a purpose other than jiu-jitsu. Yet because jiu-jitsu is laser focused on the idea that “If it works, it’s good jiu-jitsu”, fundamental truths of the physical and mental are forced to the front. We are led to questioning, “is it life, or is it jiu-jitsu?” Simply put, yes.

True gems of wisdom can be applied to various contexts without losing potency. We all color our interpretation of what we read, and sometimes that coloring reveals a transcendent concept that can be applied concretely to other areas.

“The process of learning involves interpretation, and the fewer particulars we require in order to arrive at our generalization, the more apt pupils we are in the school of wisdom.”

Abstraction allows us to apply mental models to concrete instances in jiu-jitsu. For example, allowing yourself to be picked up in the air for the sake of completing a submission works fine in a sport context since slams are generally not allowed anymore, but in a MMA or self defense context, a slam can knock you unconscious and have dire consequences. The abstract concept here is that a submission is not worth attempting completion if it puts you in a worse position. A reinterpretation of this concept is that when you have mount and are working on a submission, you should always keep mount rather than allow a reversal. The top mount is more valuable in any context than any guard.

Keep an open mind for wisdom, no matter what the source is. It may be a philosophical text, or it might be a white belt. The best wisdom does not need to be attributed to a source to be given weight.


(yet for the curious, quotes are from:
The Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, The Apostle Paul
Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Confessions of St. Augustine, St. Augustine
The Constitution of Liberty, Friedrich Hayek
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
Ideas Have Consequences, Richard M. Weaver)

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