If you want to be good, have the courage to be bad first.

When I decided to start jiu jitsu, it was in the middle of the kids class. My kids had been going to these classes for over a year, and they always had such a good time. On top of that, all the adults that rolled in for the night class looked super fit, and I thought… fun+fit…. why not??


The thought that jiu jitsu could be even remotely hard didn’t even enter my mind. I mean… if my kids could learn it, surely I could! I ran it by their teacher and he enthusiastically welcomed me to check out one of the adult classes. I rolled into my first class, a little nervous and a little excited.


There were (what felt like) 100 guys and one other woman who trained there. They had these warm up routines that everyone knew already, and I was supposed to just follow along. These body movements felt so completely unnatural, like asking a dog to meow. How in the hell do I get my body to move like that? Why am I so slow? Why do I have to do these in front of everyone and hold up the whole damn line while they all watch me… oh god. This kind of sucks. Then came the technique portion of the class. I know they were speaking English, and I know they were showing the move, but I comprehended 0% of it. I was lost the entire time, and nothing made sense. THIS WAS REALLY HARD.


My kids were excited enough about me starting to learn jiu jitsu, that I felt obligated to keep going to at least a few more classes. I made a point to actually pay attention during my kids classes, and try to pick things up. I showed up, and I sucked really bad. The movements continued to confuse me. I constantly held up the warm up lines. I was last picked when it was time to pick a partner to train with, and I didn’t understand the stuff they taught. But I kept going anyway, because showing up meant I sucked a little less than the last time.


Almost two long years of showing up, sucking, and not giving up later, I was promoted to blue belt. I hadn’t worked so hard and been humbled so consistently in my entire life. But I think that’s what made it so special.


Through those two years, I saw the power of showing up, no matter how bad you are. Having the courage to be bad and keep going will inevitably lead to becoming good at something. As I think about my art and my drawing, I’ve realized that it’s no different. If I want to get good, I first need the courage to be bad and to keep showing up anyway.

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