The recent celebration of Labor Day left me reflecting my experiences in skilled trade. I spent 15 years installing commercial floors in LU 1181 before committing to Bjj full time. These are a few lessons I picked up that have a huge influence on how I teach and train.
Repetition gets a bad rap because it’s unpleasant, or at least it can be. I learned about repetition as an apprentice who just dropped out of high school. My uncle already had more than 30 years in the trade, and helped me get a job. After testing me in a little bit, he gave me my first project. I would spend the next 6 months spreading glue. In my mind, I was going to learn how to do it and move on to something else. Six months seemed like forever. I would ask what I need to work on next, and he would tell me something crazy like try to cut in a perfectly straight line on your backstroke. He said to think more about how much glue you put out on the floor, or the precise angle you hold your trowel at. Eventually, I started getting good. Being good was not the lesson he was teaching me. I was getting a glimpse of the lifetime of wear and tear he had already experienced. After a couple months, my body started to fall apart. I was posting on my left hand too hard, my hand and wrist hurt. I started holding my hand differently and then my shoulder would hurt, so I started examining my weight distribution. The whole time, he would constantly remind me to go faster while making fun of each mistake. Every single detail bought me a little better experience. I remember asking my uncle what I should do when I couldn’t feel my hand anymore… he told me to go faster!! What do you do? Put the trowel in your hand and fold your fingers around it. I found myself doing weird project gluing; on walls, on stairs, gluing up and down airplane ramps. To this day, I still have my gluing calluses and haven’t touched a floor in more than seven years. Eventually, I found myself doing everything else in the trade. I look for these stages of repetition in every new project, especially with Bjj.
- Accomplishment. Can you do it?
- Be Effective Consistently Under Stress. Can we depend on you to do it?
- Efficiency. Are you wasting energy? Time? Resources?
- Sustainability. How is your body going to hold up long term using your current methods?
- Quality/Productivity Balance. Are you meeting your specific goals?