“Don’t Accept!!!”

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber


“Don’t Accept!!!” Words you can expect to hear at any BJJ tournament. This may be one of the absolute pillars of the sport, with a nod to the arguments you can make that it applies to sports in general. Like I’ve previously written about, you can teach heart.

The image that pops to mind for me is that of someone about to get their guard passed, thrashing and posting and bridging with everything they have to escape the person working just as hard to hold their hips. I can almost hear “DON’T ACCEPT” being screamed in a Brazilian accent. It’s a brilliant scene at the height of BJJ battle.

It applies to every moment that something is about to change that matters. That chance you have to say “NO” to a sweep or fall over with a grimace on your face. The pass. Trying to stay on your side. The triangle you’ve almost locked but you just can’t get your hips to a place where it’s really done. These battles are magic. Calvin (& Hobbes)’ dad would probably say they build character.

You’re fighting for something in each of these Don’t Accept moments. What gets better as you get better is the endurance of non-acceptance. It’s easy to see the big spotlights I mentioned above. What leads up to every one of them are a lot of little battles that you might have been able to try just a little bit harder to win. But you accept, and accept, and accept, and suddenly you find someone’s hand at your throat and your chances of escaping are next to nil.

Think about this in your daily life. What are the things that you accept, and accept, and accept, until one day you feel completely dug in and see no chance of escape? Is Jiu-Jitsu your escape from what you’ve created on the outside? How can you start bleeding the lessons you’ve learned on the mat into a happier life overall? Who do you know that doesn’t even have Jiu-Jitsu to balance them?

I help people’s joints work better, an ironic twist on my mat alter-ego in which I’m supposedly trying to make their joints much worse. The people that need my services the most are the people that have accepted a slow decline for a very long time. Can you squat without pain? Can you get up from a chair without pushing with your arms? Can you sit on the floor without groaning about it (I hope so if you’re a Jiu-Jitsu person!)? Then you’re better off than many of my clients. Save accident or some kind of trauma, our bodies will pretty much stay in motion as long as we keep them in motion. Your muscles and joints were crafted over millions of years to serve a purpose – to move in any way you need them to. They are crafted every day by what you ask of them. More importantly they are shaped by what you don’t ask of them. Your astoundingly complex brain that brain experts admit we know virtually nothing about is capable of doing anything in the world. If you never test your mind it will accept and function at the level you ask of it too.

There is always hope. Your cells, brain, and body are changing all the time according to what you ask of them. If you start asking more, they will respond. You’ll learn and grow gradually if you just keep trying. I’ve often toyed with the idea of filming new students during their first week and showing it to them on their third to fifth week. I think they would be shocked at the difference in such a short time.

What are you accepting that is slowly dragging you down? Where are you settling? If you’re perfectly happy then this message isn’t for you. Take your training out into the real world. Identify what you want and turn in that direction. Little by little, you’ll find there is always an escape. What can you do RIGHT NOW to help yourself?