Next Wednesday my son will make his MMA debut in Amman, Jordan. It’s curious how something apparently banal can affect us so much.
During this brief stay on Jordanian soil to check out the inaugural Desert Fight Championship event, I took the opportunity to check out the Dead Sea for the first time since my first visit thirty years ago.
It brought back a lot of memories. When I was seven, I stayed at the opposite bank, where my father was born. And as memories bring back more memories, I started remembering some things I went through with my late father. I started to remember the challenges he faced since he was young in a refugee camp and later his premature and solitary emigration to Brazil, at just seventeen years of age.
Furthermore, I instantly recovered the teachings of my first master, my father. Perhaps that is why we have so much respect and admiration for our Jiu-Jitsu masters, as they end up filling a void left when we part ways from our parents.
Now I see myself filling this role, that of father and master. My nephew, who is a son to me, is named Gabriel Tayeh and he will have his first fight ever, at Desert Fight. I used to think that when this moment came I would be merely concerned with his performance in the ring, since a lot will be at stake. The proof of how effective the Jiu-Jitsu I taught him is. His representing a flag. The value of courage. Indeed, attributes that will be exposed in the ring. However, all that takes to the background for me now.
The thing that most concerns me isn’t the result, but how the art influenced his life. Thanks to Jiu-Jitsu, we managed to polish the kid up and I can see he is confident in the midst of life’s challenges, whether in a literal fight or whether it is an even greater challenge than that.
Now, I clearly understand that we should not show our sons and students the paths they should take, but the way they should take them. After all, life chooses the paths for us.
You may have an excellent guard, but your opponent may pull guard first, so you’d better pass or run the risk of being swept. That’s why on countless occasions masters Carlos and Helio Gracie publicly stated that Jiu-Jitsu is the “savior of the youth,” since the art does indeed have the capacity to prepare our children for life.
Jiu-Jitsu is one of the greatest legacies we can leave for our students, as it teaches, either directly or indirectly, the gentle art of dealing with any challenge, in or out of the academy. It’s a wonderful sensation to see our students at the top of the podium, but even better to see them winners of the hard art of living.