Posted by: paulkonasewich | August 1, 2009

Listening and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

pan_2006_08After years of searching for a place to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, last year I finally found one—Peninsula Jiu Jitsu in Foster City. From the minute I walked in the door, I was warmly welcomed. And in the first week, it became very clear that this was a place that emphasized a collaborative approach to learning.

From what I hear, in many gyms the new guys just get “pummeled on,” so to speak, until they either get good enough or they leave. But Peninsula is really different. The more experienced guys take a certain pride in showing the new people how things are done. I think this comes straight from Marco, who founded the gym– it’s learning as a group effort.

And so perhaps it’s no surprise that I’ve found my listening skills to be extremely valuable in this type of a learning environment. Here there are very experienced practitioners who are eager to share their knowledge about the sport and who want to see me improve.

Yet there are a number of ways that I could screw this up. One way is simply by not paying enough attention while they are explaining something to me. What I find is that by giving my full attention to a purple belt who is telling me all about how to “pass the guard” I’m showing him respect and I’m also encouraging him to tell me more.

Another way I could screw it up is by being argumentative about what I’m being told. I could be skeptical in terms of what actually works. Instead, I assume that he’s telling me this for a good reason, I assume that it’s worked for him before, and I get very curious to really understand what’s being explained to me. And again this respect has a magical effect in that the senior guys in the gym who like to explain things are willing to help me out time and time again.

Just today I was working with Eric, who was recently promoted to purple belt, and he was doing a fantastic job of teaching me some of the basics. I realized partway through that I was actually using the WIG in interacting with him. He would explain something for a minute or two, and then I’d repeat back to him what I understood about it. And sometimes I was right on the mark, and sometimes he would further refine what I’d said, so that I really understood the core of it.

I have to admit that I’m just thrilled to see that my work on Supportive Listening is showing results in other areas of my life.

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