Got Passion?

This weekend I was surrounded by scores of people who are passionate about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. On Saturday, my friends Emily Kwok and Art Keintz threw a grand opening party to celebrate the move of their baby, Princeton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, into a fantastic new space. On Sunday, I received a warm welcome from Team Link in Ludlow, MA, for an open mat and support of my book, Training Wheels, about my adventures traveling to different jiu-jitsu academies around North America during a road trip I took 10 years ago now.

It was a weekend of training, laughing, greeting old friends and meeting new ones, and feeling so stinking fortunate that I have found an activity that gives me so much fulfillment. It was easy to be among these people because I did not have to explain jiu-jitsu or what I love about it, or why I would choose to do this over anything else I could be doing on a gorgeous fall weekend. Everyone at these events understood. No one questioned it, though many of us made wry comments about our persistent injuries and gnarled fingers.

It was nice to be in the position of enjoying without having to justify. I do understand that to the outside observer jiu-jitsu can look weird and smell weirder, and I am always happy to defend its honor. What can get tiresome is the judgment from some people who do not train. I can see in their faces or hear in their silences that they disapprove of jiu-jitsu or are made uncomfortable by it, either the amount of time I spend training or the nature of the activity itself.

Not everyone who does not train is judgmental, of course. My friends and family are supportive of me no matter what cockamamie antics I get up to, for instance. They have come to expect that from me by now. I have also discovered that most people who do not find my passion for training to be off-putting or inappropriate tend to have a passion of their own.

In other words, I can have an inspiring conversation with someone who is passionate about horseback riding, even though I am not, because while the nature of the passion may differ, the energy, excitement, and motivation are similar. I used to joke that I felt bad for anyone who did not train, but I do feel a bit of compassion for people who do not have a passion. It does not have to be jiu-jitsu, of course, but I believe everyone could benefit from bringing an activity into their lives that really energizes them, whether it is work, a sport, an artistic pursuit, or something else.

Are you looking for passion? Do you have questions about striking a balance between your athletic activities and your “normal” life? Navigating relationships as you pursue your athletic goals? Setting those goals and creating effective strategies for meeting them? Contact me at  or visit to learn more about how we can work on those issues together.