Introduction: The unifying Idea of the book
I’ve written a book about one thought and that thought keeps coming back to me, and that is the more you study something, the more you give and sacrifice for your passions, the more you learn about life--the more your passion “transforms” you. Whatever your passion is, whatever you invest time in learning or doing, the more you’ll learn about life, and the more you’ll realize that that thing is connected in some way to everything else. Borrowing the Master’s Bicycle is a book about how one thing can be tied to everything. How jiu-jitsu can be used to understand our world and ourselves.
I realize that jiu-jitsu is just a martial art, but the more I teach, the more I try to understand it; the more I end up learning about myself, about people, and ultimately about the universe. I know it sounds strange—a little nutty. Believe me I’m in touch with reality, but I believe that the wise people of the world have devoted themselves to something, maybe one thing, and through that devotion have come away with a certain knowledge, something they have discovered for themselves, whether it’s the monk, or the surfer, or the painter, or the grappler, or the bike rider; the universe will reveal its secrets to the devotees, to the students and life learners, to the people who are passionate and unwavering in their devotion to their passions, and they will begin to see their world defined by the arts that they practice.
I’ve been out of school for almost two decades and I’ve learned a lot in high school and in college, but I’ve learned more about me, on the mat. Jiu-jitsu for me is church; it’s a way to connect to the universe. I think if you train long enough you get passed the techniques and the movement and you find that the art we practice has a soul. It teaches us more than chokes and joint locks, within in it are the secrets of how to live life and if we listen we will learn. This book is not about the tangible techniques of jiu-jitsu. You will not find concrete equations on training or how to apply the perfect omoplata, but what you might find is a little bit of yourself and some insight into why you cannot stop practicing jiu-jitsu, why it’s so important to you.
My daughter once told me that I could compare jiu-jitsu to anything, she was actually being a smart aleck, but she was right, I can compare jiu-jitsu to anything, because the concepts and principles in jiu-jitsu are universal. This book is about jiu-jitsu of course, but other things as well, things that I’ve attached jiu-jitsu to, things that at first glance may not seem to be related to jiu-jitsu but definitely are. All things in the universe fit within the Arte Suave. Whether it‘s Darth Vader or sloths or William Shakespeare, or bicycles; those things teach us about jiu-jitsu and jiu-jitsu teaches us about them. This is what this book is about, the myriad of things that we’re exposed to by the study and the following of one thing, of borrowing our master’s bicycle, of using jiu-jitsu to understand ourselves, each other, and the universe.