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Honesty Is The Best Policy

We’ve heard it from our parents for as long as our memory can recall; and in the religious aspect, it’s even written off as a sin (Mom and Dad made sure to remind us of that too). In modern society, social media has given people the biggest outlet to portray what isn’t and over-exaggerate what is. People may not go to the full extent of lying and making false statements, but omitting the truth sounds an awful lot like the same thing.

The founders and old school generation of jiu-jitsu practitioners never had to worry about creating and keeping false images. Those who were about it and those who weren’t, were always exposed on the mats. Back then, social media (if any), was seen as a useful tool for its intended networking purposes, not for flexing. It seems now that the new generation is highly dependent on the number of followers they have, and the recognition from others on their work is more important that the work itself. The need for their achievements to be validated by outside forces is a rabbit hole that is incredibly tedious to get out of.

Anyone who knows me personally, knows about my brutal honesty. Especially in relation to the most important component of my life, jiu-jitsu. I am unapologetically honest to those I care about, for in harsh truths you will find growth; and that’s all a real friend should be about, wanting you to grow and be the best version of yourself. This, of course, can and is often misinterpreted by those who aren’t ready to become self-aware.

I have often expressed my utter distaste for the lack of honesty trends that follow every jiu-jitsu tournament. You see it time and time again, the hype months and weeks prior to every fight or tournament, and the complete silence after it has passed with no explanation or details. (selective memory at its finest, I like to call it.) Or the most reoccurring one, the in-front-of-podium picture flexing medals that were guaranteed, making the followers believe you didn’t just get your ass handed to you in every match, or that there was no one else in your division. (I warned ya’ll about the brutal honesty.)

But psychologically speaking, what is it exactly? Is it the need for validation? Wanting to be the next big thing? Or the social media effect of seeing others’ achievements and wanting a taste of the glory?

The positive psychology technique of thinking “at least I signed up and showed up” has long been used, and sadly now over-used. Let’s be real, no one pays 120 + travel expenses and shoots for losing their first match only to learn. The experience is great, and losses will teach you more than wins ever will; but none of it means anything if you are not self-aware. Self-aware enough to openly admit to yourself and others that maybe your technical abilities are flawed and need adjustments, you were out of shape, didn’t train hard/smart enough, didn’t put enough time in, or didn’t eat as healthy as you should of. How else can you learn from a loss than by extracting from it the painful truths? English writer and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton once said, “The easiest person to deceive is oneself.”

Ultimately, the hardest thing to do is be mindful about the things we do and why we do them. It is by no means an easy task but it’s of utmost importance to be honest not only to others, but primarily with oneself in order to progress. At the end of the day, the truth we hold most strongly is that action speaks louder than words. The best athletes are the ones that hold themselves accountable for their faults, can look themselves in the mirror and fight another day.

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