As I scan the mats on yet another Monday, I see a random accumulation of people who have all come together to sweat on each other, attempt to strangle one another and in general try to wrap their heads around the ever-continuing enigma that is Grappling.
Fresh faced beginners trying to coerce their bodies into executing correct details, seasoned vets maintaining and extending their understanding, even the ghostly apparitions of long since retired blue belts on occasion (no one is certain whether their ghosts haunt the mats or if they are actually there). We come in with the hopes of sweating out the weekend’s booze, nursing that kiwi summer sun burn back from the brink of melanoma, or for the one training of the month to punch down on the newbies to get your rocks off, before escaping without any tough rolls (you know who you are). Whoever it may be, there is no way to duck the suck. Another day on the mats, another day embracing the suck.
‘The Suck’ is not a term used by the jaded or PTSD-ridden grappler, but one I was introduced to by Raf Esparza. ‘The Suck’ is about eating that shit sandwich, day in and out, gritting your teeth & bearing the grind despite the filth you find yourself wading through to get to anywhere remotely worthwhile.
You can’t duck it, you can’t hide from it. If you want to be successful then welcome to The Suck.
There are no shortcuts and cheat codes when it comes to this, you’re going to have to accept the shit stuff if you want to get to the good stuff.
Like some kind of moody teen, I find myself feeling indignant and brooding when I see people trying to duck the suck.
“Oh, you think you’re smart enough to get around this? Watch this wise ass.”Queue me, stage left, proceeding to get my ass handed to me by the hardest training partner I can grab. This is The Suck.
A few times too often you will see people trying to validate themselves by ‘punching down’ on people with less experience than themselves, like some twisted version of Mike Hosking who wasn’t too scared to ruin his manicure with any kind of physical exercise. This is a weak attempt to duck The Suck; getting your jollies beating up a newbie, then promptly leave before hevenge can be exacted by anyone with more experience. Pretty sure this qualifies as some kind of bully mentality… If you’re sitting there thinking “shit, is this me?” it may be time to re-address the way you look at the world. There is nothing worse than a bully, except maybe for someone who isn’t prepared to face the consequences of their actions. If you’re ducking, the mats are going to show it. I don’t know if karma is real, but that ass beating you’ve been avoiding is and it’s gonna find you eventually.
You need to learn to love it. You need to embrace The Suck like a B.A student embraces discount liquor mid-week. I can make that joke because I am a B.A student.
Regardless of the precious metal that forms the spoon in your mouth, you can learn to spit it out. There is no point looking for someone to coddle you through training or give you a gold star for chasing gym taps like you’re collecting the dragon balls. Give yourself over to The Suck, shut your mouth and work as hard (or harder) than everyone else who has already stopped complaining.
This is starting to turn into a rant, but this writer has long since abandoned the importance of that tone. What’s important is understanding that pretending to work hard is never going to take you as far as those legitimately working hard; the ones who have embraced The Suck.
The Suck knows all. You can run, but you can’t duck.
Thanks for reading.