But what has impressed me most is how the family makes a connection with you from day one and brings you into the Gracie family. It is a very intentional process and I believe that all of us in the Church can learn a thing or two from the Gracie's.
The process starts by showing you how life would be without Gracie Jiu jitsu. They then show you how everyone can easily learn GJJ no matter what your status in life. They begin by letting you understand that there are only 36 techniques that you need to learn in order to be able to protect yourself. All these techniques are learned in any order and on your schedule that fits into your life. Once you master these 36 techniques and their 72 variations you earn a blue belt and are well on your way to a life in the GJJ family. By now you feel a part of something special, you are encouraged to enjoy a lifetime of mastering GJJ while you progress through the various belts on your way to black belt. It is understood that this will take many years if training continues and you work hard at the process.
I went through this process to blue belt and continued training and in July was certified as an instructor in GJJ (probationary). It was a long and tough process but it culminated with a trip to California to a live evaluation by the Gracie family. Throughout this process you were treated as a special member of the family. I learned to live the GJJ life and project the vibe of the Gracie family. I now must prove my proficiency as an instructor by sending back videos of me teaching classes, I must also develop one person to the level of blue belt within one year. This proves that I have the skills to lead another person in the art of Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
The amazing thing is the Gracie's believe in this process and live a life immersed and full of Jiu Jitsu. It is who they are. They eat, sleep, and breathe GJJ and it is a family affair. The children are involved in all areas of the academy. Children join the father in the middle of class. Husbands and wives are working together and they invite you into their lives, to be a part of the family. They teach you personally and one on one, they spend time in deliberate play (fun activities together away from GJJ) with you. After my time in LA at the academy I am more motivated than ever to learn and grow in GJJ. I feel I am part of something larger than me. I feel connected to an amazing family and I am proud to share the art of Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
Now, it seems like this is a rambling about GJJ and you are right! But now, go back and read my experience from the perspective of discipleship. Just replace GJJ with a "disciple of Jesus Christ". Just imagine what would happen in the Church today if we approached our life as a disciple and our connection to the church and one another in the same way. Why are we so lazy about our faith walk that has greater consequences? What would happen if we had a system just like the Gracie system in the Church? I know walking around with different colored belts might seem strange, but belt ranks do motivate and work well to mark progress. But what if we just began to look at our life as a disciple as something we have to develop and train for. Something we should be setting goals for ourselves. Counting the number of disciples we are developing. What if we had to prove our proficiency and be responsible for developing one other disciple in the next year? How would this change your life and faith journey?
If we approached our discipleship journey in the same way as the Gracie's approach Jiu Jitsu I believe the Church would be in a totally different place than it is today! Now, go learn, train and be a disciple who makes disciples!
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