This week’s powerful word of the week is, Rectitude. Rectitude has three main definitions:
1. the quality or state of being straight
2. moral integrity; righteousness
3. the quality or state of being correct in judgment or procedure
Rectitude is a word that is not commonly used in our everyday discourse. In fact I don’t think I have ever heard it used. The question is how do we take the word rectitude and then apply it on the mat? There are two main ways that i feel the word rectitude can apply on and off the mat.
No one can truly roll live with unimpeachable rectitude, but in my opinion this should be our goal. Why would you want to learn something if not to try and learn it perfectly! Our application of what we learn will always fall short of perfect. Rectitude is a concept that we should always strive for. There are two distinct concepts on the mat that you will always be perfecting. One is your situational awareness. This is the ability to define the situation that you find yourself in while rolling live with a partner or opponent. The second would the application of a technique that you decide on. These two concepts feed each other. The situation you find yourself in will determine the techniques that are viable options. The better your situational awareness is, the better your chance of successfully sweeping, passing, escaping, or submitting your partner/opponent becomes. For example, if you find yourself on top of your partner/opponent, you have to be able to determine what situation you are in. Are you in Closed Guard, Half Guard, Spider Guard, Octopus Guard, De La Riva Guard, or etc…? Once you determine the guard, let’s say Half Guard, then you must determine the details of the position. Does your partner have an underhook? Is your partner on their side or are they flat? Is your partner holding your leg preparing for an entry into deep half? I could go on and on but, once you have determined the position then you must apply the correct technique to counter your partners/opponents game. As your Situational awareness grows then your investment in your techniques increases. Thus your game begins to grow. Progress is inevitable. One aspect about this process that i see far too often is; students don’t always strive for rectitude. Success can be your greatest obstacle to achieving rectitude in your game. Just because something works doesn’t mean that you performed that particular technique perfect. Rectitude is never truly achieved. On the mat don’t stop striving for rectitude in your game. Drill the situations that give you trouble and also the ones that you feel are good. Purposefully put yourself in the positions during a live roll or start the roll from a specific trouble spot.
One other thing that i want to touch on that i normally don’t is off the mat. When you learn an art like Jiu Jitsu you have to hold yourself to a higher level of rectitude. We train to abstain. As your journey with jiu jitsu unfolds you begin to be molded into a better version of yourself. You find an inner strength that you might have never known was there, but this empowerment can corrupt. In some students I have seen the bullied become the bully before. This is not so uncommon because absolute power, corrupts absolutely. I have said before just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Our journey is not just to train or bodies but to also train our minds. Sometime this means reteaching ourselves how we should respond to certain stimuli. For kids maybe its becoming more inclusive. For adults it might be how you respond to your significant other. Don’t think just because you get better at passing guard or rear naked chokes that it will all of a sudden make you a better person. You have to apply the concepts that you learn on the mat to your everyday life. The search for rectitude doesn’t begin and end on the mat, NO. It might start on the mat but my goal is to have it spill out into your life off of the mat.
Professor Jason Yerrington