How training in Trifecta taught me to be a better person.

I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 5 years, and have done so at Trifecta for 2. Prior to joining the school, I had skipped through a few other academies in Singapore, hoping to find one to call home. To date, I have stayed the longest at Trifecta, and many would ask why. Is it because Trifecta offers the best facilities in the market, has the most decorated instructors, or offers the most solid curriculum for BJJ competitors who want to become world champions? Well not really. But it is right here in the past 2 years that I have grown to become a better version of myself, both as a practitioner and individual, than I ever had before. Here’s what I learned.

1. It’s not always about my own success.

Since my first experience as a young white belt, I’ve relished the thrill of being on the competition mats. Even more so, I’ve loved to win. (Who doesn’t?) For a long time, BJJ competitions were my priority as a practitioner, and I didn’t like the idea of losing to anyone. So I put in work doggedly, along with a tinge of paranoia that if I wasn’t training everyday, or if I was being beat by my teammates during class, it meant I was bad - and hence worthless.
Then I started to spend more time around the community in Trifecta and I found most of the regulars to be ordinary, humble, and good-natured folk who wanted nothing more than to get fit and enjoy the discovery of martial arts with friends. The concept of outdoing each other was hardly existent, unlike at previous gyms I had trained at. The Trifecta community is diverse in age group, ethnicity, and background. And in spite of all our differences, there is so much acceptance and celebration of each other. Slowly, the desire to make it all about my individual success waned off. What became of greater importance to me was journeying with this family.
I still like winning and doing well. But the focus on myself has dispersed into a desire to seeing all of my friends at the gym do well. And when I, or someone else, do well - everyone relishes it as their own success. What a team.

 Photo: Grapple Asia

Photo: Grapple Asia

2. Blessed are those surrounded by a community that gives more than is required.

I mentioned above that the community in Trifecta is extremely supportive and inclusive. Over the two years, I started to observe the generosity and grace of the Trifecta community. We don’t draw lines between management and members. When an instructor was suddenly out sick, or had to attend to a family matter, a senior belt was always ready to take over and oversee a class. When the Bukit Timah school shifted a few doors down to a smaller facility, students were ready to help with the moving of equipment, and even to get the new facility up and running. It’s not that our management forced the team to help out. From Day One, I saw the eagerness of our regulars to stick around and see Trifecta succeed, without asking for anything in return. This is a rare trait that is almost never seen in other organisations, where there is a clear line drawn between the business and its patrons. Some might see it as a sign of weakness - I see it as loyalty that cannot be bought with money, page likes, influence, or accolade. It’s a pretty special thing.
Under the influence of this proactive community, I, too, helped wherever I could. This gave me a great sense of ownership over seeing the school succeed, and it brought me closer to the team and the management. I started to see how much more rewarding this was than trying to ‘make it on my own’ as a competitor. I started to love the idea of building a community, for the sake of a community.
This year, I decided to take over a project to grow the female BJJ community in Singapore. It was so natural, this love and desire to make it happen. I realised that if not for all the training that Trifecta had given me, I would probably not care about growing a community as much as I do today.

3. Coaching and mentoring helps you more than you’ll ever know.

 Perks of teaching: Your birthday is an excuse for a party and cake.

Perks of teaching: Your birthday is an excuse for a party and cake.

Last year, I was asked to help out in a kids class due to an emergency manpower issue. I’d handled kids before, so I said yes quite readily. It has since catapulted me into a new world of BJJ discovery. I have the chance to teach about two to three classes a week today, and  have since realised that teaching has refined so many details in my own game. I am forced to explore the deeper detail of each position and break them down easily for the young ones, and this in turned has helped me get better.
My recommendation for anyone who wants to get better at BJJ, especially as a competitor, is to start finding opportunities to assist in kids classes. Not only does it improve your own technique, but it also teaches you to be more compassionate, patient, and giving. So much win all around.

4. Everyone’s different. And everyone’s flawed. But they are still worthy of love, respect, and a second chance.

When Trifecta underwent a transition last year, I suffered a period of uncertainty over continuing my training here. During this period, there were a few new gyms popping up all around Singapore and I knew that I could find much better training elsewhere. But what stopped me from leaving was the fact that this community had accepted me with open arms from Day One. When I first entered Trifecta, I was self-centred, immature, insecure and turbulent. Yet, I was given the space to grow up and find myself.
See, every individual in this world has shortcomings and their own personal demons to contend with. And every business, no matter how strong on the outside, will go through seasons of internal struggle and transition. That’s just the way the world works for as long as human beings exist. 
But it’s our choice to recognise that just as we were given the chance to figure things out, others deserve the same chance.
And because of what was done for me, I choose to give others that chance.

Thank you, Trifecta Martial Arts, for teaching me to be more than just another good BJJ practitioner.