The Unsung Hero… How do you Measure Greatness

7 min read
Is greatness a number, time, an amount, or something more?

The Unsung Hero… How do you Measure Greatness

Is greatness a number, time, an amount, or something more? 

Location: New Zealand

It’s a societal thing, isn’t it? We praise wealth. We crave success. We admire those that have elevated themselves beyond the realms of that dreaded word “normal” to have reached out and touched greatness. It’s pretty natural if you’ve ever been lucky enough to be in the same room as one of your heroes or somebody society deems famous.

You will attest to having feelings closer to those you probably felt back when your first crush acknowledged your existence. Even if you haven’t felt that yourself, you are sure to have witnessed others heap praise upon an individual and behaving in a manner somewhat outside themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with this; every community has its heroes. They inspire us to push beyond what we believe we are capable of. They give us something to aim for. But what if, in our folly, we have forgotten to place another archetype upon the preverbal pedestal?

Who, you ask? The unsung hero, I say!

The unsung hero works a 40+ hour week. The unsung hero has kids that bid for all of the attention they can get. The unsung hero has a relationship that requires energy and upkeep like everything else. The unsung hero may themselves or have dependents with afflictions that require time and patience.

The unsung hero wakes early or stays late to complete the strength and conditioning that allows them to apply the techniques they have acquired in their journey. With all of these modern world head-boggling demands on time and energy, the unsung hero manages to make it to training X times a week. They have managed to stick out the arduousness of Jiu-Jitsu long enough to achieve some degree of proficiency and ranking. They have almost certainly battled through all of this with injuries and most probably with other areas of life demanding more than they have to give from them.

But still, they show up time and time again quietly chipping away, indulging whatever drives them to be there. Every club has at least one unsung hero. You probably have some names in mind as you read this article.

Ask any champion out there undertaking any endeavor “what it takes?” and they will respond unanimously, “Sacrifice!”… It takes sacrifice to be great at BJJ. It takes sacrifice to be great at anything. But we so often think of this word sacrifice in one context only—the giving up of everything in pursuit of the one thing.

However, I would challenge you to think broader than this when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu’s unsung hero. See, the unsung hero of Jiu-Jitsu knows all about sacrifice. They have made sacrifices in every area of their lives, often to achieve a balance in life many don’t realize they are envious of. For some, it may be in the area of competition. I know plenty of fine practitioners that would surely do amazing on the local stage, perhaps even the international. But the “all in” nature of competition is often sighted as the drip that forces the cup to overflow. So sacrifice is made, not out of fear of failure but perhaps awareness of balance.

For some, it may not be competition, but the amount of time they can be on the mat during a given week, Jiu-Jitsu, with its addictive nature, can be hugely persuasive in its beckoning call. I’m sure plenty of relationships have felt the strain of the seductive mistress that is Jiu-Jitsu. Although I’m almost certain to the uninitiated or civilians as I like to call them, this must sound like a hilarious argument, if you know you know.

By making room on that pedestal for our unsung heroes, do we not keep our art healthy? Isn’t the whole point of Jiu-Jitsu that the average person has a chance? Isn’t that why we all started? I love that BJJ has grown so big and that we have untold amounts of stars. That Jiu-Jitsu has grown big enough to attract legitimate athletes. I love that the level is constantly being pushed to ever greater heights and that Jiu-Jitsu’s infinite nature is being explored fearlessly.

I also think it’s wise to really praise our unsung heroes. They are often, at the club level, our core; they are the lifeblood of Jiu-Jitsu and, for many, the financial backbone that allows there to be “Heroes.”

Perhaps this Unsung hero is you?



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