The Path to Success: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

 The Path to Success: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

by: Daniel Frank


It has been a very long time since I have watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I can remember the black and white scenes as a tornado rips through the Kansas countryside and lifts Dorothy’s house into the sky and away to colorful Oz. The house lands on a witch and inspires the Munchkins to celebrate in the streets and then send Dorothy on her way with one piece of solid advice, “Follow the yellow brick road”. Throughout her journey Dorothy encounters trials and tribulations, but by staying on the Yellow Brick Road she finds her way to the Wizard and eventually, home. Using the idea of the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ as a pathway to success, the jiu jitsu competitor can find the path to victory and success even in the most dire of times.

What is your Yellow Brick Road?

I ask all of my students who desire to compete to describe their perfect match. From start to finish. The moment the referee welcomes the competitors out onto the mat. The hand slap and the fist bump. The sequence that takes the match to the ground, to dominating the position, to the finishing submission, to the smile on their face as their hand is raised above their head and the gold medal is placed around their neck. That perfect match becomes that competitor’s ‘Yellow Brick Road’. By staying the course and taking one step at a time the competitor gets closer and closer to meeting the Wizard, or in jiu jitsu terms, getting a victory and winning the gold medal.

Pitfalls and Obstacles

    Dorothy and Toto found it very difficult to stay on the Yellow Brick Road due to all of the distractions they came across. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion all took Dorothy’s attention away from her ultimate goal. The Wicked Witch of the West cast spells and sent the Flying Monkeys to sabotage and thwart Dorothy’s journey. Your jiu jitsu and your opponent’s jiu jitsu will attempt to do the same thing to you. You have the path that you have chosen to follow, but with all of the jiu jitsu knowledge you have retained over the years it is hard not to want to diverge from your path and take any of the many other paths that open up to you. Stay the course, trust in the path you have chosen, and follow it to victory. Your opponents have their own ‘yellow brick roads’. They will constantly try to make you walk on their path. This will probably be the hardest test in your journey. Can you stop taking your opponent’s path and get back onto your own? You will have to nullify your opponent’s attacks, recompose yourself, and find your way back to your route to victory. Remember that your opponent will not stop trying to put you onto their path until time runs out or you get those three taps out of them.

The Man Behind the Curtain

Once Dorothy eliminated her opponent and made her way back to the Palace of Oz she found disappointment and disillusion. The Wizard of Oz was, in fact, a hoax. Dorothy could not depend on him, but had to find her way home all by herself. The pathway to the podium will be the same for you. You cannot depend on others to get you onto the podium. Your coach, your teammates, and your friends and family provide support. However, to get onto the top of the podium you must do the hard work yourself. You have traveled the path, avoided the pitfalls, and now is the time for your reward.

Not every jiu jitsu tournament that you do will play out like the script of a Hollywood movie. However, if you keep the ‘script’ of your tournament simple and move from start (fist bump) to finish (gold medal) as quickly and simply as possible, then the results will speak for themselves. You will find yourself atop the podium congratulating yourself for a job well done.

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