It’s raining here in NJ this morning. Rain always makes me seem to ponder life. I am not really sure why but it allows me to connect, slow down, and relax a bit. I owe so much to my Jiu Jitsu brothers and sisters, the family I have on the mat, my instructor, my friends. It has completely changed who I am as a person. For the better.
I have been training a little under 5 years in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or in some circles it is called the Gentle Art. It has taught me a great many things. It’s not just an effective ground fighting / grappling self defense system, not just a sport, it’s not just a way to subdue a person and render them unconscious.
It is much more than that.
Jiu Jitsu to me is an instructor of life.
It’s lessons span so much further than the mat, it’s lessons teach you how to live in a world that is chaotic. It through hard training, and dedication affords you the ability to become comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings of an ever changing world.
When broken down it is a series of moves, strategy and thought process, graceful as can be, controlling as can be or lethal if must be. Besides the physical portion of Jiu Jitsu the mental portion is a huge part of it. One may say the mental portion of it is more difficult than the physical portion of it. At least for me it was.
Unlike other training such as strength training you go through a sort of internal test. This test reveals a huge part of who you are. Ultimately it reveals it to yourself. The battle you will fight in Jiu Jitsu is an internal battle more so than an another opponent.
Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us. It is in this fatigue and tiredness that you start to learn who you really are. You see Jiu Jitsu has the ability to pull back the mask. The bravado, the guise we often go around living life with. It makes us vulnerable, it shines a light on your weakness. If you are passive it makes you pay for it, if you are overbearing and wild, when faced with a more technical opponent you will also pay. It takes who you are and reveals to you what is hiding underneath.
I have trained a bunch of different martial arts, and boxing in my life. Anyone can learn to hit pads, and sound impressive. It is certainly a great thing to know how to strike. Not taking anything away from the striking arts, but the truth is no one wants to be the nail. Getting hammered daily, crushed under an opponents weight, tapped out repeatedly. It takes a certain individual to continue to put themselves in these vulnerable positions day after day, week after week month after month to get good. And that is exactly what you need to do to get good at jiu jitsu.
There are 3 major things Jiu Jitsu has taught me:
1) Being comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Repeatedly being smashed and placed in chokes, or having an opponent mount you and try to rip a limb off, becomes second nature. You become OK with the unknown. You become prepared for whatever is next even though you don’t know what is next. I think we as people spend most of our lives trying to guess what is next, we try to organize our surroundings, our routines, so we can get a semblance of normalcy. However we live in a chaotic world where we can’t even remotely guess what is next. Jiu Jitsu affords us the ability to sit in the midst of the storm, and not panic. Since training Jiu Jitsu I have become 10 times less stressed, much more focused, a better person all around. I used to be hot headed and high strung, quick to freak out on someone who cut me off. It has allowed me the small sliver of peace in my life, to not get upset with others difference of opinion and respect others much much more.
It helps in releasing you from the bonds of ego. Most people are controlled by their ego. If you contest their ideals their very essence becomes threatened. They will do all sorts of crazy things. The internet exasperates this behavior. People will guard their ego and their thought pattern violently. Mainly this is because they don’t know themselves, they never really learned about themselves. They have spent SO much time worrying about the world around them and little time learning how THEY actually work. Jiu jitsu puts the focus on you. You can’t fake it on the mat. It will expose you.
“If you wish to control others you must first control yourself” – Miyamoto Mushasi
2) There is winning, and there is learning
Another amazing thing that Jiu Jitsu has taught me is that there is no real losing on the mat, or in life. Everything that happens to you is a challenge. Good or bad. You can learn to win, or you can learn through losing. But you are always learning. Especially when you lose. You start to learn why. For me for a long time I was extremely too passive. Allowing my opponent to get me into a bad position and then work to get out of it. Instead I needed to learn and still am learning not to allow myself to GET into that bad position. This carries over into business and my personal life. It has completely changed the way I look at the world.
3) There is an internal war going on inside you.
On the mat there is 3 battles going on. You against your opponent, you against your self, your opponent against himself. While you are training, you are battling, fatigue, your own mind telling you to give up, quit now, or to fight, you are feeling triumphant in one minute and vulnerable the next, there is a war of emotions going on at all times. It is through this war that you grow. You can not grow in your comfort zone, dealing with this war daily has made me a better person, sure I am not perfect but perfection is not what is aimed at, progress is what is the goal is.
One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’
If you like this blog, please share or comment. There are many schools you can try BJJ out at, you would be surprised with the lack of ego and the friendliness of most of the brothers and sisters on the mat. IF you are in the central NJ area I ask you to come down to our school, it is a wonderful environment to train at and you will be welcomed greatly check it out and come down for a class. Elite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Watch this amazing video with Saulo Ribiero