Life Lessons From Jiu-jitsu

Most of us think about the techniques when we consider the question of what we learn through training Jiu-Jitsu. I recently watched a jiu-jitsu documentary which featured interviews with many different high level competitors talking about their lives in the art.

read also:17 Great Quotes for Jiu-Jitsu Inspiration

Perhaps the most interesting was the way they described how lessons learned on the mat translated and were applicable to real life. Now, I am not going to come out with any esoteric, ancient Kung Fu master wisdom here. Perhaps Master Carlos Gracie Jr. said it best when he shared the Gracie Barra School Mission Statement:

“We seek to train body, mind and spirit through the highest level of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction. 
We envision the art as a vehicle for individual development and the strengthening of the family spirit, 
going beyond the winning-losing or contest philosophy.”

What does Jiu-jitsu teach us for life?

1) Solving problems

Jiu-jitsu rolling is all about solving problems. Ok, you are in a tough spot…now what are you going to do to improve your position? In a roll we do not stop and give up after getting our guard passed or an opponent escapes. We turn our mind to what we need to do next. We learn not to malinger on the lost position…we immediately think of what to do next?

2) Taking on complex challenges

When beginners start learning jiu-jitsu they are staggered by the complexity of bjj and may feel overwhelmed by the colossal amount of information they need to learn. After a while of sticking to it, they see that what they thought was impossible is now within their understanding. The steady, persistent application of effort will enable us to learn ANYTHING complex (a new language, a college course or new software program) if we apply ourselves.

The right question to ask is NOT “what is easy?”
As students of Jiu-jitsu , we value accomplishments that are difficult.


3) Making decisions under duress

If we look at the mind as a muscle that is strengthened when put to work in certain ways, we can see how jiu-jitsu teaches us to:

  •  Stay calm in stressful situations;
  • Teach us how to make decisions under duress;
  • Teach us about using patience and waiting for the right time to act;
  • A mind calmed by training jiu-jitsu is more clear and able to make the best decisions in our lives.

Let us be reminded that body and mind are not separate. By training our bodies to be flexible, durable and overcome challenges, so are we training our minds also.

“If we pay attention to and allow jiu-jitsu to make a difference in our daily lives by applying what we learn on the mat to daily life, we open ourselves up to an exciting path of personal growth that helps us make large steps to improve in what really matters to us.” Prof. Flavio Almeida


What life lessons has jiu-jitsu taught YOU?

Credits: Mark Mullen 
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ