What Jiu Jitsu Has To Do With Life

March 22, 2022

It's funny how we often forget the lessons we are taught in the jiu jitsu school. There is a saying in BJJ which goes along the lines that "sweat on a gi is easy to wash off, sweat on a black belt is not". This would suggest that what is learned in training needs to be applied outside of training. In this article, I'm going to explore how some examples from Jiu Jitsu can also apply to our daily lives.

Getting Used To Frustration

When a man is able to handle his frustration, on and off the mat, he becomes a much more powerful force.

I have been training BJJ since my late 20s. I am now 46. When I started, I was a bit overweight and out of shape, but I was confident that my natural athleticism would carry me through. And it did — for the most part.

I had good days where everything worked and bad days where nothing did. Even though I trained consistently and learned something new every day, progress was slow. It took me two years to get my blue belt and another three to get my purple belt. After that, it took another two years to get my brown belt and an additional five for my black belt. It was only after about 12 years of training that I felt like I had achieved a level of proficiency in jiu-jitsu that made me feel like my time invested had been worth it. And I still feel like there's so much more to learn!

Working Through Fear

There are different types of fear. One type is the fear that requires immediate action, like stepping on the brake pedal when a car cuts you off. The other type is the fear that holds you back from doing what you need to do. This is where you have to step up and overcome it as quickly as possible, because it will paralyze you.

Let's say a white belt goes out to compete in a local jiu-jitsu tournament, and he loses his first match by getting submitted with an armbar. That's going to hurt him emotionally. He knows he doesn't want to feel that way again, and he won't want to expose himself to any situation where he feels like he might get embarrassed in front of other people.

But there's also something positive about that negative experience — because now he knows what he doesn't want. You can use this fear as motivation for progress. Ask yourself, "How do I not feel this way again?" And then figure out what you have to do in order to reach your goals.

Finding Persistence

Persistence is a crucial part of Jiu-Jitsu. Just about every technique has a counter and it's not uncommon for you to spend months, even years trying to perfect one submission. Months ago I learned the Kimura and have been trying to use it in live rolls ever since. My first couple attempts were met with failure, but that didn't deter me from continuing to try it. That's persistence: continuing to attempt something despite previous failures. 

Another example of persistence is when I worked on the omoplata submission. For weeks I would go over the details in my head, so much so that I was beginning to see it as an easy submission. However, when I got on the mat I could never get it right. The omoplata is a very complicated submission, so you can only get it by practicing it a lot and even then there are still opportunities to mess up.

I eventually did get both submissions down and now they're an integral part of my game. However, if I had given up after my first few tries I'd still be struggling with both submissions today. Persistence isn't just about working on something until you succeed, it's about being able to fail without getting discouraged by those failures.

Killing Ego And Pride

The first thing that you learn when you start training in Jiu-Jitsu is that your ego will be challenged on a daily basis.

You’ll find yourself being submitted by people, both men and women, of all different sizes, shapes and ages. You may even be submitted by a child or teenager. It’s an experience that puts you in touch with your humility.

This is not something most people are used to – especially if you come from a background in sports like football or wrestling, where the entire point of the game is to beat your opponent into submission.

Kill your ego. Kill your pride.

Pride and ego blind us to our mistakes and faults. They also block our ability to accept help and guidance from others.

Pride and ego can also cause us to act recklessly and stay in situations we should leave because we get "sucked in" by our pride or ego.

So kill your pride, kill your ego, acknowledge your limits and weaknesses, accept help when it's offered and be humble enough to ask for it when needed.


We strongly believe in our fundamental roots to the Gracie Self-Defense curriculum.  We also believe that the environment of a strong academy will promote healthy competition, and we stay current with the evolution of the sport.