Three Life Lessons from Jiu-Jitsu

If you’ve been following me on social media for a while then you probably know that I’ve been learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pretty intensely for nearly the last year.

I’m just a white belt learning all of the basics, but little by little I can see myself improving. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m working to learn as much as I can.

What I’d like to share with you today is the valuable lessons I’ve gathered from the sport that  can be valuable for you to apply to your own life, as I have began to apply to my own.

Before we get into the lessons, you should first have an understanding of what Jiu-Jitsu is so this article make a little more sense for you.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a form of grappling where two competitors try to submit one another using chokes and a variety of joint locks like arm bars, shoulder locks, knee bars etc.

It’s a martial art that relies heavily on leverage, technique, proper body position and the mind. It is also a form of problem solving and is often referred to as human chess since you’re constantly trying to stay one step ahead of your opponent.

Now that you have an idea of what Jiu-Jitsu is, let’s get into it.

Lesson #1: You cannot rely solely on your strengths. You must develop your weaknesses.

I’ve been obsessed with strength training and coaching for a long time now, so although I’m not the strongest guy in the world, I have a pretty good level of strength, power and endurance. For the most part, I’m physically stronger than most people that I roll with.

Early on I thought that I’d be able to out-muscle some of the guys I was training with and that I’d be ok. Man, what a dipshit way of thinking. In about 12 seconds I realized I was dead wrong.

People half my size were strangling me with my own limbs and nearly snapping my arm in half. I don’t want to say that my strength was useless because it certainly is an asset; however it was the only tool I had in my toolbox and it wasn’t the tool I needed. In order for me to get better I needed to learn the art and fill up my toolbox with technique and awareness of what my opponent is trying to do.

In life, many people rely solely on their strengths and never address their weaknesses. Maybe you’re very intellectually smart but have sub-par social skills or vice versa. Maybe you’re heavily involved in yoga but don’t do much strength training or the other way around. That’s when injuries and other problems occur.

There needs to be some type of balance in your life, the yin and the yang. Use your strengths to your advantage, but open up your world and expose yourself to the areas that need work so you can then evolve as a human being. I believe that when you do that you create the potential to live a very fulfilling life.

Lesson #2: You can’t always have control over everything, but you can control how you respond

One thing most of us seek is control. It’s why so many people get anxious on a plane; they’re totally out of control.

In Jiu-Jitsu, there are times when I’m getting smashed and in a bad position. It’s uncomfortable, you can’t breathe, can’t move and have the sweat from another dude dripping into your eyes and mouth…yeah, not the best place to be.

Early on I’d get extremely frustrated in these positions and would start whaling around trying to get out. All that would do is leave me even more exhausted which made the position worse.

I needed to learn how to relax and get comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m not saying that you should just give up and accept the beating, I’m saying that sometimes it’s important to accept what you don’t have full control over and strategically work your way into a better position. Or, at least work yourself into the right state of mind.

If you allow emotions to get the best of you, I assure that you’ll be in a worse position in life with energy wasted on something you had no control over. Instead, be strategic, control your thoughts, your breathing and start working yourself into a better position.

Lesson #3: Life is a game of chess, be strategic

As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Most people going through life like they’re going to live forever. No goal setting, no planning and growing old without any thought or direction as to how they want their life to play out. Maybe they think about it once in a while, but there’s no real plan to get them there.

The same goes for fitness. Usually people have very vague goals like “I want to lose some weight” and think that just showing up at the gym is going to get them the results they want.

It doesn’t work that way!

You need a coach and you need a plan!

My first few weeks in Jiu-Jitsu I never had a plan when I’d spar with someone. I’d just go, go, go and would always end up getting choked. Don’t get me wrong, I still get my ass kicked and submitted all of the time, but my game is improving because I now have enough information to apply some sort of strategy.

And because of that I’m getting better in other areas of my life.

That’s all we can do, my friend. Do your best every single day to improve in some small way.

Strive to improve at work, in your relationship, in your health, in your friendships…in all areas of your life. But if you don’t create a game plan on how you’ll improve it’s going to be very difficult to grow.

I hope that you see these lessons clearly and start to apply them to your own life immediately. There are lessons all around us. I encourage you to be more conscious and aware of them so you can take your life, fitness and career to the next level.

Thanks for reading.

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