Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a wonderful sport with many life-changing benefits. However, we often don’t even realize how much jiu-jitsu changes our lives. We mostly think that we only learn techniques and moves at training. But, in fact, we also learn a lot about life on the mat. So if you’re wondering what exactly jiu-jitsu can teach you about everyday life, check 5 BJJ life lessons below.
5 BJJ life Lessons
Don’t judge a book by its cover
If someone tells you that size matters, not skills, he or she certainly didn’t train jiu-jitsu. In this sport, the chances are really even, and often the smaller can beat the bigger one. That was the whole concept that Master Helio had had while creating Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ was supposed to be a tool for the smaller, physically weaker to win against the bigger and stronger ones. All this translates into the fact that in BJJ when choosing sparring partners, you can really be surprised. Someone small and inconspicuous may turn out to be much more dangerous as an opponent than a large muscular guy, who we would stereotypically find harder to beat.
Example: Marcelo Garcia
Just look at Marcelo Garcia – sweet and friendly-looking, less than 175 cm high, doesn’t look scary at all. Even commonly called Marcelinho, which is a friendly way of saying Marcelo, something like “little Marcelo”. And yet he is one of the best grapplers in the world. Marcelo also has no problem at dealing with even much larger opponents. In a fight between him and Ricco Rodriguez judging only by the appearance, the obvious winner seems to be Ricco. After all, he is 20 centimeters taller and over 30 kilos heavier than Marcelo.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, however, teaches us not to judge others in this way. Not looking like a winner Marcelo wins. And this is not a unique situation, because on the mat this type of thing happens quite often. Just look around at your club while rolling or remember ADCC 2019 and Lachlan Giles‘s victory. The conclusion is simple, the appearance may not have any relation to skills, character, etc.
And actually, this is one of the biggest BJJ life lessons. Because not to judge a book by its cover is applicable not only on the mat but also in everyday life. It is simply not profitable to judge others just by their appearance. On the mat, you can see it tangibly, when someone smaller will tap you out several times during rolling. And in everyday life, it is better not to see how badly we rated others because the consequences can be much worse than losing in sparring.
Talent is not everything
We often think that only super-talented, born with a silver spoon in the mouth or under a lucky star people succeed. There are no other options, all others are doomed to a mediocre existence. This belief is quite depressing, and unfortunately, it can be perpetuated by injustices at school or on the labor market. BJJ is, fortunately, fighting this conviction. Jiu-jitsu is a quite demanding sport in which physical conditions, money, and talent do not count as much as hard work and perseverance. To become a black belt and achieve success in competitions, you must, first of all, spend a lot of time on the mat.
Example: Nicky Ryan
A good example of this is young Nicky Ryan. Many people think he is just pure talent, even calling him “prodigy”. Of course, talent, physical conditions, being Gordon’s brother, etc. help, but BJJ teaches us that this is not the most important thing. What makes younger Ryan so good is his dedication to the sport and how much hard work he puts in it. He practically lives on the mat and was even homeschooled to spend more time on training. By doing so, Nicky shows that by putting your heart into what you do, you can achieve what you want, even if you are not a life lucky man from a rich family.
And this is also what jiu-jitsu teaches. This BJJ life lesson tells that on the very top there are not some super-people with natural talent, but the same “ordinary” guys like you or me who just work incredibly hard. And if they could achieve such successes thanks to their perseverance, there are no excuses for us. Knowing this, you just can’t think that you are not talented enough to continue something.
Shared passion is important in building relationships
Jiu-jitsu training gather various people. During classes you can meet people of all ages, performing very different professions, from very different backgrounds and so on. And yet somehow, these people, often so different from you, become your family. Sometimes you may even be surprised how it happened that your friend is someone with a completely different life than yours with whom you share a considerable age difference. Under normal circumstances, you probably would never even meet, and thanks to BJJ you can talk for hours after a class over a beer. It is because what really brings people together is common passions and interests, not blood ties or the workplace.
For example, you can date the prettiest girl or most handsome guy out there. But what for if after a few meetings you don’t even have anything to talk about? Okay, this silent coexistence may suit some people. For most, however, this is a fairly weak situation, and here BJJ shows that life is also about sharing passions. This is because common interests blur other differences between us, and thanks to that we become one big family. It can be safely called a BJJ life lesson because it applies not only on the mat but also interpersonal relations in general. Having a shared passion is just as important when we want to be friends with our brother or sister, coworker, or our significant other.
How to adapt instead of fighting windmills
Fortunately or not, the world is so constructed that most of us must be rather conformists than nonconformists for everything to function. For some compliance with the values, views, principles, and norms of conduct in force in a given social group is no problem. For others, this can be frustrating and even seems unacceptable. BJJ teaches us, however, that we don’t have only these two ways: to accept all these things without thinking or fight them to death. Thanks to jiu-jitsu we know there is a more rational approach that involves appropriate adaptation to the situation.
Just don’t get it wrong. It is not about agreeing to things that are not in line with our beliefs because it will make life easier. This BJJ life lesson is about just being able to react to things properly. It often seems to us that it is best to respond to an attack by an attack, an insult by an insult, etc. just do what was done to us. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, however, it looks quite different. BJJ is about using your opponent’s energy to your advantage, not mindless opposition to it. Namely, instead of pushing someone because he pushes you, you will pull him. It’s a simple but brilliant idea, which can also be used in everyday life.
Thanks to jiu-jitsu, you learn how to instead of avoiding the inevitable problem or arguing senselessly to adapt and adjust to the situation to minimize the adverse effects and maximize the positive. For example, thanks to such thinking, when you have a stupid boss at work, you will not mindlessly follow him or argue with him aggressively, you will rather act so that the work is done as well as possible. Then you are not on any extreme side of being nonconformist or conformist. But you are very close to the golden mean of functioning in society. And all thanks to knowing the rules of the BJJ game.
Things are not as bad as you think
In BJJ, while rolling you can be tangled up like a pretzel with your opponent. This may look quite dramatic to both viewers and yourself. These legs and arms around you can seem dangerous. But at the same time, you can use this body arrangement also to your advantage and, by pulling this dangerously close leg, win. It all just looks worse than it really is. Generally, on paper and for someone looking from the side, all of BJJ may look quite frustrating and uncomfortable. Waiting more than 10 years for the black belt, fighting for several minutes without a break, be all the time in such close physical contact with other sweaty people? Doesn’t seems like fun. Just check below what about BJJ was appearing a few years ago.
But it turns out that in BJJ what sounds so terrible is pretty cool. On the mat being uncomfortable, tired, and frustrated can be a lot of fun. Because despite these difficulties, you learn a lot there, improve your mental and physical condition, and meet great people. The devil is just not so black as he is painted. And this attitude from the mat can be transferred to everyday life. This BJJ life lesson teaches you that you have to approach things calmly and see what will happen. Because just like with jiu-jitsu it may turn out better than you might think.