Mental Toughness in BJJ – All you Need to Know

Many believe that mental toughness is one of the most significant benefactors to success. It is an important factor in aspects of life, such as education and work. Most often, however, it is said about how mental toughness is needed in the sport and how it separates good athletes from the best ones. And that’s why it is worth exploring how is it with mental toughness in BJJ. Is it also so important in jiu jitsu? Can you increase your mental toughness with BJJ? Check below, and you will find the answers!

What exactly is mental toughness?

According to researchers, mental toughness is the natural or developed psychological advantage that allows you to generally, deal better with the many things (competition, training, lifestyle, etc.). The mentally tough person is more consistent and better than their opponents when it comes to remaining determined, focused, confident, and controlled under pressure.

In other words, mental toughness is the ability to resist, manage, and overcome doubts, worries, and concerns. Generally, all circumstances that prevent you from succeeding or excelling at a task or towards an objective or a performance outcome that you set out to achieve. It is a broad concept, frequently used colloquially to refer to any set of positive attributes that helps a person to cope with difficult situations. Most often, however, it refers to the sport, in the context of a set of attributes that allow a person to become a better athlete. A mentally tough person can cope with difficult training and competitive situations without losing confidence. 

In recent decades, the term has been commonly used by coaches, psychologists, sports commentators, and business leaders. They freely use it to describe the mental state of athletes who persevere through difficult sport circumstances to succeed. Moreover, much research has been done on mental toughness confirming its link with success. At the same time, however, there are many criticisms regarding the use of this imprecise approach and doubting such a clear connection between success and mental toughness. 

Mental toughness in BJJ: why is it important?

There are numerous determinants as to why a positive mentality or mental toughness is a helper to success. An elite competitor must be capable of handling pressure, have self-belief, and avoid lifestyle distractions. They must have that urge to win and know that they have all the capabilities to do anything they desire. All of this applies to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and jiu jitsu competitors as well. Mental toughness in BJJ is, therefore, as important as in any other sport. 

You could even say that it is even more important because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an individual sport. Of course, you have your academy and clubmates, you have to practice and roll with other people, but in the end, in the competition, it is 1 vs 1. And it is in this solitary confrontation that you need that mental toughness to win. As in team sports, there is no team that can help you overcome your weakness or stress. You are on your own with all this, you just have to deal with yourself to win. And that’s why mental toughness is so important in BJJ. 

How can you become mentally tough? 

Some people are mentally tough naturally. Most of the time people like this also have something called by sports psychologists “intrinsic motivation”. This means that individuals who got it are self-motivators. These people find it easy to set themself goals. They can drive themselves from inside rather than needing it to come from other people. For others, however, achieving mental toughness is, unfortunately, hard work. Some people just need that extra push or motivation from others to keep them going. So if you are in a group that does not naturally have these self-motivational skills, first of all, you have to be willing to make the effort. And be ready to put in the needed work to develop it and become mentally tough. It has to be a strong resolution without turning back. 

Then you should stop using any negative connotations, both in training and everyday life. Replace all “I Can’t”, “I am not good enough”, “I will lose anyway” with positive statements like “I can/will do it”, etc. Generally, change the negative thoughts and words with the positive ones, and you will be surprised at how much more you can accomplish. The right attitude is key here. As a next step, take this to the next level. Don’t stop at words and thoughts, but also relate it to deeper beliefs about yourself. Get rid of self-doubt and replace it with positive affirmations, and believing in yourself, use positive visualizations of yourself. 

Also, don’t forget that the mind controls the body, not the other way around. So next time when you will be training hard and get to the point where all you can think is “I can’t keep going” that is the exact moment when you need to keep going no matter what. You need to train your mind to push your body even through the pain and struggle. Thanks to such exercises and attitude your body will be doing whatever the mind is telling it to. By doing so you will achieve an almost perfect balance of body and spirit and you will be near to unstoppable. The good information is also that practicing BJJ helps with all mentioned above, and it’s just a great help to achieve mental toughness. See below for how exactly jiu jitsu will increase your skills in this regard.  

Ways of developing mental toughness through BJJ

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sharpen your focus

Hardly anyone immediately understands how exactly the technique that the trainer just showed works and can repeat it right away. Most of us have to focus, process it in the head, and only then more or less know what’s going on. Also, rolling requires constant concentration. You must be continually careful and constantly analyze the situation to avoid your opponents’ attacks and attack yourself. If you have to act like this all the time, just by doing so your skills are improving. You are just generally becoming more focused. This, in turn, translates to that you can also focus on achieving your goals, and eventually your mental toughness increases. 

  • BJJ improve self-discipline

BJJ is one of the most demanding martial arts. It often takes over 10 years to reach a black belt. On the way, you will spend many hours on the mat, you will have to work hard a lot, and you will shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. However, nobody will force you to do so. You have to force yourself to appear all the time at training, even if you don’t feel like it and you have a bad day. By doing so you improve your self-discipline. You learn how not to need outside voices to act. This, in turn, translates into self-motivation, that is, also the growth of your mental toughness. 

  • Jiu Jitsu helps you to manage negative thoughts

If mentioned above replacing negative thoughts and beliefs with positive ones seems hard to you, don’t worry, BJJ will help you with that. It is because at some moment in your training your progress will slow down and you will start to wonder about the point of your jiu jitsu practice. However, if BJJ is your passion, you’ll just grit your teeth and keep showing up at training despite these negative thoughts. You just have to understand that it’s impossible and futile to attempt to stop these thoughts from popping up in your head. Instead, you must learn to manage negative thoughts when they arise. So the more you’re able to turn your attention to that critical voices and deal with whatever they are saying, the more your mental toughness in BJJ and outside of it increases. 

Check also what about mental toughness in BJJ 5X World Champ Bernardo Faria has to say: