When I first started training in BJJ four years ago, I was bored of the normal gym routine and wanted to learn what Royce Gracie used to defeat larger fighters in the early days of the UFC. While this is a common reason many people dip their toes into BJJ and other martial arts, what many realize after training for just a few months are the mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of training. Many of these benefits extend beyond the mats and training and help improve people’s lives, relationships, careers, and help unlock each person’s human potential. Here five life lessons people learn in BJJ that helps them with their everyday lives.
You learn being comfortable being uncomfortable: For something that is called “the gentle art,” there is nothing gentle about learning Jiu-jitsu when you are first getting started. It is actually quite uncomfortable and borderline unbearable when you are training in a hot and humid training room that smells like feet, while a 220 lbs upper belt is driving all of his weight into your jaw. Every once in a while a bead of sweat that doesn’t belong to you will drop into your ear, nose, or mouth, causing you to gag and nearly vomit. After a few months, then years, you learn to be become comfortable being uncomfortable both on and off the mats. From camping on the ground in the wilderness to speaking to a roomful of people, a byproduct of training is the feeling of overcoming both physical and mental discomfort in your life on and off the mats.
It will take time and mistakes to reach your goals: When I was younger, I always envied my peers that made everything look so easy whether it’s calculating a complex mathematics equation in their head or being able to execute a cross over and drive in for a dunk on the basketball court. Seeing how some people are able to make difficult things look so easy can be discouraging or create feelings of inadequacy. I personally used to believe that if you weren’t good at a game, sport, or class right off the bat, then it wasn’t for me. Training in BJJ has as taught me that learning and becoming good at BJJ and other tasks and roles in life takes time and effort on the mats, in the office, or in classroom. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and shouldn’t be mistaken with failure.
You can’t do everything on your own: While Jiu- Jitsu is considered an individual sport during competitions, it is one of the most team focused and collaborative sports ever created. You can do a few conditioning and training drills on your own, but you need coaches and training partners for drilling, sparring, and identifying opportunities for improvement. It is your training partners who will let you know the flaws in your techniques, show you never moves and details, and put in the extra time with you drilling and rolling in order to help you become a better martial artist. Nobody training in BJJ has improved their game entirely on their own. It takes a team and family that works together to make each other better.
You are more patient because others are patient with you: You can either recall the patient upper belt that showed an extraordinary amount of empathy to you when you were a confused white belt or the upper belt that rolled his or her eyes as they couldn’t fathom how you couldn’t figure out which way to shrimp out to escape side control even though it was explained to you 10 times in past five minutes. Training BJJ will teach you how to have patience for both yourself and others. There is a point where you will have to be patient with training partners or a training partner will have to be patient with you. After training in BJJ for just a few months, you will become much more patient due to the release of pent up stress from your daily life during training and also from the example displayed by empathetic upper belts in your gym who have shown patience so with you.
You will do things you never thought you would be able to do: When I first started training, I would get destroyed by 4 stripe white belts and I looked at members of my school’s competition team as God like beings with their medals and podium pictures. At the time, I never thought I would reach Blue belt and never had any intentions of competing out of fear for both my health and the risk of getting humiliated in a crowded gymnasium. Also, I was just terrible at BJJ. Flash forward four years, I have made the podium at every competition and up until recently made the finals of every competition I entered including Pans. I never thought this would be possible when i first started training. As you train, your confidence will grow both on and off the mats as you improve and start hitting milestones on the mat which will carryover to your personal life. It’s not that you never had the potential do great and interesting things in your life. It’s just that you might not have ever been give the opportunity to unlock your potential. As Joe Rogan once said “martial arts are a vehicle for human showing human potential.” The more you train and learn, the more you will realize what you are capable of achieving in your life both on and off the mats.