Jocko Willink: “You’ve Got To Enjoy Getting Tapped Out” To Survive BJJ

“You’re not going to win,” Jocko Willink, the one-man inspirational army and former US Navy SEAL, says bluntly about the early years of training jiu-jitsu. “You’re going to lose over, and over, and over again, to people that are smaller than you, weaker than you, not as tough as you, literally.”

An evangelist for discipline, cultivating healthy mindsets, and living to one’s full potential, Willink has been whole heartedly embraced by the mixed martial arts community as both a practitioner and coach, perhaps nowhere more-so than in the BJJ circles he frequently addresses on his Jocko Podcast.

In the most recent episode, Jocko responds to a letter from a 50something-year-old fan struggling with the “I can’t stop getting my *** kicked” frustration that all new grapplers eventually smash into…and that drives many to quit before they ever achieve anything.

So how does one of the most determined men alive push through the frustration of sucking for years at something? First, he radically accepts that BJJ is “a long, slow journey,” encouraging young fighters to stop hating injuries and losses and start enjoying them.

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“You’ve got to enjoy the journey. You’ve got to enjoy getting tapped out by someone smaller than you–be amazed by that…say to yourself, ‘Chicks dig scars.’ Don’t look at [injuries and losses] as negatives. Don’t rush to the end, take your time and enjoy the sights!”

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But also? If you’re going to make it from white belt to purple and beyond, swallow the ego and train smart.

“Select your training partners carefully. If you’re 54 years old you don’t want to be rolling with a 20-year-old steroid freak white belt that’s trying to kill you. You wanna be rolling with a cool, mellow purple belt that wants to do jiu-jitsu,” he says.

Beyond that, however, Willink–the guy who gets up to go running at 4:30am by choice–reminds listeners jiu-jitsu is supposed to be fun.

“It should be a good time,” Willink explains. “Whatever goal you’re trying to achieve, if you’re letting those frustrations get you down you’ve got to change your attitude. Look at is as something good that’s happening.”

The full chat about getting through the challenging parts of the grappling game is right here:

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Kimberly Kaye
Kimberly Kaye is a purple belt under NOLA MMA's Professor Matthias Meister, Mestre Valencio Cocada, and Ray Lopez. When she's not being choked or kicked by large Louisianians, she's an integrative wellness coach working primarily with fighters and autoimmune disease patients. In her free time she rehabilitates of deaf bully breed dogs no one else wants. Kimberly coexists with the rare diseases CIPO and Ehler-Danlos Syndrome, and is an advocate for disabled individuals in the martial arts community and world at large.
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