Problem Solving Is What Makes Jiu-Jitsu So Addictive

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Jiu-jitsu addicts will remember when they first started their “magnificent obsession” with BJJ. Often it is when they experienced their first success with a technique against a fully resisting opponent.

The first year of BJJ might be the most exciting time for you. Each class seems to bring a new solution to one of the problems that you experience in rolling.

It is almost like each class you show up, the instructor has read your mind about a frustrating obstacle and has an ingenious solution. It is immensely satisfying to find an answer to a problem and make it work.

BJJ guru John Danaher has described jiu-jitsu as “dynamic problem solving”. That is to say (I’m paraphrasing) that as you solve the problem, the problem (your opponent’s reaction) changes, and your mind and body must adapt instantly.

I believe this is what gets most of us addicted to jiu-jitsu. As humans we derive great pleasure from solving puzzles, playing video games, pursuing activities that require us to outdo our adversary or the game itself.

I’m reading an interesting book called “The First 20 Hours” by Josh Kaufman. It is about how to learn, and this quote struck me as particularly applicable to jiu-jitsu addicts:

Karl Popper was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. He’s the guy who popularized the idea of scientific falsifiability. In layman’s terms, if you can’t potentially prove something wrong via observation or experiment, it’s not actually science. Popper said many wise things, but I think the following remark is among the wisest: “The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears.”

As you progress in jiu-jitsu, the problems become more advanced: “How do I pass the De la Riva guard? Wait..there is a reverse DLR guard also?” The whole story just gained another layer of complexity.

Even masters of jiu-jitsu express how they continue to learn about the art 30 years after they first put on a kimono. Their minds are fascinated by the challenge of understanding and solving a new problem. It is infinite. You will never completely solve jiu-jitsu. There will always be more.

Is part of your addiction to BJJ the problem solving?

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