1. Pain is your friend
Pain is inevitable. Those of us who choose the hard road of self-discipline incur physical, mental, and emotional pain on a regular basis. But being undisciplined hurts, too—and the psychic wounds caused by apathy and disappointment are slow to heal.
The practice of Jiu Jitsu channels life’s pain and frustrations into avenues for growth. In addition to physical pains of the sport, Jiu Jitsu athletes experience the frustration of trying and failing, the fear of trying new and difficult techniques, and the angst of wanting to smash some arrogant idiot but being mature and humble instead.
Enduring these pains over and over again is not easy. But doing so produces champions. Nothing good comes easy, and Jiu Jitsu is not easy.
2. Losing is learning
Every leader in every field began as a loser with a dream. Whether it comes in the form of a failed relationship, a bad business deal, or a Jiu Jitsu submission, each loss is an education.
This idea is embodied in the physical process of a Jiu Jitsu bout. Successful fighters rarely go for an armbar or choke right out of the gate. They most often cede ground (or “lose” some of the initial grappling) in order to position themselves to properly execute their submission.
Likewise, life often demands that we take one step backward before taking two forward. Jiu Jitsu teaches students that process. It’s not a gentle lesson, but it’s an effective one.
3. Fears are meant to be faced
Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s the ability to move forward despite fear.
This is essential for success in Jiu Jitsu. The sport’s champions put themselves in frightening and painful situation over and over again until they win. In many ways, they are just frightened losers who refuse to stop.
Each time a Jiu Jistu practitioner steps on the mat, they experience the fear of failure, the fear of embarrassment, and the fear of death. But they are not held back by these fears. They understand that each of us will surely fail, suffer humiliation, and die—so they face their fears and embrace the lessons these experiences have to teach.
4. Talent is overrated.
Talent can be your enemy if you’re not careful. It can breed ego and laziness.
I’ve seen many talented fighters fail to reach their potential or receive their black belts because they quit early. And I’ve seen just as many nonathletic nerds receive their black belts after years of hard training and endurance.
Studies have shown that on average it takes about 12 1/2 years to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So while innate talent is certainly an asset, endurance is the true secret to success.