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3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From One Year of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Did you know that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the fastest-growing martial arts in the world? Additionally, it’s also the most difficult, complex, and effective form of self-defence you can learn. I started training in BJJ a year ago for these reasons — in addition to many others –. As such, I’m proud to announce that I now have one year of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training experience under my belt as of this writing.

And even though I’m still beginning my martial arts journey, I’ve already learned much. I’ve had awesome experiences, met cool people, and learned much about myself in the process!

Needless to say, the benefits of jiu-jitsu have been far-reaching. As a result, I’d like to share 3 life lessons I’ve learned from one year of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. Keep reading to learn more.

1. How to be Humble

The photo to the left was taken at my very first in-house tournament. I had only been training for about a month when this competition took place — so I was expecting much in terms of performance.

I placed second against the guy standing next to me in the photo. Super nice dude, but a beast on the mats.

I wasn’t thrilled about second place, but it was my first competition, so as I said, I wasn’t expecting much.

You may think, “Alex, second place is still pretty good, especially considering it was your first tournament.” And you’re right in that assumption; second place is not bad.

At least until you learn that only two of us were competing in our ranking. But despite the”L” I took, I still felt proud that I stepped up and took on the challenge, especially since I only had a month’s worth of training at the time.

What this experience — as well as all of my subsequent training — taught me is to be humble.

When I took up BJJ, I knew I was going to suck at it — for a very long time.

Why? Because Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the hardest and most complex martial art in the world to learn. With most self-defence disciplines, earning the coveted black belt typically takes 3 to 5 years. However, with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the average time it takes to earn a black belt is 10 to 15 years!

I went into this sport with the humblest of humble attitudes. I knew I would get tossed around, constantly submitted, and essentially used as a training dummy for the higher belts. And guess what… that’s exactly what happened (and what’s still happening).

But I am improving.

In fact, even as a low-ranking white belt, I’ve had some success submitting higher-ranking belts who have been training for years. Granted, these submissions are few and far between, but every win matters.

How That Slice of Humble Pie Helps Me Outside of Training

BJJ taught me the power of humility. I’ve learned how to set my ego aside, take constructive criticism, and be open to suggestions from others. This character trait has helped me in my career, with my family, and with my friends. Now, when I need to improve something — whether it’s dealing with clients, managing familial issues, or anything in between — I am to recognize my faults and improve them without becoming butt-hurt or defensive.

Of course, this is easier said than done. However, it gets done now that I have the proper mindset regarding humility.

2. The Importance of Preparation

Preparation is paramount. I’ve always known this to some extent. However, my one year of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training has really driven this concept home for me.

I’ll explain through a story…

A few months ago, I competed in my very first out-of-town tournament.

I was incredibly excited about it — I amped up my training, monitored my diet, and really focused on trying to refine my game plan.

The day of the date arrived, and I was feeling good. And when I saw my opponent, I felt even better!

I didn’t want to underestimate him because, in BJJ, you never know who you’re dealing with until you actually get on the mats.

But I felt confident about my ability to win.

The match started well. I was coming at him and had him on defence; I pulled guard and brought the fight to the ground. Things were looking good until he swept me and began to lock up a triangle. In a panic, I lifted my opponent and slammed him against the mat — twice.

The ref immediately came in and broke up the fight. He then explained that was illegal conduct and proceeded to disqualify me. I was stunned, I had no idea that was against the rules, and as a result, it cost me the match and, ultimately, the competition. If I had prepared properly by studying the rules and regulations, I could have prevented that from happening.

And it just reinforced the necessity of proper preparation in my life. Ironically, when I reviewed the rules in preparation for my next tournament, the stark reminder was right there at Rule Number One in the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) competition rulebook, which read: No Slamming Your Opponent Against The Mat! Lesson learned.

3. Enjoy the Journey

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a long and never-ending journal. As I previously stated, it takes 10 to 15 years (on average) to earn a black belt in this discipline. And even if that coveted belt is attained, new moves and techniques are constantly being developed, and counters to those are constantly being developed as well. It’s an unending journey.

For this reason, it’s so important to enjoy the ride.

It’s a never-ending process. There is no “end destination,” but it’s a journey that should be enjoyed with every step you take. Every belt promotion, every injury, every competition, and every rolling session is a part of the jiu-jitsu journey.

It’s a constant unfolding, and the only thing you can do is show up, stay committed, and enjoy the ride.

And that’s one of the main lessons I’ve taken from my one year of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. Not to focus so much on the end goal but rather on enjoying the process and gaining all I can from what the present moment offers.

Key Takeaway From One Year of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian jiu-jitsu has changed my life. It has enhanced my self-discipline, made me more confident, and provided me with valuable lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And as I continue my training in the years to come, I’m sure I will learn even more lessons that will make me a better, stronger, and more resilient version of myself.

And at the end of the day, that’s what life is all about (at least in my humble opinion). As long as you’re improving and seeing progress in the areas that matter most to you, joy and happiness will always be a part of your experience.

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