If you need a change in your life, try BJJ!

BJJ competion in Pilar de la Horadada, Spain
BJJ competion in Pilar de la Horadada, Spain

You think martial arts is for guys with lots of muscles and not much brain? You could not be wronger. If you don't believe me, try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). It will change your view. It might even change you as a person. It may change your life.

Here is my Story: Some years ago my son wanted to start with martial arts . I was not amused. What type of people would he meet there? what about getting injured? what mindset would he acquire? All these questions worried me. So, when he asked if we could do it together I said: "Why not?" This way I would quickly get answers to my questions. If somebody had told me how important BJJ would become in my life I would not have believed it.

BJJ in a nutshell

BJJ evolved from Judo with a special focus on ground grappling. It is one of the fastet growing sports in the US and is becoming popular in many European countries. Most practitioners focus on the sport aspect of BJJ. However, it is also a proven and well accepted system for self defense. What makes BJJ so different is its strong focus on rolling (sparring). The reason for this is that in BJJ we think that the only way to learn is by using what we have learned against someone who will put a maximum amount of resistence.

What BJJ teaches you

Many things you learn on the mats are a lesson for life - and for business. This does not mean you should armlock your business partner to make him sign a contract.

Be Humble - If you think you are better than others you will very quickly learn that there is always someone who it better than you. You will learn that the same guy that you submitted three times in a row will suddenly improve and smash your ego to pieces - this is how it sometimes feels, but all he does is putting you back into place.

Relax - Being angry, furious, desperate or nervous is the best recipy for losing a fight. You learn to stay calm even under pressure and to pull off all the moves you have drilled hundreds of times. Being calm enables you to stay focused, only this way you will see the trap your opponent or sparring partner has set up for you.

Don't waste energy - People who have no experience in martial arts underestimate the tremendous amount of energy these sports require. This is why untrained people are more likely to pick a fight (especially when booze and ego is involved). A combat in a competition is five minutes. You might say this is not a long time. Go out skipping for five minutes and say this again. In BJJ you learn to realize when it's time to fire your artillery and how to safely cut down on resource usage. One of the best strategies in a self defense situation (at least on the ground) is to have a solid defense, save resources and wait until the other guy is exhausted. "Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing".

Pay attention to details - If a technique does not work it is because you are missing some details. Very often a slight adjustment make things work.

Do things slowly - All beginners think that all techniques need to be executed quickly. This is utterly wrong. A slow but well done move will work many times. A badly executed, quick move will hardly ever work. The mastery lies in doing things quickly AND correctly.

Do not rush - In BJJ there is a golden rule: "Position before Submission". When you get to a good position, secure it. Remove space, shift your center of gravity to the right spot, take your time to get everything tight. Only after you have made sure that you are in the best possible position you start your final attack. I totally screwed up my first competition because I rushed.

Do not freeze - When beginners feel safe in a position they cling to it for dear life. It's their comfort zone. If your opponent keeps moving he will sooner or later break your guard or escape your mount or whatever. If you just defend your status quo you will get to a point where your opponent forces you to move. Always move as long as it is YOU who decides when and how to move!

If you don't loose you don't learn - This sounds like a cliche but there is a lot of truth in it. The difference between BJJ and other martial arts is that you pressure test your skills all the time. This means that if you add a new move to your skill set you are likely to fail until you get it right and have some practice with it. People with too much ego will always stick to what works for them and will never add anything new to their skill set because they fear to fail. While others progress they stall until they get submitted by all the people they used to submit which is the point where they either master their ego or quit.

A good habit is worth a hundred techniques - There is a misconception about progress. Most people think that getting better consists of just adding one technique on top of the other. This is wrong. Habits are far more important than knowledge. Things like "always keep your arms close to your body", "always protect your neck", "never leave any space", "keep moving", "fight for your grips", etc. sound very simple but make a huuuge difference. Interestingly, beginners tend to ignore the importance of habits even they are told how importante they are all the time. You need to experience how one single new habit can boost your progress to realize how important they are.

Have two plans or you have no plan - There is not a single technique - neither in BJJ nor in any other aspect of life which cannot fail. This is why you will always need to have a second option - and you need it at hand. No time to start thinking while the other guy sinks in his grips for a cross collar choke. If your first intent does not work, give it a second try. Then switch to your alternative.

Be aware of opportunities - This sounds so easy yet is so difficult to achieve. The mastery of the art consists mostly of this. The difference between a black belt and a lower belt is that a black belt sees opportunities and is able to set up an entire plan within a second. It usually takes at least ten years to become a black belt in BJJ - it takes that long to acquire the capability to see opportunities as soon as they pop up.

I am sure it does not take much thought to understand how all this has its application in life and business. But, why should I go through all the hazzle if I can just take my copy of Sun Tzu off the bookshelf, lean back and read it? The answer is that only by living it, training, drilling, being reminded every forgotten lessons from time to time you will really come to understand this.

"A black belt is just a white belt who has never given up"