When I think of martial arts, I think of Karate Kid (wax on, wax off!!) or classic Bruce Lee films. That’s about as in-depth as my knowledge of the art goes. So over the summer I signed up to a short course of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) to learn more. BJJ is a form of martial arts that focuses largely on grappling and ground fighting. It’s a great way to learn self defense and discipline while staying fit.
Here are the life lessons I learned from Brazilian jiu-jitsu:
While on the mat I realized the importance of concentration. Initially, I struggled to fully focus and detach from everything else going on. I’d become so used to juggling multiple things at once, I found it hard to switch off. I quickly learned that if I wasn’t 100% focused during class I would miss an important move and struggle to keep up. Similar to everyday life, with so many distractions it’s so important to focus and stay in the moment or life will pass us by.
After fully committing to training and seeing my progress, I began to feel much more confident on the mat. Each small improvement increased my confidence and made me more determined to try a more difficult move.
3. Hard work beats talent
BJJ reinforced that hard work and determination is more important than talent. No one goes from a beginner to a black belt overnight. It takes a huge amount of commitment to push through even when times are tough. In life, you can passively sit and wait for good fortune or you can roll your sleeves up and begin putting in the hours required for mastery. Think Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule.
4. Consistency is key
I attended three BJJ classes a week after work. It was a big commitment, particularly because I was still going to my early morning gym classes. I realized to become better, consistent effort was required. I noticed a huge difference in my performance on the weeks I attended one class versus three. As with any task, consistent effort makes even the most difficult tasks, easier over time.
5. Find the right teacher
The Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors were great. They gave feedback to us throughout each class, were very encouraging and were always on hand to talk me through the moves I struggled with. This made a huge difference to my overall enjoyment of the classes. I learned how important it is find a good teacher, who could simplify the technical moves. Similar to a any class or group setting: if you have a strong teacher/leader at the top your chances of success are much greater.
Special thanks to the Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team for making me feel so welcome!