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To Win Is To Learn

To Win Is To Learn

To Win Is To Learn


Jiujitsu is an old martial art. Few are as ancient as it. And the ones that are, like sumo, stress the importance of balance and keeping your footing. To win at life and on the mat means that there are certain priorities to keep in mind. The first is balance. Balance in your life includes making sure you keep up with your responsibilities, while balance on the mat means that you’re training your body to work defensively rather than impulsively.

You often hear that a good defense is the best offense. That said, it’s oftentimes those who are new to jiujitsu who tend to go for glory first. They’ll attempt several obvious submissions with all their strength, wasting their energy and sacrificing their strong base for a shot at winning.


But what is a win in jiujitsu? This is different for each person. MAJJ is not a competition gym, and while we train students to be the best that they can be–we are a family gym. We train people for self-defense, not an MMA debut.

What I consider a win, is noticing new details during a lesson that I hadn’t noticed before. The way someone will grab a wrist and then firmly cup someone’s elbow rather than simply grabbing it during the Americana. Or how to shift the weight of my head to make getting up easier when I’m on the ground. All of these small details may seem lackluster to the novice who wants to see someone thrown through a plate glass window. But don’t be fooled by action movies. In jiujitsu (just as in life), it’s the steady accumulation of small bits of knowledge that make you truly powerful.


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your career, your relationships with others, or your jiujitsu game. Quality takes time and serious attention.

Think of your progress in jiu jitsu as a pearl. You start out as a grain of sand, gradually gaining mass and becoming more and more polished. Rather than destructive force, you should crave the refinement of technique. Blood lust is something you should save for the octagon. And if you don’t plan on stepping foot in there, then don’t bring it onto the mat.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with a little in-house competition. It can be frustrating when you have trouble dealing with someone on the mat due to their long legs, or the fact that you instinctively throw your hips up when trying to pass the mount, completely dissolving whatever pressure you had created.

Instead of overwhelming yourself with the goal of becoming a martial arts legend, take it slow. Analyze what you’re good at and what you can improve, and work your way from there.

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