One of the most common things you will hear from long time Jiu Jitsu practitioners is how Jiu Jitsu helped them transform their life in better. But how does Jiu Jitsu do that? What can you do to help the process? Let’s find out.
Getting out of the comfort zone
Ever had a huge interview coming? A big event that you, in one way or another, had to perform to some expectations? You most likely did. And if you did, you also felt the jitters, the nervousness and the emotional response your brain and your body gave for that particular challenge. In those very moments you were out of your comfort zone. You were taken away from the situations you were used to dealing with and were put in front of one you, maybe, had no idea how to deal with. Did you successfully manage to deal with that situation and perform accordingly? If yes, good for you. You probably gained something good from that, whether money, something tangible or anything else. If not, there probably have been consequences. Perhaps a lost opportunity, lost money, etc.
How does Jiu Jitsu help here? Jiu Jitsu is one very effective way of getting out of the comfort zone and learning to control your emotional responses. Jiu Jitsu puts you in tough situations where you have to act and take decisions in an instant. Think of the last sparring round of a training session. You’re sparring with a big guy who is also experienced, you have one minute left, you are completely gassed out, yet you somehow have to try to survive in his full mount. In these moments, you have to take tactical decisions that will lead you to that outcome, all while you are completely exhausted and the big guy is trying to submit you. The decisions you take here will have consequences. Some of the decisions you make may have small consequences, like allowing the opponent to progress, while some can have a disastrous consequence, in that you get submitted. Whatever happens, the consequences are, however, limited to the mat and that sparring session. To take this to the next level, try to participate in competitions. You will notice that when the competition day arrives, you will be put to the test by the emotional response your brain will give to the challenge. But it gets better. The more you do this, the more you get used to being out of your comfort zone. You will learn how to control that emotional response and still be able to perform and that is one skill that transfers to real life situations as well and is invaluable.
What should you do?
Always challenge yourself. Put yourself in bad situations, put yourself up against tougher opponents and compete as often as possible. The more this happens, the more you will adapt to the stress caused by tough situations.
Conditioning, nutrition and rest
Once you start Jiu Jitsu and stick to it for a little while, something interesting will happen. You will want to become as good as you can possibly be at Jiu Jitsu. You will want to make changes that will make you better. You will want to get better conditioned, to have more energy. That happens by making changes. By starting a conditioning program, by adjusting your nutrition and rest in order to maximize your recovery and energy. These changes will happen in small increments, but they will come and they will change your body for the better. Lower body fat levels, increased muscle size, better recovery, better posture, the benefits are endless.
What should you do?
Try making small changes to your lifestyle. For example start by having a healthy breakfast and then keep doing that until it gets ingrained in your habits. Continue with making sure you get 8 hours of sleep a day. Perhaps you want to try something harder. Try adding a conditioning plan to your routine and stick to it. Try small changes first that, over time, will accumulate and have a big effect. The focus should be on consistency and sustainability. The changes you make should be sustainable. If you make changes that are too drastic, you may not be able to keep them in your life for too long.
One very important thing Jiu Jitsu will teach you is that anything is possible, if you put the work in. You will see moves that are apparently impossible for you at first. People that move so fast you think you are never going to come even close to them. But once you start putting in the work and being consistent, things will start to fall into place. You’ll suddenly find yourself performing that impossible move as your go to sweep. That person in the gym that you never thought you’d come close to? He is now your gym rival. Jiu Jitsu teaches you that things that seem impossible, eventually come into sight and then become a reality. It will reward your consistency and your drive to achieve things.
What should you do?
Be consistent. Show up to the training sessions. Keep trying the moves you think are too hard. Keep sparring with hard opponents. The progress will come and when it does, the confidence it gives you is unrivalled.
Small goals that lead towards bigger goals
A lot of people set huge goals for themselves and that is totally fine! However, very few actually know the path to achieving those big goals. But how does Jiu Jitsu teach you that? If you keep training Jiu Jitsu for more than one month, chances are you’ll want to do this for the rest of your life. If that is the case, you will most likely want to become good at this. So we have our first goal, becoming good at Jiu Jitsu. Now, this is the part where your instructor will step in and help set out a path for you. What would that path be made of? You guessed it. Small goals. Each small goal will lead you towards your ultimate goal, becoming good at Jiu Jitsu. Let’s take an oversimplified example. The first small goal for you would be to know 3 basic sweeps in closed guard, half guard and open guard. The next goal would be to know 3 take downs. Then to know 2 guard passes. The more small goals you complete, the closer you get to your ultimate goal. That translates to real life as well. It will help you set out a path for yourself, regardless of the goal you want to achieve.
What should you do?
Set small term goals for yourself. For example set a goal to practice only half guard for two weeks and learn the basic sweeps from there. Move on to guard passing, etc. Set small, achievable goals that will lead you towards your ultimate goal.
Editor’s note: We’ve posted this article first on Steemit which is free to view at your convenience: https://steemit.com/steemitbjj/@bjjblackbelt/how-to-use-jiu-jitsu-as-vehicle-to-improve-your-life