This article was written by 3rd-Degree Roger Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Nicolas Gregoriades.
I have had many excellent teachers in my life up until this point, but Jiu-Jitsu has been by far the greatest of them all. I am presented with new lessons each and every time I step on the mat. Some of these lessons I learned early, some only after many years of training, and with others, I am still receiving my instruction.
Patience is a Virtue
It doesn't take much to see that we are living in a world addicted to instant gratification. People want results immediately. This impulsive state of being is fundamentally incompatible with jiu-jitsu. The art has two ways of punishing those who are not mature enough to be patient. Firstly, if a move is rushed it is much more likely to fail. If I become greedy for a submission I very often lose it. However, if I take my time and analyze the position - if I am patient enough to think before moving - the finish is far more likely to be successful. Secondly, those that expect to acquire skills in a short space of time quickly become frustrated, and many even give up. Jiu-Jitsu is not something that can be rushed. True, there are ways to maximize the effectiveness of the learning process, but it still requires time. Very often our progress seems to plateau and it feels as if we are not improving. It takes patience to ride out these plateaus and wait for results to manifest. I have learned through jiu-jitsu that patience is a virtue which improves almost all aspects of my life.
It's all about Perception
When we are rolling, it's rare that we encounter a position or situation that has only a 'right' and 'wrong' response. Instead, there are usually 'ways' and 'better ways' of reacting. To me, this offers an intelligent and efficient way of looking at the world. Many years ago, while sparring with my first instructor, I found myself caught in a knee-bar. As I was about to tap, he asked me "Why don't you escape?". "There's no way out of this!" I foolishly replied. He proceeds to show me a simple movement which neutralized all of his leverage and allowed me to escape the lock. I had been, in his words, locked against my own perception. The escape had always been there - I just hadn't seen it before. Similarly, when I was younger, there were many situations in my life where I was convinced that I had only one course of action available to me. By adapting what I have learned through jiu-jitsu, I have come to realize that there are always more than one or two possibilities. All it takes for us to be able to see these possibilities is an expansion of our perception.
So many people go through their lives resisting and avoiding change, much to their detriment. The speed at which the world is changing can be intimidating. Just as the world is not the same place it was thirty years ago, so is jiu-jitsu not the same as it was during the time of Mitsuo Maeda and Gastao Gracie. Change is a catalyst for growth. Jiu-jitsu is a living thing like you and me, and all healthy living things grow. If I keep attacking my sparring partners with the same submissions and set-ups they will soon learn to counter them and defeat me. Anything that stands still is soon overtaken. We need to adapt or we are unable to keep up with the dynamism of the art. Jiu-jitsu has helped me recognize this need for constant change, and through this recognition allowed me to strive for continual transformation and progression in life. Know
When to Yield
Bruce Lee said: "Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind." This is an important characteristic of a jiu-jitsu practitioner and one of the most overlooked and important aspects of our art. The literal translation of jiu-jitsu or ju-jitsu is "gentle or compliant technique". Many forget this. Their standard recourse while fighting is to try and meet their opponent head-on. This very often leads to defeat, especially if their opponent's strength in that particular area is greater. The more you try to resist an adversary's force the harder he will push against yours. Sometimes it's wiser to not resist his pressure, but instead to yield to it and then redirect it. I believe that in life the same applies. Often people and situations may seem to overwhelm us. By thinking like a jiu-jitsuka, we can learn to determine when it is prudent to yield to these stresses and divert their force to our own ends. What jiu jitsu life lessons have you learned? I look forward to hearing from you all.