12 Lessons From Brazilian Jiujitsu For Those Saving the World

1. Leave Your Ego At The Door


A BJJ beginner progresses by being repeatedly tested against better grapplers. Technique and grappler’s sensitivity matures under time and pressure. Often, big alpha-male types have trouble accepting loss dealt by smaller but more experienced sparring partners. As a result, many egotistical beginners leave in frustration and are never seen again. For a friend of mine, one such funny moment turned sad when he learned that the rage quitting macho man was a cop.

It is not to say that every BJJ athlete is completely free from ego; after all, we are still human. However, there are always consequences waiting for unchecked egos. I once attended a seminar by Andre Galvao, one of the best BJJ competitors in the world, whom briefly mentioned the subject. Galvao told a story about how one of his students, when instructed to find a partner to work with, saw everyone hurry away from him. When that student asked him why, Galvao replied plainly, “It is because you are mean! If no one wants to play with you, how can you get better?”

Saving the World:

You are an educated activist and it is understandable that nothing itches worse than the rash of ignorance. There are times when intellectual dominance must be exerted against those whom insist upon intolerance and hate. There are times appropriate for satire and I too am bummed at Jon Stewart’s retirement. And then there are times where you need to cut the sarcasm and stop ridiculing those whom share an alternative point of view.

Intellectuals whom are constantly belittling others rob themselves the chance to progress their own knowledge. One may satiate their ego by out-debating another but pretentious attitudes push others away. If you become comically enraged because someone disagrees with you, then exactly how different are you from the alpha male example listed above?

As humans, we have natural vanities. That is understandable. However, there is fine line between seeking a little gratification in shutting down ignorance versus rubbing a cause in the face of others to get up on a high horse. The most irritating behavior from the latter group is when those white knights feel free to attack others but, as individuals, are beyond reproach as any personal criticism is shielded by their service to the ‘higher’ cause. Perfect combination for ego! Terrible for self-improvement. Even worse for a good cause.


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