A Parallel between Life and Jiu Jitsu

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

The Paradox Of Jiu Jitsu

I am always looking for the parallels between life and Jiu Jitsu. There are so many, and each time I connect the dots, I come to a better understanding of myself and my world.

I had a recent conversation with one of our students who was commenting that people keep submitting him with his own gi. Upon first glance, this seems unusual:

We wear the weapon with which our opponent destroys us.

With further inspection, however, this is actually quiet poetic.

The Truth It Reveals

We always wear the weapons with which we destroy ourselves, and what we wear are our habits, the modes of being we unconsciously embody, familiar to the point of being invisible.

These are habits of thought, action, and observation which shape ourselves and our world. Some of these habits are keeping with the narrative we act out, bringing us closer to our “ideal future.” These habits serve us well.

But what about the other habits, the ones that don’t serve our ultimate aim?

These are the weapons with which we destroy ourselves. And like Jiu Jitsu, they are often tacit. We don’t expect that harmless grip on our sleeve to lead to getting swept, our guard passed, and submitted. But it does.

Just like we don’t think that extra cup of coffee or tasty treat each day affects our health, but on a long enough timeline, it does.

Honest Self-Assessment

I learned a great thought exercise from listening to the lectures of Jordan Peterson. He implored the audience to ask themselves what are the things they do everyday which will manifest into a problem in the future. This is as simple as it is rarely practiced.

Upon asking myself this question, I quickly became aware of many routines of suboptimal behavior I was acting out: the bad habits I “wear” with which my opponent (my weaker nature) will destroy me.

They often go unnoticed in daily experience, but when compounded over decades, become that which blindside us and lead to great suffering.

Call to Action

Jiu Jitsu continues to be an apt metaphor for life. The seeming paradox of wearing that which destroys us is just another in a long line of parallels between the gentle art and the good life.

In live training, we guard our gi with conscious intent. We fight grips incessantly because we know that they will lead to something worse.

It is time we be as diligent about fighting our habits. We are always wearing that which will destroy us. We must daily strive to remove the patterns of behavior which impede our action and stand in the way of us achieving our highest selves.

No habit, however seemingly innocuous, is to be taken lightly. The dragon of chaos was once a mere egg. Kill the monster when it’s small. Break these habits today so that they don’t break you in the future.

The more sincerely we seek to grapple well, we are embodying the principles which make for good living. We do this first on the mat, then we learn to live this way in the world.

If you want to read Chris’s latest book on personal development, check it out here.

If you would like to be coached by Chris personally, click here.

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