Jiu Jitsu, Death, and Self-Optimization

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

I spent a great portion of my twenties studying Buddhism and Stoicism, both of which heavily value the theme of death. “Memento Mori,” remember that you will die, inspires us to make optimal use of our finite time.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent.”- Steve Jobs

My finitude spurs my love for efficacy; I will strive to use my limited time to the best of my ability. Efficacy, the ability to achieve an intended result, is the determining factor in achieving our goals: it is the ultimate pragmatic virtue.

Jiu Jitsu is the best tool that I have discovered with which to cultivate such efficacy. It’s physical and cognitive demand forces us to perform techniques from a functionally strong position, with optimal timing and movement. With the easily quantifiable metric of physical exertion, Jiu Jitsu offers immediate feedback on the validity of our actions: the more optimal a movement, the less physical exertion is required.

Jiu Jitsu is the consummate tool with which to develop this invaluable skill.

Jiu Jitsu taught me the benefit of seeking optimal action, and now standing on this foundation, I seek to bring this ability to the rest of my life: my relationships, my writing, my business, and my general development as I aspire toward whatever my potential may prove to be. The crux of the matter is simple:

Before we learn to live this way in the world, we must embody this mode of being in a single area of our lives and allow this skill to transcend outward. We have to do it somewhere first, and I can think of no better arena than Jiu Jitsu.

If you train Jiu Jitsu, you probably love Jiu Jitsu; I have never heard Jiu Jitsu described, by the initiated, with tepid vocabulary. And odds are such practitioners realize that the more skill they cultivate, the more enjoyable this art becomes. Jiu Jitsu gives us the opportunity to aspire toward maximal efficacy, and in so doing, reveals the ineffable value of such pursuits.

Our time on this earth is brief. While we are here, we must choose a worthy ideal and doggedly work toward its actualization. The harder we work, and the more efficient we work, the more effective we will be at manifesting our will in the world.

Jiu Jitsu teaches us the ability to optimally pursue a goal, making the most of our limited resources as we ascend the heights of personal development. We hone this skill on the mats and then we use it to change our world.

The greatest benefits of training Jiu Jitsu often have nothing to do with Jiu Jitsu…

Post Script:

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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