Jiu Jitsu, Education, and a Conceptual Framework

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

My higher education began the day I started Jiu Jitsu. This is not hyperbole. I graduated university with high marks, but always felt that organized education was a haphazard formality feigning true learning. This is particular to my experience, but I infer, something experienced by many.

One of the greatest obstacles to learning is lacking a conceptual framework through which to view the education you acquire. To the uninitiated, finding the interwoven threads which link multiple disciplines can prove difficult, and it is often only when we embark on cross-disciplinary studies that we can truly see individual disciplines.

Education is a tool, but without a tool belt to hold, organize, and make accessible the tools we acquire, what we have learned has little utility.

Jiu Jitsu is this tool belt which has organized my thinking.

My academic education has run parallel with my progress in Jiu Jitsu. This is because to progress in Jiu Jitsu one must develop a conceptual framework with which to ascertain and implement education: learning principles, fundamentals, and concepts which can be extrapolated into a lens through which to view all experience, rather than simply learning individual techniques themselves.

Our class structure, like academia, has always followed a curriculum consisting of purposeful progression and assimilation of varying concepts. No longer learning in a vacuum, but toward a preconceived ideal of self-improvement, Jiu Jitsu has shown me that all my prior education lacked the proper context with which to be applied liberally across my life.

Creativity is a product of limitation, and the more difficult the problem, the greater the potential for a profound answer.

Jiu Jitsu is an infinite problem of efficiency and effectivness expressed through the finite. It’s vastness requires a proper conceptual framework to even attempt to understand this discipline. It is this necessary by-product, the sincere attempt to build a conceptual framework through which to interpret experience, develop principles, and implement education against everchanging variables, which forces the practitioner to change the way they interact with the world.

Both Jiu Jitsu and life are problem solving. But rather than responding reactively to circumstance, Jiu Jitsu gives us the tools to objectively observe the situation, know where we need to go, and develop a systematic approach to achieve that destination.

“Only the educated are free.”- Epictetus

But we must not stop there.

Only the educated are free because they have constructed a proper conceptual framework through which to acquire, organize, and appropriately use the tools of education toward achieving their highest selves.

Jiu Jitsu’s complexity forces us to find our own. When we live in a world of abstractions, ideas rather than the things themselves, the tools of education can easily be utilized across every area of life, because we learn to see the theory behind the forms which are expressed.

Jiu Jitsu teaches us to view the world in mental abstractions, helping us see beyond the illusion that different areas of study exist on isolated islands. Different subjects do no make up lonely islands; they make up an archipelago. And it is a sound education which allows us to quickly hop from discipline to discipline with a conceptual framework that can be used in any area of study.

This is the value of education. And this is what Jiu Jitsu teaches us.


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