5 Rules of Jiu Jitsu that will Change Your Life Forever

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Rob R Morris

  • A Jiu Jitsu Life
    A Jiu Jitsu Life

Rule Number One: Life’s Return on Investment – Put the Time In.

Anyone who has ever had a conversation about investing understands the concept of return on investment or “ROI.” In layman’s terms it simply means profitability. Based on the investment or what one has put in, what is the return or profit.

In the jiu jitsu world, the guys who are in the gym more often than the other guys are always the best practitioners of the game. Plain and simple, they are better at the techniques, better conditioned and promote faster through the belt ranks. They become the top level guys. The disparity of outcome between the guys who go once a week and the ones who go five times a week is enormous. These guys give great investment to the sport and receive the most dividends.

Malcolm Gladwell speaks of the rule of 10,000 hours in his book Outliers. His concept is perfection in task occurs after you have invested 10,000 hours or repetitions. This is obviously an oversimplification of his idea and there are other contributing factors to success but the idea is ten thousand of anything is a considerable investment as it pertains to our discussion. The return on that investment, as Gladwell’s theory holds, is extreme success in that domain – becoming an outlier. Gladwell associates the success of icons like The Beatles, Bill Gates and many professional athletes to this rule of 10,000 hours. They invested the time and received outlier success in return.

If you want to be the best, you have to invest the time, energy and effort to become the best. You have to do more than the guy or girl standing next to you. You will never become an outlier if you do the same things or give the same effort everyone else does. What you will become is mediocre.

You want a great body? Go to the gym more and eat better than the people around you. You want to be the smartest person in the room? Read more books, have more education, and learn more than the other people in the same room. You want to be the best at your job? Immerse yourself into your work. Showing up for eight hours and robotically going through the motions won’t suffice.

You must avoid getting to a particular comfortable spot in life and then turning on the cruise control mode. The only thing you will accomplish from that is mediocrity. If you give mediocre input, life will return you a mediocre output.

Rule Number Two: Don’t Panic and Tap Out – Learn to Work in Bad Situations.

From a biological standpoint, people seek pleasure and avoid pain. We can’t avoid the way we are hardwired internally, but we must see the shortcomings in that philosophy. If we only sought pleasure and avoided all pain, we would never create an environment of being uncomfortable. The main problem with this notion is that we don’t learn from our successes, we learn from our failures and mistakes. These failures create stronger impressions on our psyche, which create greater learning points than do our successes.

As a young white belt in the jiu jitsu world, the moment someone applied a choke on me I would panic and tap out, or surrender, which ends the fight. It was a scary position to be in and I was afraid of being put to sleep – choked unconscious. As I progressed, I learned that the perceived danger of being rendered unconscious is far greater than the actual danger. In other words, instead of panicking, I learned to relax in these situations. I slowed my breathing and began analyzing the situation I was in.

Understanding which direction the choke is being applied from would lend me to knowing which way to turn to create a little extra space. I quickly learned an extra inch of space made a world of difference in terms of being able to breathe. I could tuck my chin or put my hand in the way, stopping the choke. With this small space, I could begin working my way out of the choke, inch by inch.

Life presents itself in similar ways. When we push ourselves toward growth we risk failure or if something adverse happens to us (life chokes us) we tend to panic and give up or quit – we tap out. That’s the natural response to avoid pain. We prefer to return to an easier or familiar path to seek pleasure. But, this is the wrong approach. If we tapped out every time life applied a choke to us, we would constantly be in a losing posing and would never go any further in life.

We have two lives. The life we live and the life we want to live. What separates the two is fear. Fear of failure or rejection. The life we live is safe, whereas the life we want presents perceived danger. We must fight forward beyond the fear to live the life we want to live, that’s the only fulfilling life there is. Albeit easier, the safe life is not fulfilling and typically lacks meaning and purpose. We must put ourselves in uncomfortable positions and forge forward toward that fulfilling, purposeful life. When life tries to choke us, remember, slow down and breathe – analyze the situation and work into a better position inch by inch.

Rule Number Three: Check Your Ego at the Door.

Man or woman’s greatest enemy lies within the self – it’s the ego. While a healthy ego is needed for advancement and betterment, an unhealthy ego is destructive and detrimental to your well-being.

I have trained with some serious top notch guys in the jiu jitsu world. When you train with world class athletes, you get used to one thing – losing. Getting choked out by a guy half my size could certainly bruise my ego – if I let it. The fragile ego will quit for self-preservation reasons, while the healthy ego will come back for more, recognizing the growth potential.

The key to success in life is creating a learning environment for yourself. In order to grow, you must surround yourself with people who are better, smarter, more skilled, and more advanced than you are. This is where the law of averages comes into play. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Nothing is truer.

This notion applies to all aspects of your life, professional and personal. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a classroom, board room, or corporate office, if you are the best skilled or smartest person in the room you will never grow in that environment. You have no one to learn from.

You have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and surround yourself by people who are better than you. They will force you to grow. But, and this is the key part, you must check your ego at the door.

The ego only chooses battles you are sure to win. Winning is fuel for the ego. However, you have to fight against this and not give in to the safe approach. You will not grow on the safe path, just like you won’t get rich investing in mutual funds – you need to take risk. Risk requires checking your ego at the door and putting yourself in uncomfortable learning environments.

Rule Number Four: If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail – Always Have a Plan.

As a white belt in jiu jitsu, everyone was better than I was. The only thing I learned early on… survive. As time went on I got better and was able to hold people off a little longer before they had their way with me. But even as I was progressing, I was still in defense mode most of the time – life sort of works like this. Sometimes you feel like you can’t catch a break and you are just surviving in the moment. The moment you get your head above water, the next round of life kicks you and you are back fluttering in the water trying not to get pulled in too deep where you can’t breathe.

Successful jiu jitsu practitioners always have a plan. They look at jiu jitsu like a chess game, where they are always several steps ahead. They are not simply thinking of a particular move in the moment. Rather, they are using a particular move, with the expectation their opponent is going to react a certain way, which leads to the next move – which is the real submission attempt. In other words, they are setting their opponent up with a move, waiting for the expected counter response, and then moving in for the kill.

You must have a plan in life. You wouldn’t hop in the car and just start driving unless you knew where you were going. If it was an unfamiliar place, you would plan out a route on a map and follow that plan until you arrived at your destination. In this process, you know where you are starting from, you know specifically where you are going and you have a direct route to get there. Why would you live your life any differently?

Tony Robbins described two questions you should always ask yourself when making changes or accomplishing something;

1 – What specifically do I want? (What’s the desired outcome?)

2 – What specifically do I need to do to obtain it? (What’s the plan to get it?)

If you apply these two simple questions to everything in your life, you will provide yourself a roadmap with clear direction.

Rule Number Five: Live a Disciplined Life – Mindset is Everything.

When people think of discipline, they typically think of it in negative terms. Even when we talk about people having a disciplined posture (military, police, etc.) we think of them as regimented and inflexible. The truth is, this mentality is completely backwards. The disciplined mind is free.

The jiu jitsu mind is a disciplined mindset. All of these principles described here become a way of life – a way to approach all matters in life, not just while on the mat. And they are applied, no matter what. We all have “tired” days, sick days or even busy days, but that shouldn’t stop the forward progress. The disciplined man or woman drags him/her-self out of bed every day, fights through the challenges and obstacles and pushes forward. The days that you feel positive and good are not the important days you need to train, it’s the days you feel tired, unmotivated or don’t have time that matter most. Pushing through and training on these days trains your mind to fight through obstacles and adversity.

Your mindset is how you will carry out your life. If you are constantly worried about and plagued by fears, you will live a fearful life and never go beyond a safe approach to everything. If you are lazy, you will never put in the extra energy or effort that is needed to take your life to the next level. If you have a victim mentality, you will see yourself as the victim of life’s circumstances and you will never get beyond that role. If you can’t be honest with yourself and own your shortcomings, you will always point the finger elsewhere when something goes wrong in your life.

Your life is created in your mind long before you live it out in reality. That life is determined by your mindset. The one thing that is equal to all men and women is time. There is not a single person who has an advantage of more time than his/her counterpart. While we have varying degrees of intelligence, strength, resilience, support, ability, etc., we are all equal on the playing field of time. The difference in your outcomes is how you spend that twenty-four hour period of time each day. Change what you do and think within that twenty-four hours and you will change your outcome and life forever.

Click HERE for a copy of my new book, Opposite Man – Surviving After Abuse and Breaking Free of Victim Stereotypes.



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