Moving Through Our Egos in Jiu-Jitsu

Life is expressed through motion and our jiu-jitsu should reflect that.

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the best time to attack or sweep is when our opponent is moving to escape or pass and the best time to escape or pass is when our opponent is trying to attack or sweep. Movement creates opportunities. The goal of jiu-jitsu practice, then, should be to move a lot, even if it means getting submitted, swept, or passed a lot because we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.

By moving a lot, decisively and with purpose, we are sure to make a lot of mistakes and our better opponents will capitalize on these mistakes. The better our opponent, the more quickly and surely our mistakes will be used against us. This is the path of learning, however, so we should embrace it by being willing to move a lot and lose a lot in order to learn a lot.

Nothing is gained from sitting or standing still. There is no submission, no sweep, no pass, and no escape that does not require movement. The sooner we begin to move, through our fears, insecurities, and losses, the sooner we will find mental-emotional calm and stillness in our movements until the only thing that can stop us from moving forward toward our goals, whether position or submission, is the truly better opponent and, for that, we should thank them and try again.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Street art photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh, artist unknown unless otherwise noted.

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