Patience And Persistence (A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Lesson)

Be unphased while defending and unrelenting while attacking.

If we are open and receptive to them, many of the skills and lessons learned from Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) transfer over into our lives off the mats. Through rolling (BJJ sparring), we learn over time how to be unphased when we are on the defensive and how to be unrelenting when we are on the offensive. That is to say, we learn how to be calm and patient when we find ourselves under pressure and how to be tenacious and persistent when applying it.

When we are under pressure, when we are under attack, if we become impatient and lose our heads, we make mistakes that could result in our defeat. The squirming and flailing that come with fear only prove to make our situation worse, exposing us even further, giving our adversary more openings through which to attack. The path to escaping or reversing a bad position is found through both the maintaining of our own integrity and the calm, patient, and strategic application of leverage in the proper direction(s).

Once we are out of danger, we must begin moving forward unrelentingly, doing our best to stay ahead of the blocks, counters, and reversals that we will inevitably confront along our path. This is not the time to look back nor is it the time to be reckless, and we must always understand our own strengths and weaknesses so as to protect our flanks, but, once we gain traction, we can not give up our ground. If we are to be victorious in our endeavor, we must move decisively and aggressively forward, always being careful to neither over nor under-commit in the direction of our desired outcome.


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.

Photo of Robert Van Valkenburgh at Kogen Dojo by Mike Oswald Photography

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