The pitfalls of short-term thinking in jiu-jitsu.

Don’t become the victim of short-term thinking. It is completely unacceptable for anyone practicing the martial arts to get into a street fight for any reason other than to save your life or a loved one’s life. Avoid it at all costs. The risks are great, the quote-unquote glory is non-existent, and the nonsense can be terminal. One of our mandates as instructors is encouraging students to take the long view when it comes to training – so if you feel like you need to “prove” something, whether it has to do with your martial arts or your ego or both, drop it. Actually, your insecurities belong on the mat, where you can tame them and manage them and deal with them…not in the street.

Speaking of short-term thinking, I was reading something sort of troubling on the interweb about the Jiu-Jitsu communities and instructors bashing of this idea of “S-training”, or light & technical training. They claim that “all” of the world champions train with a bone-crushing, smash-or-be-smashed attitude, and that it’s the only course to follow if someone wants to be really good at Jiu-Jitsu. This is another instance of the Jiu-Jitsu community mistaking the effect for the cause. It happens when a person assumes that one event must cause another just because the events occur together.

I just want to be clear that this training approach – go hard or go home – is not what we’re doing inside our schools, and that I consider it a very elitist approach to thinking about Jiu-Jitsu. It’s like a parent thinking their kid, who plays in the little league and goes to weekend games because he wants to have fun, is going to grow up to be the next Mark McGuire or Derek Jeter. Instead of just letting them have fun and enjoy themselves, they push them to the brink and create monsters that go on to a life of doping, dog-fighting and spousal abuse. It is a ridiculous notion, and irresponsible and shortsighted.

What it does is to put the earnest, serious practitioner that’s hopeful about a ten, twenty, thirty year arc to their training in jeopardy. See, many bloggers – and lots of instructors – don’t have a consideration for that kind of student. Many people only want to hang their ego on a medal, whether it’s their own or their student’s, and when their career is done they’re on to the next thing.

You can trust me on this one, not only because I’ve seen it but I’ve actually been a part of it. I have been part of the madness…part of the problem.

The old saying goes, “get what you can get while the getting is good”. That’s the opportunist’s credo, and it’s out of place in a martial art environment. Opportunists can easily cloak themselves in “sport” and in “the fight”. Once their fight career is over, they couldn’t care less about the state of Jiu-Jitsu, to say nothing of the injuries they’ve caused to their partners and students and themselves in the process.

So please try not to be hypnotized. We are operationalizing a very healthy, functional, effective way to get students to black belt and beyond. And not only will you do it, but you’ll do it intact. You won’t have to lose your values, your morals, your compassion, your connection, your relationships. If we have our way, there will be ups and downs, but the only thing that’ll take a permanent hit in the process is your ego, which is good no matter how long you’ve been training.


For more about the larger project of cooperative Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training, visit the Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brooklyn BJJ) website here .

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