What is the value of Jiu Jitsu for living our lives? One of our trainers practices Jiu Jitsu and recommended this interview video with John Danaher, a New Zealander Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, as containing important mental training principles. 

I’m particularly intrigued by the most valuable lesson he suggests that Jiu Jitsu teaches for life: being able to solve problems under stress. Developing this ability truly does help us live as warriors. With it we can relax into the present stress in a calm way and do what needs to be done. 

The short video outlines this value of problem solving under stress. 

Check the longer video for more interesting bridges to life, such as what it means to be an effective coach, channeling violence in helpful ways, and the clarity of competition for revealing who we are inside. 

Incremental complexity of solving problems under stress in short video: (2-½ minutes)

  • Solving problems under stress is just the beginning. 
  • Jiu Jitsu problems are problems unlike any other. The problems aren’t static; they’re dynamic. 
  • You’re dealing with a cognizant, thinking opponent who’s trying to defeat everything you do. In other words, the problem changes every second. The solution you thought would work in one moment, doesn’t work in the next moment. 
  • Not only do you have to solve problems, but you have to solve them at a faster rate than your opponent is solving the problem you’re presenting to them. 

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Bryce Mahoney

    Jiu jitsu for me is mental chess. I have to anticipate my opponents moves and plan my attack. I am almost never waiting to counter, I am on the attack as long as I can be.

    1. Arno

      Hi Bryce, I’ve only done Jiu Jitsu once and I can definitely see what John Danaher is relating about the complexity of problem solving. I like what you’re saying here also. If we’re not on the attack to solve problems then we’ll be defensive, always reacting to the attacks of the opponent. One never wins by always being defensive. Seems like it’s best to provide the problem for the opponent instead of waiting for them to present the problem to us. Of course, the opponent will make moves that we need to defend against, but then to get back in attack mode… Thanks for sharing. Arno

  2. Kai Ewert

    Jiu Jitsu and climbing to me share the appeal of problem solving with body involvement, of challenge, of the problems not being static (different climb (day/conditions/…), different problem). Being on the attack is just one approach. Another is Defend-Escape-Control-Submit (Ryron Gracie). The idea being if you are not comfortable in the stress of a defensive position, what if you then get put there?
    I actually thought from the title of your email and recognizing John Danaher that you would talk about him seeing jiu jitsu as a system. That he identified as the huge advantage of BJJ over other fighting arts. In the chaotic situation of a fight, you will always know what to do on a broad scheme – get to the ground, advance your position, submit the opponent. Even if a step doesn’t work, you’ll know what do do next – start over. I see some similarities to the three stages you talk about Pause/Think – transition – climb/action. In principle you should always know in which of those you are, and if there is an unexpected challenge, you know you want to go back into one of those, not a mix at least.

    1. Arno

      Hi Kai, I don’t do Jiu Jitsu so I’m familiar enough to talk about the whole system. I’m sure it’s very nuanced. I was only sharing about the content of this video. I’d be interested in learning more about it. Do you know a book that gives a helpful introduction to this martial art, that would give it comprehensive treatment? a

  3. Kai Ewert

    Yes, “Mastering Jiu Jitsu” would be the book to go for. That’s where Danaher laid out the most basic system that he discovered in jiu jitsu for the first time. It’s hard to learn jiu jitsu from a book, but for the system this will work

    1. Arno

      Excellent Kai. I’ll check out that book. a

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