Jiu-Jitsu Letter


The idea that you need to compete “at least once” is pretty common. I suspect it’s just repeated a lot by those who’ve competed, so it just keeps getting repeated.

When someone takes up golf, does anyone tell them they have to “compete”? How about riding a bicycle, or dancing, or any number of activities one wants to participate in? If we talk about combat sports, people take up boxing, but they aren’t told they need to fight in a “real” match to “test” themselves.

People who’ve competed, and who say it’s so important to enter a tournament seem to me to be doing so out of a need to be consistent1. It’s human nature. Once one forms an opinion, they feel like they can’t change their mind. But it’s the evolved person who can change his mind, not caring about the outsider watching who dumbly calls out someone for it. You’re supposed to change your mind sometimes. It means you’re capable of learning.

I had a conversation with friends about this topic recently. Having a medal or two could be good for marketing. It could be shorthand for a prospect to see that I’m an effective jiu-jitsu teacher, even though it’s lazy thinking and wrong. And then I started thinking about whether a student who’s looking for that is right for my school anyway. No, of course not. The people that have been the biggest PITA to me have been the ones who’ve either trained elsewhere before or done a bunch of online “research.”2 We’re not right for everyone today, but we are eventually.

Will I ever compete? Maybe? I don’t know. I don’t care to today, but I did once, and I may want to again later. I can change my mind. And maybe, just maybe I’ll be one of those people who end up saying it’s important.3

  1. Read Emerson. Read Cialdini. Also, this is how people get sucked into loyalty to bad people. The problem is sometimes we don’t see the bad until we’ve committed, and then it feels hard to move away. ↩︎

  2. Generalizing here, but it’s the types that would ask for advice on r/bjj or Instagram. ↩︎

  3. Doubtful. ↩︎

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