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BJJ and Toxic Individuals


I’m not the kind of person who willingly embraces blanket statements.  When I hear one of these unilateral claims, I tend to quietly start a fact-check in my mind to test the durability of that statement.

But as I continue on my own BJJ journey, I’m starting to give credence to the claim that “BJJ will change your life.”

The change, though, isn’t as much a physical change as a mental one.  Granted, I’ve seen clear improvements in my health, but these don’t seem as monumental as the changes in my outlook toward the world.

Like many people, I’ve come to see my academy as a sanctuary.  But it’s taken me a while to figure out exactly what it’s a sanctuary from.

In part, it’s a sanctuary from my own thoughts and worries.  I don’t have time for them on the mat. I’ve gotta stop this dude from choking me.  But there’s something else. And I’ve finally put my finger on exactly what it is.

BJJ seems to be a natural repellant for toxic individuals.

I know that not everyone who trains there holds the same political opinions as I do, but these never come up.  And, truthfully, these opinions aren’t the most important thing. What’s really important is whether the person is a drain on my energy.

Psychology Today lists the characteristics of toxic people.  They are manipulative, judgmental, inconsistent, unapologetic, indifferent, and unsupportive.  They also refuse to take responsibility for their own feelings and expect you to deal with them instead.

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In short, they are the people in your life who expect everything to always be all about them.

As Psychology Today explains: “Toxic people are draining; encounters leave you emotionally wiped out. Time with them is about taking care of their business, which will leave you feeling frustrated and unfulfilled, if not angry. Don’t allow yourself to become depleted as a result of giving and giving and getting nothing in return. At first, you may feel for them and their plight but once you observe that every interaction is negatively charged you may want to limit your contact with them, or maybe even cut ties.

The beautiful thing about the dojo is that a toxic individual won’t stick around for long.  Unlike the workplace, the dojo isn’t a place where they can manipulate other people with abandon.  On the mat, your attempts to manipulate your training partner are matched by their attempts to manipulate you.

For a toxic individual, this is a terrible situation.  They don’t want an equal playing field.

Likewise, no one on the mat cares about their judgments.  And if they are inconsistent and don’t show up on the mat with any regularity, they are the only ones who suffer.  They simply won’t become tight with their fellow students and will always feel isolated.

The same goes for people who are unapologetic, indifferent, or unsupportive.  They won’t fit in.

On the mats, you have to give as much as you get.  There’s no other way. If you try to make every roll all about you and never about your training partner, you’ll find yourself without anyone to train with.

As I begin to piece together why I find the dojo so peaceful, I also realized how much that sense of peace has begun reshaping my life outside the academy.

Basically, I’ve seen how good life is when the toxic people are absent.  And I want MORE of that.

I find myself walking away from people more and more often.  I find myself thinking that “I don’t have time for this person.”

The co-worker who likes to stroll the hallways seeking sympathy for every tedious detail of his life gets ignored.  I no longer allow them to drain my energy. They don’t give anything to me in turn, so I no longer feel obliged to give them anything.

I make an excuse and abandon the know-it-all colleague who always has to be right and tries to take away hours of my life explaining how much he knows.  

Seeing what life is like without these people, I’ve started removing them.  The result is a life that is pared down from what it was before. I don’t freely label anyone or everyone as a friend anymore.  So, I don’t have as many friends as I used to. But the ones I have are real. It’s a matter of quality over quantity—and it makes all the difference.

So, yeah, BJJ has changed my life.  I feel better now that I’ve shed some unnecessary pounds and pared myself down.  And I’ve shed some unnecessary “friends,” and that feels great, too!


The Road To Black Belt and Beyond by Tom DeBlass

The Road To Black Belt And Beyond By Tom DeBlass is the most recent DeBlass instructional. It is Unlike ANY other instructional available. DeBlass dives into what it takes to have a Black Belt Mindset! Revolutionize your game by having a rock solid Mindset!



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