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The Importance of Ego in Jiu Jitsu



From the first day that we start learning jiu jitsu, we are also taught that the ego is toxic.  We are taught to abandon our pride, and that we either win or we learn.  From the first day that we start learning jiu jitsu, we are misled to some degree.  The ego is crucial to anyone who really wants to be exceptional.

If you have truly abandoned your ego, why do you want to win?  The desire to win in and of itself is an expression of the ego manifested on the mat.  The more you want to win, the better your chances of winning.  The desire to win is a direct result of your ego and how pronounced it is in regards to your jiu jitsu.

Ego is the reason we care whether or not we win, but at the same time it can at times be a barrier to victory.  If you are unable to see past your own ego, you will surely be incapable of learning from your losses, and you WILL lose.  Everyone loses.

Jiu jitsu is hard on the ego for this reason, we train day in and day out, and at the beginning of any practitioner’s career they are generally the worst in the room.  We go through many different phases, days when we are hammers, and days when we are nails.  It can be unpredictable and unyielding.

Acknowledging and even feeding your ego is a must.  You should become confident enough in your techniques to be able to do them without thinking, without second guessing yourself.  If you hesitate at competition or worse yet in a violent altercation you will be beaten.

The more confident you are in your technique the better that technique will be because in reality you will have that technique at your disposal quicker.  Confidence is a healthy expression of ego.  However we must not confuse cockiness or arrogance with confidence as they are harmful expressions of ego.

Ego as it pertains to sports or martial arts is the valuing of ones own talents or abilities.  It is the recognition of what you are capable of doing and the positive resulting feelings.  However, those feelings if magnified and taken out of proportion can be harmful.

If you value your own abilities or talents so much that loss crushes you, your ego may be unhealthy.  If you think that your rank makes you exempt from tapping to people of lower rank, or that because you hold a specific rank you are superior to people of lower rank on or off the mat, your ego may be being expressed through arrogance.  Remember, what you are capable of doing on the mat doesn’t translate to much off the mat.  A brand new white belt can be a “black belt” at other things in life.  Respect everyone on the mat, never allow your ego to convince you that it’s okay not to respect them.

One can be humble but still have a strong ego.  As long as your self appraisal is accurate and you are self aware your ego is probably healthy.  If you get submitted in competition, do you stay upset after the competition is over, or do you take the information that was presented to you during the match and use it to improve your own training habits?  Ego is a strong motivator and can help any jiujiteiro strive for higher aptitude, and as long as it is kept in check is a powerful tool.

So what does your ego mean to you?  Do you allow it to dictate how you behave on the mat?  Does it motivate or enervate you?  Always make sure you check your ego at the door, but that does not mean you should leave it there.  Just make sure it is in tact, healthy, and that it helps make you want to get better.  When you arrive at competitions, make sure that your ego is healthy enough to gain information from loss, but active enough to make you want to win.

Being mentally prepared for competition is the ultimate way to use the dynamics of ones ego to be truly ready for battle.  Check out this video of jiu jitsu superstar Bernardo Faria talking about the mental side of competition. Also make sure to check out Bernardo’s Instructional DVDs :



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