A large percentage of what we do in our lives is automatic. Our daily activities are often the product of the habits that we’ve carved out for ourselves over time. All habits have one fundamental thing in common: they were learned by repetition – much like our Jiu-Jitsu techniques. When we repeat an action enough times it creates neuronal pathways in our brains – at which point we are pretty much on autopilot. These habits can be good or bad, resulting in a positive or negative consequence. The effects of habits in people’s lives are incalculable.
HABITS AND JIU JITSU
Grand Masters Carlos and Helio Gracie were well aware of the impact of habits. For nearly a century they propagated a way of life that promoted positive habits. In particular they stressed proper sleep, diet and exercise.
That’s why it is not uncommon to hear certain Professors say things like: “Eating right is Jiu-Jitsu.” “Taking care of your body and mind is Jiu-Jitsu.” “Saying no to negative influences is Jiu-Jitsu.” In essence, the cultivation of positive habits and avoidance of negative habits is one of the higher forms of Jiu-Jitsu.
JIU JITSU AS A HIGH LEVERAGE HABIT
Habits and their effects can be big or small. A high leverage habit is something that can have a major impact on your life. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a high leverage habit. Why? Because it is a single activity that can positively affect a wide range of critical habit areas.
THE MOST POPULAR POSITIVE HABITS
Here is a list of some of the most popular positive habits that people would like to have. Let’s take a quick look at the impact Jiu-Jitsu can have in these areas:
- Exercise. This is by far the most popular habit that people would like to incorporate. Most people want to lose weight and be more fit. BJJ is one of the most complete forms of exercise available. People who regularly train Jiu-Jitsu will likely get into the best shape of their lives.
- Diet / Healthy Eating. This is easily the second most popular positive habit. Ever since it’s inception, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been associated with healthy eating. After a Jiu-Jitsu training session, you will have a natural desire to eat healthy. Improving your diet and being more informed about nutrition in general becomes a habit for most BJJ practitioners.
- Sleep. Proper sleep has a major impact on our physiology, and is therefore a major factor in human performance. Few things teach you the importance of getting adequate rest as a physically and mentally demanding Jiu-Jitsu training session.
- Learning a New Skill. Many people have the desire to learn a new skill as a way of testing themselves, improving their lives, and keeping things interesting. Perhaps they even want to gain the benefits of being on the road to mastery. Not only does BJJ captivate your mind and body, BJJ is a skill that could literally save your life!
- Stress Reduction. Stress is a known killer. Many people would like to reduce the chronic stress and anxiety that they feel. Is there anything better than Jiu-Jitsu for reducing stress?
- Meditation. There are many benefits to be had from meditation, and many people would like to make it a part of their lives, but find it challenging. BJJ is Moving Meditation. After training Jiu-Jitsu you will likely find yourself in a more meditative frame of mind.
- Brain Exercises. Jiu-Jitsu stimulates the mind because it is a problem-solving activity. Some people like Sudoku, other people may enjoy a crossword. BJJ is like human chess – it is never boring, always changing, and always challenging.
If you were to incorporate these desirable habit areas into your life independently, it might take 4 – 8 hours of your day. Yet you can reap all of these benefits simultaneously from one activity – Jiu-Jitsu. Plus we get the added bonus of being able to defend ourselves or others. That is a pretty big bonus!
It is for these reasons and more that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a high leverage habit.
We sometimes need to remind ourselves of all the benefits we receive from our practice. We should not take our training for granted. It can be surprising when we realize just how much value our Jiu-Jitsu training gives us. Keep the values and benefits of your training in mind – they provide healthy motivation on those days when we would rather be lazy.
What are the habits you find most important to you? What do you think is the highest leverage habit that you could institute in your life?
“Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” – Unknown
“Without health in its whole meaning, there can be no complete happiness.” – Master Carlos Gracie Sr.
“If you do not take care in regard to matters of health, there is no benefit in practicing judo.” – Jigoro Kano