Belts and Stripes – Jiu-Jitsu, A Humbling Sport

I don’t know about other martial arts, but in Jiu-Jitsu, which I practice for three years now, I noticed one subtle yet big fact, that follows the art as I’ve been practicing it. Jiu-Jitsu itself is in charge of keeping the good students while flushing the bad ones out. Now you’re thinking to yourself, but wasn’t of the biggest lines to get into this Martial Art like, “Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone?”

It is! Allow me to explain.


Jiu-Jitsu is harsh. There’s no other way around. When you enter on the mat for the first time, there will be people there who have been practicing the art for weeks, some for months, and others even for years. It is no surprise that you will be smashed for the first semester or even longer until you learn the basics so that you can survive. Now what I really meant above was, there are no bad students. The rate at which you learn Jiu-Jitsu matters, but it isn’t a deciding factor for the art to naturally expel you. Like in all places, people attending classes range from a whole different variety of personalities and physical shapes with strengths/weaknesses.


Although some people may quit over physical weakness, I’ve not seen that case within my academy. However, there are some traits that I see now and take into consideration as to wonder if a certain student will keep training, or simply quit after a while. For this post, I’ll just point out the three major ones that I’ve noticed, but as well as to keep the post short.

  • Laziness.

Obviously, right? But what happens if you skip the normal routine lessons, let’s say, 2/3 lessons a week? If you take a lesson a week, for a month in comparison to the colleagues that attend to 2/3, you’ll begin to notice a slight difference in your skill level. After 3 months in that rhythm, people who entered at the same time as you will be beating you with relative ease, which will turn out to be incredibly discouraging and will probably lead to the student in question to quit.

  • Being a Smartass.

There’s a difference between asking relevant questions mid training and asking about anything and everything, disproving the position being taught by the professor by adding ifs and a whole lot of variants. And why is this a problem? Because if you keep asking and thinking about disproving the position, are you really absorbing it? There are counters to everything in human chess, so why won’t you focus on the basics first, before anything else? Have some humility before your professor and classmates. If you don’t and Jiu-Jitsu still fails to instill it in you, I doubt you will persevere in this Martial Art.

  • Arrogance.

Humble in victory. Gracious in defeat. People who brag about their performance, balneary talks about egos and whatever else, will lead you down a path where you won’t find Jiu-Jitsu at its best and eventually, may also lead you to be cast aside if you are not shaped into a better form. If you like to keep tabs on everyone who beats you and of whom you beat, you won’t let yourself go in this art. Jiu-Jitsu is about taking risks to perform the positions you learn in the classes. If at the point of rolling you won’t let yourself evolve just to win, then what are you really learning? Your classmates’ game will improve, while yours will remain the same until the point that everyone already gets accustomed to yours and suddenly… There’s no one else you can beat. Eventually, you’ll grow frustrated with that and you’ll stop attending the classes.

All these cases, I’ve seen them happen, some more than once, unfortunately. However, all of these factors can be changed, if you simply let the art that Jiu-Jitsu is, change you! It is humbling, it is rich in knowledge thus keeping your head busy from your life outside of the mat, and you will eventually bond with people who have the same energy as you. People who endure in Jiu-Jitsu attract like-minded individuals and even if you have some flaws, if you keep practicing it will eventually shape you into a better version of yourself, I have no doubt about that!


If you happen to be around Oporto, Portugal, stop by ZrTeam Póvoa de Varzim and visit my team there, you’ll be welcome and we can always use some new training!

Happy rolls everyone and play safe! Oss!

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