Ego in BJJ and Life

4 min read
Why ego matters and how it impacts you on and off the mats

Ego in BJJ and Life

Why ego matters, how it impacts you on and off the mats, and what you can do to use ego for your advantage and betterment

Location: Sherwood Park, Alberta

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Most people have heard the word ‘ego.’ However, many people probably do not really understand what ego truly means, how it relates to their personality, and its effects on how they and others perceive them. The most basic explanation for ego is that it’s the perception of yourself in relation to the everyday world around you. And depending on the relationship with your ego, it can have either a positive or negative effect in your daily life. Taking a step back to analyze yourself and consider how you react to everyday situations can help you better understand yourself and if your ego is an asset or an obstacle.

So how does all this talk about ‘ego’ apply to jiu-jitsu? After all, how can having an overconfident, arrogant ego hurt your growth and development on and off the mats? And in what ways can having a healthy, honest ego help your development on and off the mats?… We’ll dive into these questions in just a moment, but one overarching idea to keep in mind is that finding a happy medium in how you view your strengths and weaknesses can have an immensely positive impact on your personal growth.

The Range
On one end of the spectrum, everyone knows someone who can only be described as arrogant and overly pretentious. These people think they are better than everyone else around them and aren’t willing to listen to anyone but the most perfectly made person in the world, themselves, of course. On the other end, everyone also knows someone who doesn’t believe in themselves. They may have the best guard in the world but don’t have the confidence to showcase it. Either side is not ideal, and most people fall somewhere in the middle overall and to one side in one or two particular life topics/aspects individual to each person.

BJJ and Ego
So, with this apparent life impingement we see many people face, can we help remedy it? What if I told you the answer was a resounding yes and not from the typical counseling or rebuke intensive methods, but from the art of BJJ. BJJ is actually one of the best examples of something that creates a healthy ego. For example, when you step on the mats and roll, you can’t lie about your skill or knowledge. You either have it, or you don’t.

One of the main reasons many people quit after trying jiu-jitsu is the humbling experience they get after being submitted by someone much more petite and potentially younger. We have all been there, and it’s not the best feeling in the world. But realizing that there is always room for improvement and that you can learn something from anyone is the first step in personal growth on and off the mats.

Mistakes. You can’t be afraid to make them. Trying new things and working on your weaknesses is the only way to grow and create your own style. If you go into class every day and avoid rolling or putting yourself in positions where you can’t lose, you miss a huge point. If you only use your “A” game because that’s what works, you will have a hard time getting better.

The best black belts in the world may not lose very often in competition, but they all do at some point. And most openly admit to being submitted by lower belts or equal belts in training. You even hear stories of how they won a World Championship with something shown to them by a lower belt. It’s no coincidence that they are the best in the world. They are comfortable with themselves and are willing to try new things and evolve. Even though they are the ‘best in the world,’ they set aside their ego and take opportunities to learn. “You either win, or you learn” has to be your mindset on and off the mats… and yes, sometimes we “learn” a LOT. But not having the courage to make mistakes will hold you back every time.

It is a bit easier to lie to yourself or others about who you are in day-to-day life. But just like in jiu-jitsu, some of the most successful people in the world set aside their egos and become the best version of themselves. Going out of your comfort zone and trying new things, and knowing you aren’t the absolute best thing in the world is priceless. Everybody starts somewhere. Passing on the knowledge you learn and being realistic, honest, and comfortable with yourself in what you don’t know will only benefit yourself and everyone around you. So, get out there, put your ego in its place and become 1% better every day.



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