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Jiu Jitsu and Analytical Thinking

The very first line on the Gracie Barra website states:

‘The benefits of Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are far reaching and will touch every aspect of your life.’

This statement couldn’t be closer to the truth if it tried.


I recently moved to Glasgow for University and have been interested in doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for quite a while, but unfortunately there aren’t any facilities available back home – so when I moved through I jumped at the opportunity to train at Gracie Barra.


Since then I have been completely consumed with the art form, and the way of life. I’m constantly thinking and talking Jiu Jitsu and it drives my girlfriend crazy! I’ve never been the kind of person to enjoy working out but the beauty of BJJ is that you get results without realising it. I’m not a large guy and I was shocked when I realised that I had lost 1stone since I started. I think it’s due to a BJJ influenced change of diet and all of the classes I attend. Although I hate working out, I’ve actually started to do a kettle bell work out 3 times a week, not to get ripped but for the sole purpose of trying to improve at Jiu Jitsu.


However, Jiu Jitsu has changed my life in other ways apart from my health and fitness. The reasoning and problem solving you develop is incredible.


What I think is a pretty unique thing to Jiu Jitsu is that unlike Boxing, Muay Thai and other combat based sports, people don’t tend to get paid in Jiu Jitsu until they reach the highest of levels. Hypothetically I could train Muay Thai for 8 months and then enter a fight and get paid to do it, however in Jiu Jitsu YOU have to pay to compete. It’s all about self-development and proving something to yourself, without additional influencing factors such as ‘how much you will be paid’.


You have to realise that in order to progress, not only as a person but also as a martial artist you have to be capable of adapting to situations that are laid out in front of you. Let me explain this a little further;


As a white belt with one only one tab, I am very much aware that my knowledge of techniques is very limited.


However I am aware of the ones I know and what I don’t know. So when I am faced with the opponent of a similar level, or someone of a higher level you can instantly begin to assess what you’re going to have to do in order to essentially ‘survive’ against this person.


When facing another person from your academy around the same level as yourself, you know that they have been taught exactly the same things that you have, which instantly begins a game of back and forth attempts to see who can be the first one to sweep the other. They know I’m going to try a sit up sweep, or a scissor sweep. They know how I’m going to break the guard or how my transition to mount is going to be carried out so they are already preparing to defend it. This is why you have to begin to try and outwit your opponent by using the same techniques, except trying to surprise your opposition by throwing them off guard and successfully landing your intended technique.


When faced with an opponent of a higher grade that yourself, you must respect that they are probably more knowledgeable than you are and that they are very much aware of what techniques you are going to try.


This is why you must try and mix your game up a little. For example, if I’m playing guard, I really doubt that I’m going to be able to sweep them with my limited techniques, so instead of laying in guard and waiting to be passed, why not open my guard and try a transition to Spider guard? By mixing it up a little, you can begin to develop your own style while trying to help develop your opponent’s abilities of passing spider guard as opposed to lying in guard like a chump. Realistically, you aren’t going to win this fight, so why not reflect on your roll and take away knowledge from it? People say that the first thing to that gets hurt when doing Jiu Jitsu is the ego.


It is this analytical thinking that you can begin to start using on a day to day basis – for example, in my studies I am encountering many patients within a hospital environment and by breaking down the symptoms (you’re opponent) of your patient and applying analytical thinking (your tactics or knowledge), you start to realise that you are indeed very capable of diagnosing the problems and being able to continue with your laid out plans or alternatively down a different route if plan A doesn’t work. That is only a mere example of how Jiu Jitsu can help in your day to day life, it doesn’t matter if you’re working in a bank, a hospital or a grocery store everyday in your life you will encounter a problem based scenario that you must solve.


The brilliant thing about Jiu Jitsu is that they have the tabbing system which works not only as a trophy of self progression, but as a device to keep you interested in pursuing that next tab and that next belt, all while improving your health, fitness and abilities in the sport. While I’m only sitting on my first tab, I already know that I don’t plan on tapping out of Jiu Jitsu any time soon!


by iluminari

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