Why do you train Jiu-Jitsu?

Why do you train Jiu-Jitsu?

Why do you train Jiu-Jitsu?

Jiu-Jitsu is a scientific martial art that is always seeking the most effective and efficient way to stay safe and achieve victory in a fight. 

It is, I believe, the most effective martial art in the world. 

However, as dominant as Jiu-Jitsu is, how to fight is really only one piece of the puzzle. 

We also need to know why we fight. 

Defining your mission and purpose in your martial arts practice is something that’s not talked about enough, because there is enormous power in taking the time to really dig deep and find your personal why

I’ve mentioned before how most experts estimate 99% of people quit Jiu-Jitsu before they make it to black belt. 

I’m not sure what the exact number would be, but I bet we could recover at least 50% of those people if, at the beginning of their Jiu-Jitsu journey, they took the time to sit down and write out why Jiu-Jitsu is so important to them. 

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” - Friedrich Nietzsche


Much more than drive.

The obvious reason defining your why is so important is because Jiu-Jitsu is by its nature an extremely challenging endeavor, and staying in touch with what drives you will help you overcome these challenges. 

Injuries, frustration, feelings of failure, fear, insecurity, ego… there are steep cliffs to scale at every turn, internal and external. 

But when you have a strong reason why clearly defined, none of that matters. It’s always clear why to move forward, and how to make good decisions, because you know what your purpose is and why you’re here. 

But even though that is essential, there is actually much more to why than just that. 

You are part of a team, whether you realize it or not.

Jiu-Jitsu might seem like an individual sport or martial art, like golf or swimming. 

But actually, there are no such things as individual sports or martial arts. 

Because when you show up to class, you and everyone in that room are feeding off of each other. We can’t help it. Human beings are social creatures who are constantly broadcasting our attitudes, thoughts, worries, hopes, dreams, etc.

We’ve all felt this. When someone pushes the pace while we’re rolling, we feel like we have to push the pace back just to survive. When someone takes the time to ask how we’re doing, we feel like they care and reply in kind. When someone is on top of the world, loose, has a good sense of humor, it’s infectious and spreads quickly. 

So when everyone is feeling good, driven and doing their best to help each other, Jiu-Jitsu class can be an amazing experience. 

On the other hand, when someone has a bad attitude, or even worse, if the instructor is showing up with a bad attitude, everyone can feel it and everyone suffers for it. 

The best defense we have against this is to take the time to clearly define our mission and purpose. When we show up knowing why we’re here, enthusiastic about learning and helping each other learn, we not only keep ourselves in the best possible state to make maximum progress, but we give that to our teammates as well and create an environment everyone benefits from.

Knowing your why is so powerful, it actually makes your body healthier, especially your brain. 

One last note about why this is so important. Then we’ll talk about one of the best ways to find your why and get it all clearly laid out. 

This is a quote from a book called “Words Can Change Your Brain” by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman. 

“According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, 'Reflecting on personal values can keep neuroendocrine and psychological responses to stress at low levels.' This is truly amazing: by simply pondering and affirming your deepest values you’ll improve the health of your brain, you’ll protect yourself from burnout at work, you’ll reduce your propensity to ruminate about failure, and you’ll be less reactive and defensive when someone confronts you with uncomfortable information."

Newberg, Andrew; Waldman, Mark Robert. Words Can Change Your Brain (p. 104). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

So how do we find our “why”?

There’s actually a systematic way you can do this. 

And it comes from Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System. 

In the 80s, Japan exploded into a powerhouse of industrial production that took the world by storm. No other country could keep up, neither in volume or in quality. 

One of their biggest assets to become such an incredible force on the economic world stage was to focus on building systems of production, and Taiichi Ohno was one of the leaders of this charge. 

Introducing: The 5 Whys of Jiu-Jitsu

On the production line, Taiichi Ohno used “The 5 Whys” to get to the heart of any problem. This allowed him to build an ever improving production line, because he was able to sort out any problem that came up effectively and efficiently. 

It’s exactly as simple as it sounds, but like all things in Jiu-Jitsu, there is great power in simplicity. 

Asking why five times in a row, Ohno found, was reliable to get to the root cause of an issue. 

Today, we’ll be asking ourselves The 5 Whys for Jiu-Jitsu, to get at the root cause of our mission and purpose. 

First though, I believe it would help to show an example. This is one of Taiichi Ohno’s favorite examples to use to teach The 5 Whys, about a robot that malfunctioned on the Toyota production line: 

  1. “Why did the robot stop?”

The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.

  1. “Why is the circuit overloaded?”

There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.

  1. “Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?”

The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.

  1. “Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?”

The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.

  1. “Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?”

Because there is no filter on the pump.

Make sense? 

Now it’s your turn. 

And actually, I’ve made a form you can fill out to make this as easy as possible. 

If you’re ready to dig deep into why you practice Jiu-Jitsu, to get your deepest values and mission and purpose clearly defined, then click the link below to get to the 5 Whys of Jiu-Jitsu form. 

You’ll see the option on this form to send your answers to you by email so you have them whenever you need them. 

I recommend revisiting them often. I’m sure your answers will evolve as you evolve, but that’s a good thing. Just being in touch with your values, reflecting on them regularly, will keep you on the right path, and give you all the benefits we discussed above. 

Click here to get your 5 Whys of Jiu-Jitsu form.


Happy training!


- Henry

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