Dec 272017

Fail-ure (fāl′yər)


1. The condition of not achieving the desired end or ends: the failure of an experiment.
2. One that fails: failure at one’s career.
3. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short: crop failure.
4. cessation of proper functioning or performance: power failure.
5. Nonperformance of what is requested or expected; omission: failure to 
report a change of address.
6. The act or fact of failing to pass a course, test, or assignment.
7. decline in strength or effectiveness.
8. The act or fact of becoming bankrupt or insolvent.


After reading the definition of the word, it’s easy to see why it is viewed by society as an “ugly” word and it sounds a lot worse that it really is.  Unfortunately, we were taught at a young age that failure is a bad thing and we ended up putting a lot of needless pressure on ourselves to be a SUCCESS; whether we were trying to be successful in academics, athletics, or our careers.

Maybe the word-smiths should add one more and probably the most important definition: 9. The natural process of learning.

What follows is an article that I came across on that I hope you find to be a good read; whether you are just getting started on you Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey or you have been training for over a decade.

The Chosen Path: Why Failure Is Important In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Are you on the path to achieving your dreams? If not, I guarantee that it is because you are terrified of failure. To improve your jiu-jitsu, you must put yourself in a life-or-death position — possibly a little extreme but you get my point — literally hundreds of times in your first few months as a white belt. Submitting to someone says, “I acknowledge that my physical safety is completely in your hands,” which is a difficult admission for most to accept.

Jiu-jitsu teaches you to manage the humiliation and emotional dump that comes with failure. Failing at jiu-jitsu desensitizes you to failing in life, the only way you can begin to succeed.

There is a story of a Native American grandfather talking to his grandson. He explained that we all have two wolves within us. One of the wolves is selfish, controlling, greedy, impatient, restless, cruel, unfocused, undisciplined, and only thinks about immediate gratification. The other is kind, unselfish, compassionate, calm, understanding, patient, focused, confident, disciplined, and thinks long term.

The grandson asks, “Which one wins?”

The grandfather answers, “Whichever one you feed.”

Now I never fully understood this story until I reread it again just recently, and like most things over the last four years (you can ask my kids and wife), I immediately related this straight back to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and this is why.

One really important part of your development in jiu-jitsu is how you deal with being tapped. A bad wolf`s reaction would be to get revenge, to avoid rolling with that person, or to rationalize what happened and make excuses: “I had an off day,” or “I was injured,” or “I was not feeling great.”

I think back to a Monday class a couple of years ago now. It was the night after my coach had fought Michelle Nicolini at BOA. Now, if you saw the fight you know the result; however, Josephine still came in to the gym to take the class and was full of energy and smiles. When she was asked about the fight result, all she said was, “What an amazing experience. I got to roll with the best in the world. How can I be upset?” I am pretty sure the smile is still on Jo’s face. This leads me in to the good wolf.

The good wolf reaction is to figure out what you did wrong. You may know what you should have done to prevent or escape the submission, or you may not know what to do.

The proper response when you get tapped is, “Good job,” and or “Thank you” or my favorite response (just ask any of my training partners), “What the f**k was that and how the f**k do I stop it???” From there, I will spend some time drilling techniques that will prevent or defend the submission that I just got caught in.

If you read any motivational authors or listen to speakers who speak of success, you will notice the one key point they all bring up at one stage or another is that the key to success in life, business, or in any art form is persistence through failure. Anyone that has ever achieved greatness in any endeavor has failed time and time again. It is their intestinal fortitude and willingness to pick themselves up and try again no matter the circumstances.

Are you a person who takes responsibility for your actions, doesn’t blame others, make excuses, or quit when things get difficult? Do you see failure as an important component of success? Or are you a person who only focuses on winning and not learning, someone who only looks for immediate gratification? I would like to think that I am the good wolf. Which one are you?

Your response to failure in jiu-jitsu, which will happen hundreds to thousands of times, is the repetition of a mental and emotional habit. The beauty of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu journey is how you react to those frustrations. If you quit every time, things will get hard and you will not get far. This is the same with life. If you quit every time things get difficult, you will not learn anything from the situation. It shapes your character. It makes you who you are.

I believe Brazilian jiu-jitsu has more to teach someone than just techniques. Techniques are vital, but it’s the learning process, practice, and frustrations that come along that will change you. One of the greatest saying I have heard sums this up perfectly: “There is no winning or losing, only learning.”

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