I was first introduced to the idea of stoicism while listening to Daniele Bolelli’s Podcast “History on Fire.” Since being introduced to this philosophy I have been obsessed with implementing it in my live and my Jiu Jitsu!
For people who don’t know what it is, the philosophy of stoicism for the most part is about not showing a reaction when things go wrong. To be stoic is to not react when there is hardship or when things don’t go wrong. The idea of being stoic dates back to the Greek and Roman empires. I’m not going to go deep into the history of stoicism simply because I’m not much of an authority on it, although it is pretty interesting. The whole reason I’m writing this is because implementing Stoicism into my Jiu Jitsu training has made my training so much better.
So how does acting like a stony faced Roman Emperor help your Jiu Jitsu? Well I’ll tell you! So one of the most evident and immediate ways the being stoic will help you improve in your rolling is the whole not reacting part. When you’re in bottom mount and your partner is smothering you with their chest you have a couple of options, one is to spazz out, try to muscle your way out of it and burn all your energy. The other option is to relax, be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and show no emotion. First of all staying calm will help you reserve your energy and it will allow you to think through how you are going to escape. Secondly it will make your partner second guess themselves if you’re showing no emotion to the fact that they have you in such a bad position. They will say to themselves: maybe he just let me get here. He’s not worried at all, I guess he doesn’t feel in danger. If you watch higher belts roll they don’t freak out or show emotion when they are in good positions or bad positions, they just relax and keep rolling. One of my favorite podcasts is “Jocko Podcast” With Jocko Willink and Echo Charles. For anyone who doesn’t know about Jocko just go listen to his podcast because I wont do him justice, he’s an all around badass Navy SEAL and BJJ black belt. him and Echo were having a conversation on one episode about how Jocko keeps a straight face when he rolls and shows zero emotion. Echo said that this made him think, ‘Dang, I was giving that roll everything I had and Jocko doesn’t even look like he was trying.’ I’m paraphrasing here but I think its close enough to how Echo would have said it. So the whole idea is don’t show emotion and your opponent isn’t going to be able to read you, this is key.
Stoic philosophy is about a lot more than just not reacting, although that is the main base of it. Another aspect of Stoicism is to listen to what people say and learn from people. One of my favourite quotes is from Epictetus “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” I see so many guys who never want to hear about a little detail that someone shows them for a move because they are set in their ways, and I’m guilty of it too. Whenever coach, a higher belt or even a lower belt gives me advice I at least listen and then make my own judgement on whether their advice will fit in my game. If you refuse to listen then you can’t make that judgement for yourself.
I still have a long way to go but trying to be Stoic in all aspects of my life has made me an all around better person and a better Jiu Jitsu practitioner. Mindset is one of the biggest factors that can help you to advance your Training. The mindset of being open to new ideas, being objective as to what techniques will fit in your game and not showing emotion when things go your way or not. Remember that nobody likes a sore loser or a boastful winner.
So if I have you sold on developing a Stoic mindset then you may ask where to learn more about it. One of my favorite books about Stoicism is Meditations by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. This book is a collection of Marcus Aurelius’ thoughts on mindset and stoic philosophy. If your interested please click the link here!
Thanks for reading! Developing a Stoic mindset has helped me a lot and I believe it can help others. Please share this post to your training partners and friends, I’d love to see more people develop this mindset!