Tag Archives: practice

Jiu-Jitsu Is Not Exercise, Neither Is Yoga.

I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Yoga. However, I think people need to understand a difference between exercise and sport. Exercise has a regressive and progressive quality that distinguishes it from sport. When you exercise the goal is to find a move that you can do easily enough to repeat but challenging enough that after several repetitions it becomes a stimulus for change or adaptation. For example ,there is a weight that you can squat 10 times but no more and if you squat that weight for a few sets of 10, you will stimulate your body to adapt and get stronger. At that point you need to progress to more load or more reps in order to keep getting stronger. Thus the goal is never to master the 10 rep squat at 95lbs. The goal is to keep getting stronger, faster, better, etc. and do with 195lbs what was once only possible with 95lbs.

When we do a sport like BJJ or Yoga (I know yoga is not a sport, but more of a practice, however, people mistakenly treat it as exercise), we initially find it very physically demanding. Thus it does creates a stimulus that drives adaptation exactly where we need to adapt with respect to the sport. We get stronger and more flexible and our stamina increases and we can train longer and better. Initially people think that all they need is that one thing, BJJ or Yoga, for all their fitness needs. They mistakenly believe that they will keep getting stronger and fitter just by doing BJJ or Yoga. However, the difference with BJJ and Yoga and similar sports is that as we improve at them we actually learn to be more efficient and can perform better without spending the same energy that we did when we first started. As we get better we cease to adapt physically.

Watch a novice and an expert perform the same moves and you are not struck by the physicality of the the expert but rather the ease and fluidity of their movement. Your first few months on the mat, you use a lot of energy to attack and defend against your opponent. Your body adapts quickly to the stress of BJJ and then you are able to train with less difficulty. After a short time you learn to relax as you train and exert energy when you need to and conserve energy when you can. When you reach that stage, it is rare that your BJJ training becomes a physical stimulus. What you start to develop is neurological aspects of technique such as timing and coordination by repeated repetitions and focusing on details and positions. As you advance, Yoga or BJJ training becomes skill practice and at that point in order to stay physically sharp, you need to supplement your BJJ practice with outside training exercises, so that you continue to gain in strength, stamina, speed, power and flexibility.

The 2016 Open

The 2016 Open is over thank goodness.  It has been a while since I finished an Open and felt good about it.  Just finishing is a victory.  The ability to see things through to the end is a noble quality.  I always feel guilty about things I’ve left unfinished: books, movies, meals, workouts, etc.  There is some benefit to finishing a task no matter the outcome.  To some extent it is about keeping your word.  It is also about creating a habit of finishing what you start and learning to overcome the obstacles that stand in your way.

Feeling good about my performance is another matter altogether.  I wouldn’t say I performed great. I don’t feel particularly fit.  However, being in the top 10% of 45 year-olds seems objectively good.  Also this was a year I could do everything.  That is a check in the “win” column.

Additionally, I actually enjoyed the Open this year.  My enjoyment is partly based on my own performance.  I think people enjoy things when they feel good about how they perform and hate on things that they do poorly at.  I know in the past when I felt bad about how I did, I would get down on the Open.  I saw this in school as well.  If I asked someone how a class or a teacher was, the person’s answer was almost always based on their grade.

Creating a better relationship with how we judge our performances is important. Some people use a lot of negative reinforcement to get themselves to improve. For example, constantly telling themselves that they suck and they have to try harder.  With that mindset it is easy to get discouraged if things don’t go your way and it is also unlikely that you will ever be satisfied even if you achieve your goals.  However, if you view your efforts as the best you can do and also look at where they can be improved without the negative self-talk, you can still achieve your goals and be grateful when you do.

I remind myself to focus on the process.  I tell myself that I have what it takes but I need to work fucking harder to achieve my goals.  I remind myself that achieving my goals won’t bring me happiness, it’s doing the work to get there that will bring me satisfaction.  Do the work. Enjoy the work.