Jiu Jitsu: The Unconventional Form of Meditation

Well it can be, sometimes.

I was reading one of cooking blogs that I follow- whatever, don’t judge- and apparently one of the bloggers happens to be a yoga instructor, as well as a kickass cook. Her post that day was about how she doesn’t meditate: which automatically conjures that New Age sort of image- incense, sitting with legs folded, possibly chanting something not in one’s own language.

The purpose of meditation is to stop dwelling on the past, or experience anxiety about the future- it’s about existing in the here and now. Which is why I suggest jiu jitsu be regarded as an unconventional form of meditation. At times it can be considered like yoga…with another person….trying to submit you… But the effect is really the same- you are pretty much forced to keep your attention in the here and now. Thoughts about that stupid thing you did yesterday, how the next day is going to go, they all go out the window as your immerse yourself into a technique, focusing on the proper arrangement of your hands, feet and other assorted body parts for successful execution. Which sounds similar to yoga when you think about it, which is what we all usually think of when it comes to an activity to associate with meditation.

And I will definitely admit there are definitely days when jiu jitsu doesn’t feel meditative at all: you feel like you are just grinding out every technique, you can’t seem to get anything to go your way; it totally happens, particularly in the beginning. You are just learning the basics, and let’s face it jiu jitsu is one of those sports that takes a long time to fully master. Maybe not forever to learn, but certainly a long time to master. And sometimes you need those days too: you just spent an hour of your life worrying about this stupid sweep to armbar, and you were so engrossed in it that you temporarily forgot about that deadline at work, or your least favorite in-law coming to town.

Jiu jitsu shouldn’t be an escape from your problems, but it does offer a nice break from them- to give you a fresh perspective, to get you back to center and hopefully give you some peace of mind.

Welp, those are my rambling thoughts for today: what do you think, have you found jiu jitsu to put you into the here and now, or not so much just yet? Or hell, you  feel this doesn’t apply to you at all? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Jiu Jitsu: The Unconventional Form of Meditation

  1. As soon as my feet touch the mat I’m in another place. I’m still me, but all anxiety/anger etc dissipates. I’m able to just have a laugh and focus on what those brief hours of class entail.

    Whether I do well or not doesn’t matter massively, it’s just something to work on for next time, and I know that next time will also keep me balanced.

    It whittles away the shit from each day to day.

  2. Totally true. I had a conversation with another grappler about grappling with friends or significant others (her and her husband train together – but they met AT the gym, which makes a difference)… I invite my friends to check out the class all the time – but to be honest, BJJ is my escape. I don’t think I could or would want to train with my partner. Because of that meditation piece. When I step on the mat, I leave my life at the door. I don’t think about ANYTHING except the here-and-now for two hours. And it is a HUGE reason why I consider BJJ “essential self-care.” Its a break, a meditation – and necessary. Even when I’m frustrated about BJJ, on the mat or off – it never stops being about the Right Now. Everything else matters less. I am SO MUCH more relaxed, as a person now, compared to when I started. Pretty cool.

    My conversation with my buddy was that if my partner joined, I would inevitably bring some of my outside life onto the mat. And I don’t want that. Heh.

  3. Sonia

    I completely agree. I’m still pretty new at BJJ, but I do recognize those moments of absolute focus on the present. I’ve been practicing Taiji Quan for a few years however, which is sometimes described as “meditation in movement”. So that’s a precedent of sorts!

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