There’s a subject in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that is always talked about but never discussed. This is a deep and fundamentally rooted aspect to everything we do on the mat. I’m talking about Ego. We say “no egos”. We say “leave your ego at the door”. What does all that mean? I say: ego is the single most powerful tool, weapon, and destructive force in the world, and of course in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Ego is what makes us train hard, get hard, and get good. Ego allows us the courage to go to a competition, and gives us the desire to break the other man. When one’s ego breaks, their will to continue also breaks. Ego is the ultimate stimulant, pre workout and recovery tool.
Ego is also a poison. If we rely entirely upon it, we will crumble at the feet of the humble. Carlson Gracie once said “Always enter like a kitten and leave like a lion. But NEVER enter like a lion and leave like a kitten. Always be humble.” Ego is the twin sibling of arrogance. Never let your ego tell you that you are more than you are because you will quickly discover that you are less than you think.
The Gracies consistently have insisted that BJJ is all about humility and lack of ego, but when one looks at some of their interactions, a lot of what they do is with the intention of boosting their family’s ego. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but at the end of the day, even the founders of the sport have been unable to leave ego out of the equation.
In order for a person to value victory they need to have a healthy ego. The only reason victory matters is self promotion. In fact just about everything we do is to make us more confident. Confidence is an expression of our ego. It is our ego saying “I’ve got this”.
So, I implore all of you out there to check your ego at the door. Make sure it hasn’t gotten the better of you. But also make sure it’s in tact, because ego is the reason we try. Ego is the very essence of what we do with this beautiful art.