The Mental Art of Competition: Part 10 EGO

One of my very first articles on here explored the notion of the Ego as it pertains to Jiu Jitsu, namely that a healthy ego is necessary, one that is both manageable as well as strong. BJJ EGO

In competition, ego is often the difference between victory and defeat.

On the one hand, an overbearing ego can cause a competitor to fail to see openings that they can use to defeat their opponent. I’ve personally had matches where I was so focused on not losing that I forgot to try to win. If you do that, chances are your opponent will score points or advantages and wind up defeating you.

I’ve also seen instances in which white belts managed to beat upper belts in competition because the upper belts were careless. An unhealthy/unchecked ego can cause you to forget to respect the other person’s ability to submit you, which can be a dangerous, match losing error.

Ego is necessary for victory. Ego partnered with confidence will make a competitor mentally strong enough to beat people who may have better technique. If you go into a match believing you are going to beat the other person, your chances improve. If you go into a match with self esteem issues thinking that the other person will beat you, they will very likely beat you. This art has so much to do with the mental condition of its competitors…

The key is to know the difference between knowing that you are going to win and falsely believing that you can’t lose.

Know that you’re going to win

Go into every match with a plan, ANY sort of plan will do. Also have a secondary plan for when the first plan goes awry. Keep your plan simple so that you can be CONFIDENT that that plan will be possible.

Know that you can be beaten

The difference between arrogance and ego is slim, but does exist. Go into every match with the mindset that while you CAN beat your opponent, they are the most dangerous opponent you will ever have to face. Even if you’re a purple belt and your opponent is a white belt, go into that match fully respecting the ability of the other person to beat you, and always be on high alert. I’ve beaten so many people because they took at look at me, my belt, or my Pony Club Grappling Gear rash guard and assumed that I was not going to be a worthy adversary only to be crushed by me.

Ego is a nebulous aspect of the human psyche. Too little and you’ll lose out of simple mental and emotional weakness, too much and you’ll be caught unaware. When competing, always check your ego. Make sure it’s present and ready for war, but make sure it doesn’t detract from your ability to intelligently protect yourself…




Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and


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