Hello brothers and sisters in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community!
Today we present to you our grand finale of the series “Ten Ways Jiu Jitsu Can Help With Stress Relief”. Our topic for today has to do with Self Control and Ego. Chances are if this is not something you struggle with, you might know a few people who do. The reality of it is, we all do, even if you don’t have enough ego. Yup, we said it, having too small of an ego can present just as much of a problem as having too big of an ego. Although this blog will focus much more on those with too big of an ego, not having enough of an ego comes with its own challenges which we often see the effects of in new students who join our academy. While there are many definitions of the word “ego” stemming from the subjects of psychology and philosophy, an easy way to understand it is as “your sense of self-importance”. With no ego, you find yourself having little to offer and this is typically seen in those with limited self-esteem. The downfall of having “no ego” as some people promote is that you are unlikely to stand up for yourself or others and allow your convictions to guide you. On the contrary, those with a big ego find themselves to be of greater importance than everyone else around them which can be problematic in a team setting or just relationships in general. Having too much ego can also be a big learning block because rather than doing what is best to improve yourself and get better, the way people perceive you comes first. Like most things we discuss, rather than characterizing one as good and the other bad, we’ll look at what each represents and provide examples so that you can decide how to find balance and ultimately have less stress from learning to control your ego.
We all know someone with a large ego, who we are usually not fond of, however rather than shaming everyone who has a big ego, it is important to try to understand them and why they are the way that they are. Chances are, you may also have a big ego and not know it as is often the case with those who are described as overly egotistical. We also know those who have too small of an ego. They are often the students who walk into our academy terribly shy and afraid to make eye contact or speak. This can become a question of nature versus nurture because some people are just wired that way while some people are that way due to their experiences. The people who tend to have small egos are oftentimes lacking in an upbringing that boosts their self-confidence, this can of course be remedied by Martial Arts and other activities shown to develop strong and empowered attitudes like the military, wrestling, boxing, and social clubs designed to empower youth like the Boys and Girls club or the YMCA. The difference between Martial Arts programs and the others is that most dojos are very centered around the behaviors and character that is developed through their program. This is one of the reasons that it has been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 600 BC when the Greeks were one of the most powerful societies and even before then. The significance of being a warrior and being able to fight and defend yourself or your city meant a lot back then and is lost among society today. It is no wonder that many of today’s youth suffer from depression, obesity and other forms of social angst because they haven’t grown up learning how to develop strength, courage and ultimately confidence in their abilities. From experience we have seen kids screaming bloody murder or crying as their parents insisted on them trying a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class with us, only for them to realize that it is not that bad and eventually fall in love with it before maturing into kids and teens who no longer suffer from self-esteem issues.
On the other hand, we also encounter those who need Jiu Jitsu to humble them. One of our favorite things to see is when a boy with a cocky attitude comes into our class only to be humbled by a girl with multiple years of Jiu Jitsu experience. The reason ego is important to control is because you need a healthy amount of it. Having pride in what you do is very important for self-esteem, it is only a problem when it gets out of control. That is one of the main reasons Jiu Jitsu is so great, because it allows a big strong man to be controlled and submitted by a much smaller man or woman, using technique and leverage. For anyone, this is a truly humbling experience to learn that you can be dominated on the mats by a person who is smaller and weaker. Humility is an important trait of the most respectable people on the planet, no matter how wealthy, smart, attractive or badass they are, it is refreshing to know someone who is seriously successful but equally humble. A personal friend of ours who exudes these characteristics is Victor Hugo, back to back IBJJF Ultra-Heavyweight champion at black belt, who is a walking highlight reel yet is extremely kind and gentle, especially when he teaches the kids class at Six Blades Jiu Jitsu Lake Travis. A true martial artist doesn’t need to put on a front or act tough because they are comfortable and confident in their abilities. As a young child, when you know that you can take down, pin and submit half of your classmates, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone else. In the right program, the sensei or professor will now teach them how to apply these traits into real life situations. Here is an example of how ego can be good. You are a black belt walking down the street and you see a small guy being beaten up by a couple people much larger than him. Should you say something? Chances are, if you have no ego, you’ll keep walking. If you have too much ego you might run over there and start swinging. With the right amount of control of your ego, however, you’ll assess the situation and keep your cool, not wanting to make the situation worse for all parties involved unless use of force becomes completely necessary. While that example is certainly not how to lower your stress levels, having a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known to give you peace of mind, knowing that you have the capability to defend yourself and others along with the wits to avoid unnecessary confrontation. When you apply this to your life, it is also immensely powerful and yields the understanding that while it is important to stick up for yourself, it is equally important to be sensitive to the people around you and spend time trying to understand them and work together cohesively rather than judge them and write them off. It will also save you from losing your temper, not only from the effects of physical training on your health, blood pressure and overall mood but you will learn to control your emotions more effectively to problem solve better on the mats, which translates to a much more calm demeanor and peaceful outlook on life.