There is no room for Ego in this sport
Location: Rockledge, Fl
Most people think that poison and venom are the same. Both are bad when they enter one’s body, but it isn’t until we see how they are used in nature, that we see their differences… The poison contained in the skin of the poisonous tree frogs in the Amazon rainforest is only effective if it is ingested and enters the bloodstream.; Venom, on the other hand, is only effective when it is injected. In the wild, a pit viper or rattlesnake injects venom from its fangs to successfully kill its prey.
Venom and poison are remarkably like confidence and ego. In general, too much ego means you may never be successful and more than likely turn off everyone you meet. Too much ego in Jiu-Jitsu may lead to injuries, both to yourself and your teammates, which can end up getting you kicked out of gyms or shunned by training partners and labeled as “that guy” that no one wants to train with. Too much confidence, and you may miss out on opportunities that come your way and come up short on many of your tasks and goals. Too much confidence in Jiu-Jitsu, and you will never be able to truly reach your potential.
In the gym, you are important and essential for its growth and Jiu-Jitsu as a whole. But believing that you have more importance than someone else is where you tread into the dangerous waters. Having a big ego in this regard, may make you believe that because you are a higher rank, for example, that your coach should be spending more attention and time on you than he should the new white belts. You may also get angry and react based on emotions when the new white belt asks you a question you think is ridiculous. Worst of all, you may think you are too good to tap to that white belt who has you in an incredibly tight armbar.
All of this can leave a negative image of the sport right. Let’s break it down. Believing you are more important than someone is a flawed concept because the mats do not care what you think. Think about Jiu-Jitsu as a sport, and it is nothing without your teammates helping you train to get better. Also, is it worth a broken arm, just to say you did not tap to a white belt? Be happy he tapped you; you learned a lesson and will grow from it, and take pride in a newer teammate’s growth.
Can ego be used for good? The same poison used by the tree frogs is used by native tribes in the Amazon to hunt with and obtain their food. If, instead of thinking you are better than everyone in your gym, do things for the benefit of the gym as a whole. Rather than thinking of yourself first, think of the growth of your teammates and everyone who walks into your gym to train. Your investment in them will help your growth in the long run. A big ego cares only for the quick return, whereas a small ego brings the most change over time.
That’s why you sometimes see those with big egos always chasing something they cannot reach, and are never satisfied. One example is Conor McGregor. He was the rising star of the lightweight division. He made a living off his ego, and it worked in his favor. But eventually, he realized that he was not invincible, above the law, or better than everyone around him. He is currently facing multiple lawsuits, was arrested numerous times, and is no longer the lightweight champion of the UFC.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have Khabib Nurmagomedov, someone who was humble throughout his entire career. His 29-0 record could have made his ego explode. Instead, he has focused on using his earnings to help his community back in his home country of Dagestan grow. Nurmagomedov, someone who could have left his country for the American dream, instead stayed in his home country, started his fight promotion, mentors up-and-coming fighters.
Confidence is having faith in your abilities and believing in yourself. This is healthy and important; you must believe in yourself! But, understand that believing in yourself is not what wins tournaments. Hard work does. You can believe in yourself all you want, but if you aren’t training consistently, that confidence will do nothing to benefit you. Having too much confidence leads to false confidence. You stop showing up to class because you accept and believe you have worked more than others and don’t need the extra training. No training will result in you not being able to perform to the best of your ability. ***
Confidence can be used for good, and this is how: It will allow you to have faith in your ability to be resilient in the gym. Even when you are frequently tapping, you will have the confidence to push through the hard days. You will have the confidence to accept them for what they are; the opportunity to grow and become a better grappler. It will allow you to experiment with your Jiu-Jitsu and try new positions. Confidence will allow you to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Confidence is what guided Royce Gracie through his UFC debut. He had confidence in his ability to measure up to his family’s martial arts history and step into the cage to display his hard work, fighting his way into Jiu-Jitsu history.
Your Jiu-Jitsu is nothing without confidence and ego. But you need to have balance and take caution. The same thing that can be responsible for great Jiu-Jitsu, can also be responsible for its downfall. Who will you be? The stranger who walks into an MMA or Jiu-Jitsu gym with no formal training and challenges the black belt? Or will you have the courage to accept your shortcomings and use them as guidance to achieve what is possible through hard work and humility?