Lessons from Jiu-Jitsu for Better Leadership and Coaching

Over the past year, I have been diving heavily into the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (excluding a 3-month downtime due to an almost torn off toe) at Team Juaco in Scotia, NY. It has been a Tougher road then I thought it would be putting on that white belt. Between learning new techniques, unlearning good habits from wrestling that are bad in BJJ, and checking an ego I didn’t know I had. My professors have been a huge help in not only improving my game but also teaching important lessons which I have now been applying to both life and my own coaching.

Slow the f@*k down

Honestly, the hardest lesson that I have hard to learn. In wrestling, we go as fast as possible to overwhelm, takedown and get the pin. In BJJ, you need to take your time otherwise, you will fall right into someone’s trap and get tapped out. I realized that in my coaching, I sped through everything too quickly; explanations, demos, answering questions, etc. I was essentially wrestling through life. When I started applying the same method of slowing down in BJJ to my coaching, I noticed I started taking my time with my explanations, demos, and everything else. What do you know, everything cleaned up right away and everyone was now on the same page of what needed to be done. All because I didn’t crank it to 11 all the time.

It is Okay to Tap … A lot

Another hard pill to swallow when I first started. All you want to do is fight through everything and not tap. Gradually, I learned to tap more often and resetting the roll (Going live or almost match like with a teammate at practice) and gameplan each time. This correlates directly to failure. Personally, I have never been good at failing at something (Very obvious in my last post: Update and Random Epiphany). It’s been a process to change that and learning to tap has taught me to be more accepting of it. Mostly due to the fact that I made some kind of mistake or slipped up and the world didn’t come to an end.

Learn From Everyone

In this day and age, I feel we write off someone’s knowledge of something too quickly, instead of listening, considering, and learning. I’ve learned almost as much about BJJ from my training partners as I have from my professors. With some details that I missed, or bouncing ideas off each other for technique. This has also been the case for me for other coaches, trainers, and clients. Communication is huge and a two-way road in any leadership position. If you always just bark orders and never consider the ideas of others, you aren’t a good leader, you are just an a$$.

K.I.S.S (Keep It Savagely Simple)

Simplicity might be a huge buzz word right now, but with good reason. Simplicity to me is a tiered system: Simplicity = Fundamentals, Fundamentals = Better Technique, Better Technique = Strengthening the base for more technique. Simplicity then is not just a way to make life easier, but also helps gives a base to fall back on when the crap hits the fan. Not only that, but it also helps others better understand and buy into you, whether it is your business, product, or ideas.

Do Not be Married to a Single Plan/Idea

Nothing is ever going to work as planned, as much as you want it to or prepared for it, so why be married to it? I’ve had both in BJJ and training clients, had plans and it goes to complete shit in a matter of seconds, Even though I knew what I wanted, matched it to the individual, and pondered on the plan for countless hours, it didn’t matter. At that point, you need to be flexible in your planning. To quote Bruce Lee. ” Be like water my friend.” This fluidity allows us to improvise on the fly, so now that DB bench we planned to do turns into a 1-A DB bench because you hurt your arm at practice today. Or that armbar from your back turns into a Kimura from side control(Kimura is a Shoulder lock; on top and perpendicular to the person on the bottom). This lesson has saved me lots of headaches and stress during my time in BJJ and coaching, and life.

To Summarize:

  • Take your time in what you do. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and going faster won’t help you get anywhere but the ground quicker.
  • Listen to everyone, ponder their ideas and keep what works.
  • Simplicity is King.
  • Be like water when it comes to your plans.
Thor LampmanComment