The number of reasons why I began dedicating so much of my time to coaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is endless. The art is so multifaceted: your mind and body are both so fully engaged, and observing students refine these skills and push themselves in the right direction is a highly rewarding process.
However, as much as I as a coach can encourage students to push themselves and explore their limits as a martial artist, there’s the occasional breaking point, where encouragement of the push might not be the best thing for me to do. I see this a lot at tournaments, where a coach stands off to the side in an elevated moment fueled by endorphins and adrenaline for their student. So how do I establish myself as someone who is still a viable resource in these moments? It might be easier than you think.
With my background in BJJ combined with my knowledge in psychology, I have learned an abundance of information about the ways in which the mind works under the pressure that BJJ can cause on the body. When the body and mind are working that close together, it is equally as important to work on mental endurance as it is the physical endurance of the practice.
From the first day, students are asked to pit themselves against each other. This plays with the human instinct to nurture, which quickly turns this into a game of the mind against other minds. This is an easy thing to get caught up in with BJJ.
The importance of reminding your students to pay attention to the variations and shifts that occur in the mind during their practice is not to be underestimated. The very nature of competition manipulates the psychology of the moment, putting the body under an immense amount of mental and physical stress, which asks students to be very mindful in their practice.
A reminder of the mindfulness aspect of BJJ can ground a student and bring awareness to them about the other muscles engaged in their practice. Instead of focusing on the physical stress of the moment, bring attention to the cathartic moments of practice, the moments where you student is combatting trauma, obstacles, and strengthening their problem solving skills.
By bringing awareness to this aspect of the practice, you are encouraging your students to spread out their tension more and really take the time to analyze it. This can be incredibly helpful for students in competition, especially if you as a coach are present and there to actively remind your students of all the things you worked on together. This can potentially make or break a competition.
Ensuring your mind is just as prepared as your body is one of the most important things BJJ can teach you. Remember to focus on all the stress BJJ puts on multiple areas of the body, and take the time to work mindfulness into your practice. It’ll be sure to keep you in check in the moments you’d least expect it to.