Jiu Jitsu: A Growth Mindset Activity
Journaling and meditation are probably some of the first things that come to mind when you think of a growth mindset activity.
This made us think, can jiu jitsu be considered a growth mindset activity too?
We recently wrote an article about the top 3 reasons why you should love the art of jiu jitsu This article will go deeper and argue that, because of the challenging nature of the art, jiu jitsu can be considered an activity that helps people develop a growth mindset.
There’s an expression that’s become popular throughout the bjj community: jiu jitsu saved my life. We wholeheartedly agree with this and think nothing could be closer to the truth.
Jiu jitsu can be considered a growth mindset activity because the art teaches you to be calm in the face of adversity, forcing you to take responsibility for good and bad outcomes.
Jiu jitsu puts you in challenging situations and forces you to identify strengths and weaknesses, proving to you that progress can be made through learning, effort, and discipline.
Jiu jitsu shows you how to avoid the fixed mindset and approach every situation with a growth mindset instead.
To learn more about the topic of mindset, we refer to the ground-breaking work of American psychologist Carol Dweck.
What Is a Fixed Mindset?
Here’s how Dweck defines the fixed mindset:
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” (Dweck, 2015)
This type of mindset is damaging and can get in the way of setting and achieving goals. People with a fixed mindset don’t truly believe they can improve at a skill or activity unless they’re already gifted in that area.
In a sense, this is a lazy approach to life in general. Rather than take responsibility for efforts and outcomes, these people attribute successes and failures to something beyond their own doings.
This is the opposite mindset of a martial artist, and that’s one of the reasons why we consider jiu jitsu a growth mindset activity and not a fixed mindset activity.
Let’s learn a bit more about what exactly a growth mindset is.
What is a Growth Mindset?
Here’s how Dweck defines the growth mindset:
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015)
It doesn’t matter where you start from, you have the ability to effect change in your own life. Just because you are new to an activity and lack skills and knowledge at first does not mean you are incompetent and cannot one day become a master of that domain.
This empowering mindset – the growth mindset – is what’s needed to allow you to fully grow as an individual.
This is where the phenomenon becomes so apparent in the world of martial arts, and specifically in the realm of jiu jitsu.
Jiu jitsu is an inherently challenging activity. As much fun as it is to be the hammer, so to speak, you will also inevitably be the nail in the early years of your training. Come to think of it, there will never be a time in your jiu jitsu career where someone won’t be beating you up on the mats. It’s just the nature of the art.
That being said, if you knew that good grapplers were born with their skills and that you were either good at jiu jitsu or you weren’t, wouldn’t you quit after the first few days of getting beat up?
Jiu jitsu is a testament to the growth mindset, in that grapplers of all levels face challenges every single training session.
Rolling teaches you how to solve problems and find areas for improvement instead of blaming the world for you getting your guard passed, then mounted, and arm barred.
Likewise, nobody is good at jiu jitsu on their first day. Moreover, it takes quite a long time to develop a high skill level in jiu jitsu, and there is no other way to achieve this besides consistent training and learning.
A firm belief that it is possible to go from being a helpless white belt to a confident black belt is important if you want to have success in anything. From there, hard work and time spent will determine progress.
There is no talent and almost no luck in jiu jitsu, that’s what makes it a growth mindset activity.
The Fixed Mindset vs The Growth Mindset
For the sake of this article, a mindset refers to whether a person believes individual qualities, talents, skills, and abilities are fixed or changeable. These beliefs manifest through thoughts and self-talk.
People with a fixed mindset have an internal monologue that is full of judgement and evaluation, constantly analyzing one’s own accomplishments and the accomplishments of others.
People with a growth mindset have an internal monologue that is made up of an intense desire to learn, improve, and develop. Instead of focusing on accomplishments, these individuals focus on the steps they must take in order to improve.
Jiu jitsu requires a person to learn how to internalize both successes and failures, but the need to take responsibility for failures and shortcomings is particularly important in order to develop into a fully matured martial artist.
Anyone can become a black belt through years of consistent training. There is no secret formula to getting better. The onus is on you to put in the effort, identify areas that need improvement, and constantly remind yourself that you are in charge of your own growth.
This mindset provides an extremely positive and empowering outlook on life. It’s safe to say that jiu jitsu is a growth mindset activity for more than one reason.
Is it possible that training jiu jitsu can help you develop a growth mindset on the mats that will also transfer to your life outside of the dojo? That’s for you to find out!
A Growth Mindset Reading Activity
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a growth mindset, we highly recommend you do more reading on the subject, starting with Mindset: The New Psychology for Success by Carol Dweck.
Maria Popova of the popular blog Brain Pickings writes that Dweck’s book is:
“…an inquiry into the power of our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, and how changing even the simplest of them can have profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.”
In summary, working on your mindset to be able to see the glass as half full instead of half empty will not only help your jiu jitsu, but will positively affect many aspects of your life.
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