In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the desire to be great is always present, but the willingness to be great is a little fewer and further between.

Grandmaster Carlos Gracie has a great quote: “There is no losing in Jiu Jitsu, you either win or you learn.” This quote is often used as motivation in order to put training in perspective. In other words, when you fail, you cannot look at it as defeat. Failure is another opportunity to learn.

“Forget about past mistakes and focus your energy on the victories of tomorrow” –Carlos Gracie Sr.

Lately, I have been learning a lot about “Lifestyle Design” and am realizing how many of the same principles I already apply with my Jiu-Jitsu. One of the fundamental ideas here is that in order to succeed, you must


Trial and error is one of the best ways to learn anything you do. There is research that suggests live application of a practice is more critical to learning than repetition. The idea here is that when you attempt a technique, you will have to make adjustments in real-time, thus facilitating critical thinking and motor learning. Repetitions for the sake of repetitions help with practice, but do not require any sort of real thought and even less real-time application.

That being said, failure is going to be a key component in your learning.

Recently, I was teaching a client and he said he wanted to learn a very high risk/high reward technique. He then asked if he should forget it and stick to the basics or if he should attempt to learn it.

I laughed a little and asked what his motivation was.

“I just thought it looked fun and wanted to try it out.”

That is exactly what I wanted to hear.

I reminded him that if we were training for competition, let’s stick to the basics, fortify our strengths and try not to learn many new things. Since we are not training for competition, my goal is to help him learn effectively and more importantly, to have fun doing it.

We worked on the technique and he was having some trouble with it. I gave him this feedback:

“Beautiful! Ok, so check it out. What I want is for you to keep trying it. I don’t care how many times you miss it. Every time you are in this position, go for it! If you get your back taken, big deal. If you get tapped, who cares. You will keep attempting this with a smile on your face until you either get it or you at least develop your knowledge of weird positions.”

This morning, while listening to the 4 Hour Work Week audiobook, Tim Ferriss quoted the following:

“Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer”

-Niccolo Machiavelli

If you are going to fail at anything you do, why not fail big? Taking risks is an integral part of growth and development. You will curb your growth taking it easy and playing it safe. If you are going to make a mistake, make the right mistakes and learn from them.

Here are three of the practices I use to fail big on the mats in order to facilitate my learning and keep my ego in check:

1. I often like to give up my back or put myself in a really bad spot right from the handshake. When I escape, it sometimes demoralizes my opponent and I get in their heads. In addition, I develop proficiency with my escapes.

2.  I like to do some acrobatics when I roll. The reason here is, if I succeed, I add one more attack to my repertoire. If I fail, I at least develop some proficiency in scrambling.

3. Learn a new technique at least once a week on your own with no direct instruction. Try it over and over and over again and keep failing at it until you catch it or something relatively similar. Your morale will improve greatly when you either finally get it or if you get something else in the process.

Remember, Fortune favors the bold!








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