A New Take on Jiujitsu and Ego

“Leave your ego at the door.”

not my image

not my image

I disagree!

That is one of the first pieces of advice jiujitsu veterans will hand down to a newbie prior to the newbie stepping on the mat. I contend the ego absolutely needs to be present if you want to do well in jiujitsu. Before I explain, here’s the rationale for the advice “leave your ego at the door.”

1) nobody likes egotistical people.
2) you are going to get your ass kicked, repeatedly, for a long time. Even when you get good, you will still get your ass kicked.

So why do I disagree? Semantics. People use the word ego interchangeably with pride, so if the advice reads, “Leave your pride at the door,” then I agree. Prideful people can’t handle losing and don’t want to learn, so they wash out within two days. Good riddance.

I’m considering the use of the word “ego” in the psychology sense. The ego is a conceptual notion of this thing in our brain that helps corral our primitive urges while also balancing our overly cautious, idealistic side.
For the single, male Killer J readers: The ego keeps you from grabbing the cute woman’s butt like an ogre, but it also shuts down the overly cautious, moralistic side just enough so that you can go talk to her.

The ego is pretty important in jiujitsu as well. If I’m going to have half a chance to think through the technique I learned and actually apply it, I have to get past my base urge to just go with what I know, or panic and hulk-out of an opponent’s technique. The ego helps me get past that base level urge, and think.

The ego also opens me up to trying new things while sparring. I just learned a choke today when somebody turtles and you have them in front headlock position. While sparring, I saw the opportunity to go for the technique. The overly cautious part of my brain started yapping, “Don’t go for it! You don’t know that technique well enough, and you might lose position!” My ego shut that part of my brain down, and I went for it. It worked! I got the submission.

So, in conclusion. The ego, as defined by Freud, is a must for jiujitsu.