There’s no quicker way to poison a Jiu-Jitsu school or club than to bring in politics, religion, and external drama. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu attracts people from all walks of life with views across all religious and political spectrums. And we all have problems like stress from work, financial struggles, and family dramas. But these things can’t be allowed to come into class.

The people who become our best training partners all have something in common. They are all addicted to Jiu-Jitsu.  And so are you.  When you started maybe it was just to get in better shape. Maybe you thought you wanted to be a fighter after you saw the UFC on TV. Maybe you were just interested in self-defense.  But now Jiu-Jitsu has become so much more for you. When you miss too many training sessions you start to get jittery and cranky. You NEED to roll. Why is Jiu-Jitsu so addictive?

One reason might be because rolling gives us a slice of time when we can be totally present in the moment. For thousands of years clerics, mystics, yogis, and more recently sports trainers and psychologists have studied the phenomenon of active meditation. Some religious schools offer years of training in active meditation. But you don’t have to trek to the mountains of Tibet to learn to benefit from this practice. Many times when we are rolling this is really where we are. We become completely and totally focused on the task at hand and all of our troubles are eliminated from our minds for a few precious minutes. It’s almost like being a kid again, when you lived each moment as it came.

Achieving this state of mindfulness, by rolling or practicing active meditation can have a profound effect on our physical and mental health. Scientists don’t really understand the full complex biochemical reaction our bodies have to meditation. But study after study has shown that these effects are real and lasting. Active meditation, or in our case rolling during Jiu-Jitsu class, can make us happier healthier people.

But this great benefit of training is fragile and must be protected. It requires us to be focused on the task at hand – training Jiu-Jitsu. External influences make it hard, if not impossible to reach this state. As soon as politics, religion or external dramas are brought into class it poisons the well.

Our nature as humans is to label people, and with those labels come emotional judgments. You might have a good training partner but they may hold political views that are diametrically opposed to yours.  If this political difference becomes part of your relationship at Jiu-Jitsu class it creates a tension that can spoil the atmosphere. With all the political and religious potential for conflict, it is much better to leave all this baggage outside of the school.

If someone is having financial or family trouble Jiu-Jitsu class should be a positive opportunity for them to escape for a couple hours. But bringing those troubles into school not only keeps them from enjoying class, it can bring others down too. We all need people to talk to, and share our difficulties with, but Jiu-Jitsu class is not the appropriate place.

If your school or club already has ongoing discussions about religion, politics, or family dramas it will be difficult to change, but it making the effort can have huge rewards. The first step is to let everyone know why it is important to eliminate this kind of discussion from class. When new students come in make sure that they understands Jiu-Jitsu class should be a sanctuary from the rest of the world. We all deserve to have at least one place in our lives where we can truly be in the moment and just train. It will make us happier healthier people.

 - Bill Thomas