The BJJ student who seeks to train religiously and be blessed by constant progress must avoid the vices that harm their health, whether of body, mind or soul. In an article originally printed on Brazilian Graciemag, our team recruited masters and black-belts of great renown to help readers pursue virtue and become more illuminated fighters.
Read below about the seven deadly sins applied to the life of the BJJ fighter, and fess up: which of them is currently hindering your evolution? Recognizing the problem and fighting it may help you improve your training as early as today. To Fabio Gurgel, for example, nothing is worse than pride or vanity at the gym.
“A fight may be the worst place to commit deadly sins,” he said. “After all, the price, as well as being high, is charged quickly. Sooner or later the fighter shows who they really are — whether in the wrath that impedes their reasoning, in the envy that makes him notice others more than themselves, or in the sloth that doesn’t let them train.”
Also known as vanity. It’s the sin of those who are excessively arrogant. “Pride may be the most common sin,” said Gurgel. “It’s the guy who thinks he’s better than the others, who always needs to be at the top, who needs to be mentioned in every magazine article and who thinks he’s most important than the rest.
“When this guy’s mask falls, however, we see a weak, mediocre individual, who hasn’t learned the basic lessons of BJJ.”
To Gurgel, pride has an effective antidote: humility. “It’s the only remedy. The fighter must worry only about his constant evolution and not about causing the envy of others.” The General added: “Vanity is a trap in which many fall, and it’s hard for them to get back up.”
Exhibited by those who care too much about material possessions. In the dojo, the worst sin is to be cheap with techniques and not sharing knowledge with your training partners. To Xande Ribeiro, there is also the figure of the athlete who won’t display more than one or two of their techniques, just enough to win by advantages. “BJJ is born to be a rich art, to present thousands of options of escape to one problem,” he said. “The cheap fighter insists on just doing the same thing and is happy with this economy of techniques. From being so cheap, they end up being rude, poor of friends, and no one wants to train with them anymore.”
The passionate, selfish desire for all corporal and material pleasures. It can be the ruin of those who let themselves be dominated by passions and addictions. Grandmaster Carlos Gracie used to recommend fighters have sex in moderation. He added, “Whatever philosophical or religious orientation we follow, it must never mean lack of care for the body with which we came to this world.”
The sin of those who ignore the blessings they have and desire the status and skills earned by others. “You must never compare yourself to your training partners, but rather to yourself, to your old version from a long time ago, when you began training,” said Master Carlos Rosado. “It’s the best way to gauge your evolution and not succumb to the pressure of having the same skill as the teammates around you. No one is the same as anyone else.” So don’t envy; train hard instead.
Gluttony prevents the fighter from eating adequately, respecting the times for digestion and wise choices for food, such as fruits, salads and light meals before training. “When we eat well, we’re always light enough to train and we have good digestion. When the guy eats big meal, it’ll be a while until he can train again, or he’ll get to the gym feeling slow and heavy,” said Royler Gracie. “Our body works like a machine. If you put in fouled fuel, it will complain; if you put in normal gas, it will run just fine. If you invest in premium gas, it will run much better still. I don’t drink alcohol and I follow the Gracie Diet, and I recommend it.”
During training, wrath is a highly harmful sin that makes a fighter hurt other students and get a bad reputation. In competitions, it’s a surefire way to get defeated. “BJJ has to be tackled with cold blood, with professionalism and also with a hint of fun,” Rubens Cobrinha taught us. “Wrath is not a useful feeling during a fight, because it makes the athlete more nervous than normal, and stops him from follow his opponent’s reasoning and movement. After the fight, you may even go and be mad at the loss, a train thrice as hard to make up for it, using anger as motivation. But never during a competition or training session.”
In BJJ, an excessively slow student may piss of their instructors. It’s the capital sin of those who are late for training due to neglect, and of those who don’t care enough to keep their gi clean. To Kyra Gracie, this is the biggest enemy of consistency in your training. “There are always those days where the body doesn’t want to get out of bed, but sloth can never be allowed to take over. Once the training plan put in place, we have to follow it thoroughly. It’s on the rainy and cloudy days that true champions are born, as the saying goes.”