Why The Mats Don't Lie (BJJ Is Honest)

    BJJ is often called an "honest" sport because it reflects your skills and character. Unlike other sports where external factors like equipment or referees can affect the outcome, in BJJ, it's just you and your opponent on the mats.

    The mats don't lie because they reveal your weaknesses, strengths, dedication, discipline, and ability to learn and improve. As a practitioner, you can't hide behind excuses or blame others for your failures. It's a humbling experience that requires honesty and self-reflection.

    BJJ practitioners training in fantasy concept art by the ocean

    But BJJ isn't just about winning or losing, it's also a practice of self-discovery. You can learn more about yourself and your opponents through training and competing. It's a sport that requires mental toughness, humility, and respect for others.

    In this article, we'll delve deeper into why BJJ is an honest sport and how it can help you improve your physical skills and character. We'll explore the importance of humility, facing challenging opponents, and using weaknesses to improve your technique. So, let's roll!

    BJJ's reputation as an honest sport

    BJJ is often called an "honest" sport because of its accessibility and the ability for practitioners of all levels to learn from some of the best in the world. Unlike mainstream sports, where you can only dream of learning from the likes of LeBron James or Lionel Messi, in BJJ, you can attend a seminar with someone like Gordan Ryan, Rickson Gracie, and other legends of the sport, and learn from their expertise.

    Moreover, BJJ's communal aspect sets it apart from other sports. It's not just about winning or losing on an individual level. It's about learning and growing together as a team. And this accessibility to knowledge and athletes fuels the passion of BJJ practitioners.

    BJJ Community

    So, while the mats may reveal your weaknesses and push you to your limits, the honesty and openness of the BJJ community mean that there's always room for improvement and learning. It's a sport that's not just about physical skill but also mental strength and humility. And that's why the mats don't lie, because they reveal your technique and character.

    The revealing nature of the mats

    Mat culture is a big deal in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). The beliefs and behaviors shape how we interact with each other on the mats, and it determines the overall atmosphere of the academy. 

    Whether you're a seasoned pro or a newcomer, the mat culture is something you should be aware of because it can make or break your training experience.

    Submission Shark BJJ Rash Guard

    Here are a few things to keep in mind about mat culture:

    • Everyone on the team, not just the instructors, determines mat culture. It's up to each of us to reinforce positive behaviors and discourage negative ones.
    • A positive mat culture is marked by friendship, healthy competition, humility, and a willingness to learn and improve. We all want this, but sometimes our insecurities, stress, or poor leadership can get in.
    • The mat culture is revealed in how we treat each other and the academy. Are we building each other up or tearing each other down? Do we have respect for ourselves and others? Are we working together as a team or just trying to show off our skills?
    • As martial artists on the mat, we are responsible for protecting and reinforcing the integrity of each student and the academy. We are called to be change agents who uphold and improve the culture, not just for ourselves but for everyone around us.
    • A positive mat culture will attract like-minded individuals and raise others to the same level. It's a mutually reinforcing cycle that builds everyone up.

    So, if you're new to BJJ or looking to improve your training experience, pay attention to the mat culture. Be a positive influence, set clear boundaries, and work together to create an environment that fosters growth, respect, and excellence.

    Using weaknesses to improve technique

    BJJ is not just a martial art, it's a proven self-defense system that allows individuals of all sizes and strengths to defend themselves against attackers. One of BJJ's most interesting aspects is how it focuses on using an opponent's strength and size against them.

    BJJ practitioners can submit to larger opponents by focusing on technique and leverage.

    Submission Shark BJJ Gi

    But what about when you're the smaller opponent? Is it possible to use your weaknesses to improve your BJJ technique? The answer is a resounding "yes." You can become a more skilled BJJ practitioner by focusing on your weaknesses and learning to work around them.

    For example: If you struggle with flexibility, you can focus on techniques requiring less flexibility or improve your flexibility through stretching and targeted exercises. If you have a weaker grip, you can focus on developing techniques requiring less grip strength or strengthen your grip through specific exercises.

    By acknowledging and working on your weaknesses, you can improve your overall technique and become a better BJJ practitioner. Don't let your weaknesses hold you back - use them to your advantage and become the best BJJ practitioner you can be.

    BJJ as a practice of self-discovery

    BJJ isn't just about learning techniques and drilling them repeatedly. It's about discovering yourself and your style of jiu-jitsu. And that's where self-awareness comes in.

    BJJ practitioners training in fantasy concept art by the ocean

    You might wonder, "What does my personality have to do with my jiu-jitsu game?" Well, quite a lot. Your personality can influence how you approach training and competing.

    For example: You might enjoy breaking down techniques and figuring out how they work if you're more analytical. On the other hand, if you're more intuitive, you might rely more on your instincts and feel for jiu-jitsu.

    Your body type and athletic ability also play a big role in determining your jiu-jitsu style. You might favor a more open guard game if you're taller and lankier.

    You might prefer a pressure-based top game if you're shorter and stockier. And if you're a natural athlete, you can pull off flashy moves that others can only dream of.

    Mobility and flexibility are key factors in jiu-jitsu. Some people are naturally more flexible than others, which can affect the techniques they can perform. But even if you're not naturally flexible, you can improve your mobility and flexibility through stretching and mobility drills.

    Jiu-jitsu isn't just about learning techniques. It's about discovering yourself and your style of jiu-jitsu, which requires self-awareness of your personality, body type, athletic ability, and mobility/flexibility. It's honest because that's the only way you can truly grow as a BJJ practitioner.

    Embrace your strengths and weaknesses, learn from them, and use them to your advantage. With dedication and hard work, you can become the best BJJ practitioner you can be.

    Learning about opponents through BJJ

    Although through your own self-discovery, you can become a better BJJ practitioner, it's also important to learn about your opponents. As they say in jiu-jitsu, "It's not about who is stronger or faster, it's about who knows more.

    By studying your opponents, you can gain an edge in your jiu-jitsu game. Take note of their physical attributes, such as height, strength, and flexibility. Pay attention to their techniques and the way they move on the mat.

    You can also observe how opponents react under pressure, how tired they get in a match, and how they strategize. All of these can give you insight into your opponents' game plan, allowing you to better prepare for the match. However, as you dive deeper into BJJ, you'll learn some more unique lessons:

    • It teaches us that looks can be deceiving, and we cannot tell the capabilities of someone just by looking at them. 
    • BJJ teaches us to go with the flow, adjust to situations, and use them to our advantage. 
    • We learn that to get good at something, we must first be willing to be bad and that ego must be let go. 
    • Learning to teach teaches us to learn and grow as martial artists. 
    • BJJ teaches us to find pleasure in overcoming adversity and learning to accept the discomfort thrown at us as part of reality. 
    • Size does not matter in BJJ (to a certain degree) as smaller people can overcome bigger and stronger opponents through technique and leverage.

    BJJ practitioners training in fantasy concept art by the ocean

    The importance of humility in training

    When training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), humility is key. Not only do you need to acknowledge your weaknesses, but you also have to respect your opponent's strengths.

    After all, if you don't give them the credit they deserve, you might get your butt kicked. And let's face it. Nobody likes a sore loser.

    But it's not just about respecting your opponent's abilities. It's about recognizing their potential for growth and change as human beings. BJJ teaches us to confront our mortality and limitations while showing us that we can adapt and improve. We're all just specks of dust on a giant rock hurtling through space, so why make life harder for each other while we're here?

    Watching two fighters who hate each other go head-to-head may be more entertaining. But do we want to live in a world where our idols throw honor and dignity aside to make a quick buck? I think not. So, let's embrace humility and respect in our training and strive to be better humans on and off the mats.

    How humility helps with progress

    Humility is often overlooked in pursuing success, but it's an essential ingredient for progress. When we're humble, we're able to appreciate the achievements of others without getting caught up in envy or resentment. Building strong relationships and networks is easier when we're not constantly comparing ourselves to others.

    But how does humility help us reach our potential? For one, it teaches us to be grateful for what we have and our experiences. This gratitude can motivate us to keep pushing ourselves to improve, even when things get tough.

    Additionally, humility allows us to be open to feedback and criticism, which is crucial for growth. We're more receptive to learning from our mistakes and weaknesses when we're not defensive or arrogant. We can identify areas where we can improve and take action to address them.

    BJJ practitioners training in fantasy concept art by the ocean

    So if you're serious about achieving mastery in any discipline, whether Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or something else, don't underestimate the power of humility. It might not be the most glamorous trait, but it can make all the difference in your journey toward success.

    Focusing on technique over winning

    In any martial art, the ultimate goal is to emerge victorious over your opponent. However, focusing solely on winning can be counterproductive and may even hinder your progress in the long run. Instead, prioritizing technique over winning can be the key to success.

    When we focus solely on winning, we tend to rely on our strength and athleticism rather than technique. This can lead to bad habits and sloppy form, ultimately limiting our potential.

    By prioritizing techniques, we can train our bodies and minds to execute movements precisely and efficiently. This, in turn, leads to better overall performance and greater chances of success in competition.

    Focusing on technique also allows us to appreciate the art of the martial art we are practicing. We can delve deeper into the intricacies of each move, exploring the nuances and subtleties that make the art form unique. This enhances our understanding of martial art and allows us to derive greater satisfaction from the practice.

    Facing challenging opponents

    Facing bigger and stronger opponents can be daunting, but with the right mindset and technique, it is possible to overcome the odds. Here are some tips to help you face challenging opponents:

    • Anticipate your opponent's strength: Bigger opponents will always have the advantage when it comes to strength, but you can use your speed and agility to outmaneuver them. Constantly move and switch positions, frustrating them until they gas out.
    • The grip is king: Once a bigger opponent has secured their grip on you, it will be difficult to fight them off. Take control of the grips before they do, and break their grip while securing your own as quickly and explosively as possible.
    • Improve your Gi chokes: Gi chokes are a great way to submit your opponent and can be difficult to defend against. Use them to your advantage by increasing pressure once you have secured a deep enough choke.
    • Control the distance: If you're smaller than your opponent, keeping your distance and creating space between you is important. Use positions like the spider guard to keep their weight off you and give yourself a chance to get into a better position.
    • Take the back: Taking the back is a great way to neutralize your opponent's strength and mobility. Once you have their back, you can work on various chokes and positions to submit them.

    Remember, it's not always about winning against bigger opponents but improving your technique and overcoming challenges. By focusing on technique and strategy, you can become a better fighter and rise to any challenge that comes your way.

    If you are searching for more helpful BJJ strategies, feel free to check out these two articles: 

    1. 10 Most Common Strategies for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
    2. Secret Competition Strategies In BJJ Tournaments (Unlock Success)

    The skill level and the mats are not lying

    In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the saying "the mats don't lie" refers to the idea that your skill level will be revealed on the mats. It doesn't matter how much you talk, how many accolades you have, or how tough you think you are.

    Your actual ability will be shown during sparring or competition. This is because BJJ is a martial art highly focused on practical application.

    Your ability in BJJ is determined by how well you can execute techniques under pressure against resisting opponents. There's no hiding behind words or theory when rolling with someone trying to submit you. The mats are an honest and objective judge of your skills.

    BJJ practitioners training in fantasy concept art by the ocean

    It's important to embrace and use this concept to motivate yourself to improve. Instead of being defensive or dismissive of feedback from training partners or instructors, approach it with humility and a desire to learn. Use the feedback to identify areas you need to improve, and consistently work on those techniques.

    Remember, the mats are a place to learn and grow, not to prove yourself. The more you focus on improving your skills, rather than just winning or looking good, the more you'll be able to progress in BJJ. So, embrace the idea that the mats don't lie, and use it to become your best practitioner.


    In conclusion, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an honest martial art because it allows you to see and feel the results of your efforts directly on the mats. There's no way to hide or fake your skill level in BJJ, as the results of your training are evident in your performance against a resisting opponent. The mats don't lie, and neither do your training partners or coaches.

    By embracing the honesty of BJJ, practitioners can push themselves to be better and grow their skills. There's no room for ego or delusion in this martial art, as you're constantly faced with the reality of your abilities and limitations. This honesty also extends to the community of BJJ, where respect for training partners and the art itself is paramount.


    BJJ practitioners training in fantasy concept art by the ocean

    By committing to the honesty of BJJ, practitioners can not only improve their martial arts skills, but also gain valuable life lessons in humility, perseverance, and respect. The mats don't lie, but they also don't discriminate. Everyone has the opportunity to grow and improve in BJJ, regardless of age, size, or gender. So, get on the mats, be honest with yourself, and let BJJ teach you the lessons of honesty and self-improvement.

    Sure, you can buy a ranked BJJ belt, but unless you have the skills to back it up, the mats will make sure you won't be wearing it for long. Stay honest and true to your practice, and the mats will do the rest. Thanks for reading!


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