The realization that I will be training Jiu Jitsu for the next 40-50 years has me reevaluating my practice.

I tend to view Jiu Jitsu through the lens of the point system. Even though I haven’t competed in years, when I am training with a peer, I am very aware of the “score.” I now see that this is a disservice to my growth and health. Rather than points, I now value a different metric:

Am I in a functionally strong position with which to safely carry a load and execute a technique without incurring damage while doing so?

This has proven to be a much wiser approach to training, as I simultaneously free myself of my ego and learn to optimally train Jiu Jitsu. For years, Professor Almeida has told me that the next evolution of my guard will come when I no longer have to go inverted to defend.

The volume of such action has proven to be a worthwhile metric for the effectiveness of my guard retention.

Recently in training my guard was almost passed, and as I have thousands of times, I spun upside down to face my partner and retain guard. While doing so I paid attention to my posture: knees tucked to my face, with weight on my legs applying great pressure on my fully-rounded lower back.

There is nothing safe or strong about this posture.

I didn’t get my guard passed, but I did so at the sacrifice of unnecessary wear and tear on my body. Had I simply allowed my partner to pass into side control and defended from there, I would have accrued considerably less damage.

Making this choice once seems negligible, but doing this over decades may prove to be disastrous.

My journey through Jiu Jitsu has been a perpetual realization of my ego. Every time I break through a sub-optimal pattern of thinking, I quickly realize a deeper, underlying flaw in my perception.

Points are an accurate metric of the events of a roll, but they do nothing to describe the damage done to one’s body on the way to acquire, or deny, those points. Optimal health and functional performance are very different metrics, and for most of our purposes, are far more important.

I plan to use Jiu Jitsu as a tool for personal development for the next half century. If I am to achieve this aim, I must constantly reassess the efficiency and safety of my movement in training.

My progress relative to my peers in the immediate is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is my performance relative to optimum performance over a lifetime. Jiu Jitsu is too beautiful to miss out on years of training because I was too stubborn while playing guard.

I will take healthy joints over points any day. I encourage you to do the same.

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