What Jiu-Jitsu Teaches About Business And Life, Lesson #12: Appreciating Breath


Yesterday I had a fantastic roll.  It was one of those rolls that you really feel good about when it is done, but it has nothing to do with the actual results (ie. whether or not you get a submission).  It was one of those rolls that when it was done, both of us lied on the mat absolutely exhausted, but fulfilled.

In our open mat sessions at our school we will usually go 5 minute rounds.  In this particular roll at the end of the first 5 minute round there was no submission, so we kept going, through the 1 minute break and into the next 5 minute round.  At the end of that round there was still no submission, so we kept going for another (third) 5 minute round.  By the end of that round we were absolutely exhausted and it felt great.

It wasn’t some incredible show of Jiu-Jitsu skill – far from it.  I’m a white belt.  I am in survival mode most of the time.  My partner was a purple belt and far more skilled than me.  Most of the 15 minutes were spent with me in a vulnerable position, just holding on to half guard for dear life, or giving everything I had to get a sweep, or just giving everything I had to avoid getting submitted.

There were many times during the roll that breathing was quite difficult for me.  Whether it was because my partner was applying steady pressure on me, or applying a choke attempt.  During one such attempt I literally had an epiphany, a sort of out of body experience if you will:

As funny as it seems, I thought to myself (in the midst of a choke attempt): I take breathing for granted.  It feels good to take a full breath. 

I laugh while thinking about this today, but this simple concept is part of what makes Jiu-Jitsu so compelling (and addictive):  It makes me appreciate breath.  I don’t think there is anything else in my life that makes me appreciate breath.  When I start appreciating breath I see the world in a whole new light.  I come out of that session feeling more alive than I have ever felt (despite being in a constant battle to breathe).

It is a wonderful paradox:

When fighting for life, I feel most alive.  I appreciate the little things.  I appreciate what I have to struggle to maintain.  I appreciate breath. 

There are so many ways I can apply this to my life and my business: being grateful for the little things.  Embracing the present and focusing my entire attention on what is here, and now.  When I appreciate and feel grateful for even the smallest things (like breath) I am a happier person, and I don’t want to miss a moment of life, I want to live it to its fullest.

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