Over the course of my design career, I’ve regularly noticed the impact Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) has had on my basic design principles.
- How to deal with difficult situations:There’s nothing like another person trying to break your arm or choke you to realize, “hm, this isn’t good, how do I work my way out of this?”. BJJ supplies a sense of urgency to solving problems and avoiding danger. Whether its how to escape an arm bar or heel hook, or how to deal with a difficult design project the same lessons can be applied.
- Embrace the grind:When people asked my teacher what they needed to do in order to get better, he always replied the same way “mat time”. The only way to get better is to…well do it. Don’t worry if others are progressing faster than you, or if you had an off-day (of which I have many). Just put in the time and down the road you will benefits. The same goes for design. People always mention the term “You got an eye for that” like it’s a genetic thing. That “eye” is trained through countless years of experience. Through putting in the work and always observing the smaller details.
- Humility:You’re gonna have bad days. You’re going to fail. It’s how you internalize these experiences that make you better. Project deadlines could be missed, design mock-ups could be displeasing. Just understand that this isn’t the defining factor. The first year I started doing BJJ I always lost. I’ll repeat that I ALWAYS LOST! I’m not kidding, there may have been a few that I actually was able to submit someone but for the most part I was the one always being strangled. But guess what happened after, I kept going, and I kept learning. Losing taught me humility and humility taught me respect. To respect all others and never view yourself higher. Being strangled by 110 lb men and women (especially when you’re a 180 lb man) will do that to you.
Now since you’ve read my ramble, here’s a highlight reel of my favorite BJJ practitioner