We Need ‘Slow’ To Be The New Fast in Our Jiu-Jitsu Training!

Speed isn’t fast. In a world filled, even obsessed with immediacy, we invariably miss the nuances of maturity, growth, and mindful presence . These three characteristics,  are essential to fully embrace the experiences we are engaged in.

Rushing through something doesn’t make it come quicker, but rather you find, that while you may get to the goal post, you got there with half the pieces of the puzzle somehow missing.

For example: I am a jiu-jitsu black belt. I never expected to become one. I got on the mat daily, rain or shine, and practiced. Some days were amazing, many days weren’t. I don’t believe I ever had much talent rolling around with sweaty people on the ground, but I kept at it anyway.

In fact, my realisation has been, that on those many ‘slow’ days when I hated jiu-jitsu — were the days that I learned the most, not only about the roll, but the art, and myself. While going slow improved my technique, going slow highlighted what I was actually made of, warts and all. Slow, going slow, slowing down, bears forth all of that which we so easily hide that we don’t like about ourselves, by keeping busy.

As I slowly plodded along in my jiu-jitsu journey, getting the next stripe, or the next belt, it became clear that it wasn’t as important as how I grew each and every day as a person on the mat. The process was slow, often painful. But I realised quickly, that every time I tried to speed up my progress, the more holes seemed to appear in my game. These gaps, were not always technical, but rather inner gaps, that really needed time to be worked through, to be nurtured, to develop. In other words, somethings, often the important things simply cannot be rushed!

I have taken this to heart in how I coach these days. Training with me these days is slow. There’s a reason I make it slow. There’s a reason I want people to take their time. In almost all cases when things are slowed down and a person is allowed to flow, the outcome is someone who becomes well rounded, not just physically on the mat, but in life.

Slow time on the mat, allows a person to work off, to file away their edges that have held them back from becoming a success not only in jiu-jitsu, but in their life, in their career, and even in their relationships with other people. As Carlos Castaneda reminds us:


“If a warrior is to succeed at anything, the success must come gently, with a great deal of effort but with no stress or obsession.” 


Of course not everyone likes or even understands my approach. Most people these days want quick answers, quick fixes and quick belts too. Some leave, go somewhere else, and step on the gas. But in doing so they often leave all that deep work they began to achieve in a cloud of dust behind them. Maybe they get better physically at their game, and tap the people out that they want too. But in the end, they will find that they moved with so much speed, that when a little pebble in their path appears, it has the potential to throw a submission on them quicker than they have a counter for.

In other words, slowing down, not only is good for your ego, your health, but also for you to have the time to see what really needs works on. What needs work on may not be your technique after all, but your ego. Tolstoy reminds us in reflecting on becoming more, on succeeding, that,

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”


My mantra in all my classes is this: Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. But clearly going slow, means more than simply moving at a snails pace.


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