“Leave your ego at the door” is probably one of the most given suggestions in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
But what exactly does that mean?
In general, it’s directed to the small, defiant child that continuously whispers in your ear, for example to not tap out even if the shoulder lock of the lightweight white belt really is pretty tight.

If you are forced to tap out despite all resistance, this particular small, defiant child will see to it that you’ll get eager to make your partner suffer for this ‘humiliation’ in the next sparring round.

In the best case those actions only result in frustration and a negative atmosphere between the training partners, but in the worst case it can lead to serious and most unnecessary injuries.

So, what to do with this small, defiant child called ego?
The advice to leave it at the door and let it wait is wrong in my opinion!
Instead, this child, which is a part of everyone, needs to be on the mat, too.
Like all other children (aka character traits) it has a right to become more grown up and more mature through constant training.
Because after all, this child has not only negative sides but also can help you with its strength through training lows and injury downs in the form of ambition and motivation.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be better than others, but it has to be in a healthy and targeted way.
The trainee or rather his ego has to understand that he cannot improve without his partner and that he and his partner pursue a common goal after all.

In jiu-jitsu winning and losing is not the main aspect. It’s more about improving with each training and constantly extending your repertoire with each training session.
Part of this means to apply what you’ve learned in sparring.
And of course you’ll be defeated by your partner every now and then.

Hence, tapping out, reflecting and going on is a natural process of progression.
Through a consistent training the child, that is ill-behaved and craving for drive satisfaction at first, will learn that instead it can grow up and use its strength deliberately.
In my opinion, a well-educated and mature ego is worth much more than the ego, that as a defiant infant waits outside until one day it accidentally slips through the door and comes rushing onto the mat in full rage.
If you recognize yourself in several of the following statements, it indicates that your ego still needs some education:

  • You preferably never tap out or only very late.
  • You don’t care about getting hurt or hurting others.
  • You train while being angry.
  • You know exactly who defeated you and how often.
  • You know exactly how often you defeated your partners.
  • You are sure that you are better than your actual belt color.
  • You tell your coach that it’s about time he graduated you.
  • You roll at 100%, no matter if you’re training with an older or lighter partner.