The BJJ student who seeks to train religiously and be blessed by constant progress must avoid the vices that harm their health—which, as Master Helio Gracie would say, are "calluses in people's personality."
But the first step is to take stock of which behaviors harmful to their health—be it of the body, mind or soul—the person has been carrying onto the mats. Check out the seven deadly sins applied to jiu-jitsu, and endeavor to be a more virtuous and enlightened student every day, whatever your religion.
Pride, or vanity, the sin of those who are excessively arrogant. Pride may be the most common sin on the mats—and the one that charges the highest price, as it makes one consider themselves much better than the others and, in the blink of an eye, be caught in an unexpected attack. Vanity, as well as being a fatal trap for those who train, is also a dangerous mask. Often the vain person uses arrogance as a mask to disguise their mediocrity and lack of ability. That is, this is someone who is still far from understanding some of the basic concepts of jiu-jitsu. But there's an effective medicine against vanity. Humility, in gargantuan doses, given that it has no side effects. Upon noticing that vanity will do nothing but hinder their jiu-jitsu studies, the humble practitioner starts worrying only about their constant evolution, and not the spotlight or the comments made by others.
Exhibited by those who care too much about material possessions. In the dojo, the worst sin is to be cheap with techniques and not share knowledge with your training partners. In competitions, there is even the cheap athlete, who doesn't display more than one or two techniques, and saves up to the point of winning all fights by advantages. But, as the masters well know, jiu-jitsu was born to be a rich art, to present thousands of escape options to a single problem. The greedy fighter insists on doing the same thing and is happy with being economical with techniques. From being so cheap, they end up poor of friends and technical resources—and nobody wants to train with them anymore.
The passionate, selfish desire for all corporal and material pleasures. It can be the ruin of those who let themselves be dominated by passions and addictions. Grandmaster Carlos Gracie used to recommend fighters have sex in moderation. He added, “Whatever philosophical or religious orientation we follow, it must never mean lack of care for the body with which we came to this world.”
The sin of those who ignore the blessings they have and desire the status and skills earned by others. Like vanity, envy must be chased away daily as you enter and leave the gym. It's important to be grateful for the physical resources you possess and not compare yourself to your training partners, whether they are higher-ranked or not. The secret to dodging this sneaky sin is to strive not to care about degrees and belts, and only compare yourself to yourself, to your younger, less athletic version of when you started jiu-jitsu. It's the best way to gauge your evolution and not succumb to the pressure of having the same skill level as the people around you. After all, nobody is the same as anybody else. Don't envy; train more.
Gluttony prevents the fighter from eating adequately, respecting the times for digestion and wise choices for food, such as fruits, salads and light meals before training. When we eat well, we’re always light enough to train and we have good digestion. When we eat a big meal, it’ll be a while until we can train again, or we’ll get to the gym feeling slow and heavy. Our body works like a machine. If you put in fouled fuel, it will complain; if you put in normal gas, it will run just fine. If you invest in premium gas, it will run much better still. Avoid alcohol, invest in salads and natural foods, and you will fly on the mats.
During training, wrath is a highly harmful sin that makes a fighter hurt other students and get a bad reputation. In competitions, it’s a surefire way to get defeated. BJJ has to be tackled with cold blood, with professionalism and also with a hint of fun. Wrath is not a useful feeling during a fight, because it makes the athlete more nervous than normal, and stops them from following their opponent’s reasoning and movement. After the fight, you may even go and be mad at the loss—but the answer should not be lashing out at people. Are you angry? Use your anger as fuel to return to the gym train three times as much, and evolve.
It's the state of negligence and slowness. In jiu-jitsu, the excessively morose student ends up harming themselves from the first few weeks. It's the case of the guy who is late for training due to negligence, forgets his gi damp or dirty or always has his belt on wrong. Sloth is the main enemy of training consistency. There are always those days where the body doesn’t want to get out of bed, but sloth can never be allowed to take over. Once the training plan is put in place, we have to follow it thoroughly. It’s on the rainy and cloudy days that true champions are made.