Trust is Vital

Despite being considered an individual discipline, BJJ is very much a team-based activity. Now, a team may be as small as two people, or it may be several hundred people strong.

The key to succeeding in any team environment is the quality of the relationships you build with the rest of the crew. And the key to quality relationships is TRUST.

In Jiu-Jitsu we take a process of communication between two individuals to a whole different level. A regular Thursday evening training session will often take you from a nice collaborative chat to a mild argument, to a full heated debate. All expressed without a single word through intricate body movement with a single purpose of mutual benefit and improvement.

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When I am about to pair up with a partner for the training session, I am instinctively looking for a familiar face I trust without fear of a) being unintentionally hurt b) wasting my time due to the partner being stiff as a rock or loose like overcooked spaghetti.

In BJJ classes, you can often observe new people being the last ones to find a practice partner (even when the new person is an experienced blue or purple belt). And this has nothing to do with the other being unfriendly or anything like that. This is simply because they don’t know the new person and, often sub-consciously, decide to go with a ‘safe’ option, a partner that they have trained with before and who is on the same wavelength when it comes to BJJ training. Trust has not built up yet.

Give the newbie a few days to train and people get to know them – it becomes obvious that the person has a good command over their body movement and weight distribution, and everyone is now happy to train with them because of the fear of getting hurt from a reckless movement is gone.

Well, sometimes you get the opposite and the newcomer confirms the fears – they are impossible to practice a technique with because the words ‘resistance’ and ‘cooperation’ represent extreme versions on the spectrum of intensity. When you tell them to practice the movement without active resistance, they fall face down at the slightest touch, and when it comes to sparring, they jump around the mats like a wrecking ball.

For coaches like myself, it is obviously a priority to bring someone from the second scenario to the first one in the shortest possible time, so the rest of the team can trust them and mutual development process can flourish.

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In the office, the most stressful time is usually month/quarter/year-end. Deadlines are creeping up and you are looking for any help to balance out the workload and take some weight off your shoulders.

Let’s say, you have two junior colleagues who joined two months apart. One of them (#1) did a few minor tasks for you – precisely as required and on time. The other one (#2) only had time to do some mandatory training over the past week and didn’t have a chance to showcase their skills and abilities. Who do you turn to for urgent assistance on a project?

#2 may eventually turn out to be a star in the making – but not until they have time to gain the trust of everyone else in the team.  So it doesn’t matter how good you are – you won’t have a chance to prove it until others observe you in action, and get comfortable with the idea that you are not going to cause a fire.

You probably noticed that the focus in both office and BJJ gym scenarios is on the ‘safety’ aspect. In the gym, it is to do with potential injuries, in the corporate world – with reliability and various ‘fires’ related to sensitive data, client communication, and risk management.

Focus on proving that you are first and foremost a reliable member of the team, and see your relationships flourish.

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