Three Ideas From Jiu Jitsu Philosophy To Inspire

Baltimore Jiu Jitsu Classes at Zenyo Jiu Jitsu
A timeless Jiu Jitsu philosophy we use at our Baltimore gym. These teachings of yesterday are a great guide for training.

Timeless Jiu Jitsu Philosophy

Jiu Jitsu is much more than fighting skills. Jiu Jitsu is life skills. There is a philosophy to Jiu Jitsu.

Teaching the tools of Jiu Jitsu, without the philosophy, is both dangerous and irresponsible. Martial arts can build discipline, control, respect, restraint and patience when that is the focus. Otherwise, the tools are just violence. The philosophy of martial arts—gentleness, mutual welfare and benefit, the best use of physical and mental energy—is indispensable to its training.

At Zenyo Jiu Jitsu, we know that martial arts can create a better world. We fight with each other on the mats, so that we can fight for each other off the mats. We are all one. This is the philosophy of Jiu Jitsu. This is its beauty.

“The purpose … is to perfect yourself and contribute something to society.” – Jigoro Kano

Three Amazing Ideas

The ideas behind our philosophy is descended from Jigoro Kano, who was born in Japan in  1860. Kano was a black belt in three styles of Jiu Jitsu. He used his knowledge to modify his Jiu Jitsu into what he called Judo— “the gentle way.” He developed a three-part philosophy to help students reach for their full potential. (Read a more detailed history: Timeline Of Jiu Jitsu From 1400)


The first principle is Ju-No-Ri – or “gentleness.” This can also mean flowing with things. With gentleness as the mindset to guide you, you can practice in a safe way.

“The pine fought the storm and broke. The willow yielded to the wind and snow and did not break. Practice Jiu Jitsu in just this way,” Kano writes. 

Mutual Benefit

The second principle is Jita Kyoei – or “mutual welfare and benefit.” This means that all students must be safe and benefit from training. This is the true spirit of training, all students working together for the greater good.

“If everyone acts with the spirit of mutual cooperation, each person’s work benefits not only himself, but also others, and attaining this together will bring mutual happiness,” Kano writes. This philosophy works great in both our adult and kids Jiu Jitsu classes

Maximum Efficiency

The third principle is called Seiryoku Zenyo – or “maximum efficiency and minimal effort.” 

Zenyo (pronounced zen-u) also means “best use.”

“Whatever it is that you do,” Kano said of Zenyo, “envision the best purpose for it, and use the energy of your body and mind in the most efficient way to achieve that purpose.”

You can read more about the philosophy we use in Kano’s book, Mind Over Muscle.

Jigoro Kano Judo
Jigoro Kano

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” 
— Carl Jung

Philosophy In Action

The philosophy of martial arts is indispensable to its training. Philosophy, however, is not practice. 

To turn philosophy into action, we branch out into science. How do we learn? How do you develop your own Jiu Jitsu? The answer is surprising. 

Research suggests that play might be the brain’s favorite way to learn. 

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct,” writes renowned psychologist Carl Jung. 

Training should not always be serious. Too much stress and effort — always striving for perfection — can lead to frustration and stagnation. It is paradoxical, but students who stop trying so hard to improve actually improve the fastest. See how we put this philosophy into action in our training at Zenyo Jiu Jitsu: Take Your Jiu Jitsu Game To The Next Level At Zenyo 

“We have no muscles which, when contracted, render our thought processes more productive,” writes German philosopher and educator Heinrich Jacoby. 

“If you are . . . entirely given over to something, more can happen in a shorter time — and what happens can be very productive — than many hours of brooding over and exerting oneself may yield.”

The three philosophies we follow at Zenyo Jiu Jitsu are gentleness, mutual welfare and benefit and maximum efficiency and minimal effort. To turn that philosophy into action, we concentrate on the science and psychology of learning and development. A complex subject is really quite simple: To create your best Jiu Jitsu: be safe, help your partner and train smart! (See the link below for an in-depth look at the science of how to fast track your Jiu Jitsu.)

All About The Revolutionary Training Method We Use At Zenyo​

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