BJJ Quotes That Will Fire You Up

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If you train BJJ, you know that it’s not just a sport, but a way of life. Jiu Jitsu requires dedication, discipline, and a never-give-up attitude. In this article, we will explore several quotes from the most esteemed martial artists and provide real world applications for the wisdom they contain. Throughout the history of this martial art, many great practitioners and philosophers have shared their wisdom through powerfully crafted words. These words are not only inspiring but also offer valuable insights into the mindset and philosophy behind the martial art we love. So, grab your acai bowl and get ready enjoy the greatest BJJ quotes of all time.

Our Favorite BJJ Quotes from our favorite people

Helio Gracie

Helio Gracie is in many respects the founder of our art. Helio was the less physically formidable of his brothers. He lacked size and strength, and his stamina suffered due to pulmonary issues. These weaknesses made it difficult for him to perform the traditional ground fighting techniques passed down to him by his father Carlos Gracie, who learned from Mitsuyo Maeda, a cultural emissary from Japan. Helio made it his business to show Brazil and the world that the Jiu Jitsu he developed was the most effective martial art in which a smaller, weaker person could overcome a larger, stronger opponent. To do so he engaged in no rules fights against wrestlers and judokas, emerging victorious. This legacy of challenge matches was extended to his sons, who fought would become fighters themselves. This tradition of challenge matches is the foundation upon which Jiu Jitsu has built a mountain of success. Helio Gracie is known for many things, hopefully through these quotes you will derive some inspiration.

“I never defeated anybody. I just helped them defeat themselves.”

Think of it like this:  If you are able to craft your technique to perfection, all of your opponents will provide you with everything you need to beat them. Each movement they make will supply new openings to exploit. The question is, are you preparing? You can be sure that your enemy is.


“Jiu Jitsu is like a philosophy. It helps me to learn how to face life.”

Think of it like this:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a fighting style, and can be absent of value beyond its physical application. However if you open your mind, Jiu Jitsu can be a vehicle for self improvement. Think about the problems you are currently facing, no matter how big or how small, and look for the lessons that Jiu Jitsu can teach you about overcoming them.

“Jiu Jitsu is personal efficiency to protect the weaker…”

Think of it like this:  Through time and pressure, Jiu Jitsu will distill a person down to their most fundamental selves. The experienced practitioner will speak more softly and carry themselves with more confidence in who they are – because what they are has been shown to them over and over again on the mats. This confidence and power should be used to protect weaker people who do not have the same skills to bear.

Renzo Gracie

Renzo Gracie is one of the most easily recognizable figures in BJJ. He is known for both his infectious laughter, as well as tenacity in a fight. He has a storied MMA career in both Japan and the United States, and paved the way for other fighters, training them in NYC. Products of the Renzo Gracie Academy include George St. Pierre, Chris Weidman, Matt Serra, and Ricardo Almeida. This is the gym that gave John Danaher the opportunity to create the infamous Danaher Death Squad, who’s members are dominating the world stage.

“The More you give, the better you become.”

Think of it like this: To accomplish anything great, much sacrifice is required . In order to become good at anything, you must sacrifice the present desire for comfort and ease for the future acceptance of pain, fatigue and failure. The long term product of these discomfort will be the incremental improvement of the Jiu Jitsu you bring to the table. Right now you might be sat at home, or in your car dreading training. Sacrifice this feeling of comfort now, to achieve a level of proficiency and skill later. You will thank yourself.

“Every time I see an open space, I see a mat on the floor.”

Think of it like this: When interpreted literally, this quote has much value. You can train anywhere, with or without a partner. Whenever you find a moment, you can accomplish something. When interpreted abstractly, there is even more to glean from this statement. Jiu Jitsu is something you can take with you everywhere, and if you look closely enough the mats are everywhere you go.


“Life is about fighting. You have to fight everyday.”

Think of it like this: No matter what you do, life is going to be difficult. However, the question you must ask yourself is this: what outcome you want?

For example, being out of shape and physically incompetent is hard. Getting smashed by everyone at the gym, day in and day out is hard. Watching your body deteriorate from age is hard. Arguably, it is equally difficult to diet properly and get to the gym every day.

The difference between result of these two paths is stark. If you decide to sacrifice immediate pleasure in exchange for future satisfaction, at the end of it all you will occupy a body that will not fail you as you age, and you are rewarded far beyond what is immediately gratifying.

Develop the discipline to sacrifice present comfort for future benefit and you will soon inhabit a body and mind capable of confronting all of the challenges that life will bring.  

Both paths are hard, but which outcome do you want? You will have to fight every day, one way or the other.

Miamoto Musashi

A japanese style painting of Miyamoto Musashi

Although Miamoto Musiashi was not a BJJ practitioner per se, he was a master swordsman, and no doubt had encoutners with the root of BJJ – Ju Jutsu. Musashi is the author of The Book of Five Rings, a philosophical manuscript written by the Japanese swordsman in 1645. He is said to have been the champion of more than 60 duels, and the book is part of his great legacy. From its text we can extract much wisdom and in moments of weakness, a wealth of inspiration. He speaks constantly of “The Way” or “The Path”. Each of theses selected lines are,  generally speaking advice on guiding your behavior to align with The Way.


“You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.”

Think of it like this: The weakness found in fatigue of body must be abandoned to achieve. Set your body and feelings aside and elevate yourself to a higher standard, the standard that is required to improve.


“Do not fear death.” and “Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.”

Think of it like this: It is your goal as a martial artist to improve your Jiu jitsu, but more importantly improve personally. Cut away from yourself and let die these cumbersome attributes that prevent your forward progress. Do not fear the death of these things, the things that cause you to seek the comfort its own sake and nothing else.


“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”

Think of it like this: We often focus on externalities to carry us. Scrolling techniques on YouTube can suck hours each week from our schedules, but rarely will drilling any technique occupy the same amount of time. Find the holes in your game, and fix them.


“If you wish to control others you must first control yourself.”

Think of it like this:  Many may find this statement to be trite. I certainly did upon first reading it. But once I let go of the idea that I know everything, there are real applications to this statement, especially when it comes to Jiu Jitsu.

There are several false narratives that will draw you away from The Path.  “I’m tired” is by far the most common, and certainly the most effective excuse to avoid responsibility. Exert control over your emotions, and not the other way around. Once you can achieve this, you can set your mind to what is truly important. 

John Danaher

Danaher is without question the most influential figure in modern Jiu Jitsu. His coaching has produced unparalleled results. Athletes under his name include George St. Pierre, Gordon Ryan, Nicky Rodriguez and Gary Tonin. At their peak, his group of Jiu Jitsu competitors was called the Danaher Death Squad. The moniker was well deserved, as the athletes left in there wake the total destruction of precedented champions, paving a path for a new dominant force in Jiu Jitsu.  As a student of both the martial arts and philosophy, Danaher has much to offer. 


“The greatest skill of them all – learning: Every jiu jitsu athlete is in a constant quest to improve current skills and learn new ones as a means to performance improvement. However, there is one skill that stands above all other skills that one might acquire on the long road towards mastery – the skill of learning.”


Think of it like this: If you can focus your attention not on the outcome, but on perfecting the process of acquiring new skills, you will become unstoppable. 


There are many things that get in the way of our training. To aquire even the most basic understanding of ground fighting, an enormous amount of time is required. Most of us are not professional fighters, and cannot support ourselves on Jiu Jitsu alone, so other priorities prevent us from progressing as quickly as we want. The last thing we need is to get in our own way. I hope that these BJJ quotes have helped offer some inspiration, and will get you to the gym today and again tomorrow. 

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