Jiu-jitsu quotes capture the depth, philosophy, and power associated with jiu-jitsu.
In this article, I’ve included some of my favorite jiu-jitsu quotes that I’ve collected over the years.
I’ve sourced them from BJJ podcasts, BJJ books (and non-BJJ books), interviews, videos, articles — and even BJJ shirts.
Whenever I’m struggling with my jiu-jitsu — or with life in general — I find it useful to ponder these jiu-jitsu quotes.
(NOTE: Not all of these are strictly jiu-jitsu quotes. I’ve included some quotes that are more philosophical — but relate to jiu-jitsu.)
Best Jiu-Jitsu Quotes
1. “A black belt is a white belt that never quit.”
-Unknown (but you can get this quote on a BJJ shirt)
2. “When you get really good at something as difficult as jiu-jitsu, it makes everything in your life better.”
3. “Don’t listen to what people say. Watch what the best people do.”
4. “You have to build calluses on your brain just like how you build calluses on your hands. Callus your mind through pain and suffering.”
-David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
5. “No one is above the process. Every person with a color belt in BJJ was first the nail before they became the hammer.”
6. “The principles of Jiu Jitsu can be applied to every endeavor in life. You have stay calm when you are in bad situations. You need to cover and conceal your intent with other maneuvers. You need to utilize the simplest and most efficient methods. You need to prioritize your focus of effort. You need to train until you trust yourself to move intuitively, without having to think. You need to move at the right time. You have to defend critical areas. You should not attack your enemy’s strongpoints. You must utilize leverage. You cannot let your emotions drive your decisions. You have to establish a good base foundation to build upon. You cannot be overly aggressive, but you can’t just allow things to happen. When you make a move, you have to believe in what you are doing. You have to be mentally strong. You have to keep an open mind. You have to continuously learn new techniques while always reinforcing the fundamentals. You have to adapt your plan if circumstances change.”
-Rickson Gracie, Breathe
7. “The more time you spend fighting out of bad positions in training, the more confident you become in your defense. The more confident in your defense, the more confident you will be in attacking your opponent knowing that if you end up in a bad position, you can easily recover and go right back into more attacks”
8. “If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. And if you tire, you die.”
-Saulo Ribiero, Jiu-Jitsu University
9. “Here are four magic questions to ask a black belt: What is the EASIEST way to get out of this position, or what are the THREE BASIC attacks from here, or what is the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE move from this position, or what is your BREAD AND BUTTER escape to this attack?”
10. “When your purpose and your occupation is giving confidence to people, teaching self defense, giving empowerment, teaching a positive lifestyle to other people, you tend to emit that yourself because you want to live what you preach and you want to preach what you live, and I’m just trying to do my best.”
11. “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
12. “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
13. “It changes the way we move. It changes the way we speak. It changes the way we face life. When you know the intensity of that power, a halo of confidence begins to follow you in every moment. There is an incredible difference between those who experience their power only through the mind and those who also feel it in the body. A person who knows there is a wild wolf living under the skin has less reason to be intimidated by reality. The body becomes a source of confidence. Through the body it is possible to discover an inner strength that can help us overcome practical as well as spiritual limits. Even when the power of the mind is in doubt, the body can provide tangible proof.”
-Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path
14. “The more you attack, the more your opponent will make mistakes.”
15. “You win the fight in the training camp, not on the day of the fight.”
16. “Every time you train, train with the motivation and purpose that you will be the hardest person someone ever tries to kill.”
17. “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
18. “The best SEALs I worked with were invariably the most disciplined. They woke up early. They worked out every day. They studied tactics and technology. They practiced their craft. Some of them even went out on the town, drank, and stayed out until the early hours of the morning. But they still woke up early and maintained discipline at every level.”
–Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership
19. “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
20. “The body should be treated rigorously, that it may not be disobedient to the mind.”
21. “Civilize the mind, but make savage the body.”
-Ancient Chinese Proverb
22. “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
23. “He had come to see the Way of the Sword in a new light. A year or two earlier, he had wanted only to conquer all rivals, but now the idea that the sword existed for the purpose of giving him power over other people was unsatisfying. To cut people down, to triumph over them, to display the limits of one’s strength, seemed increasingly vain. He wanted to conquer himself, to make life itself submit to him, to cause people to live rather than die. The Way of the Sword should not be used merely for his own perfection. It should be a source of strength for governing people and leading them to peace and happiness.”
-Eiji Yoshikawa, Musashi
24. ‘“I suggest that you goal set to have a winning performance on the day of competition instead of goal setting to win the competition. What is the difference you ask? If you goal set to have a winning performance you will always be process-oriented and not outcome-oriented. You will be much less likely to over-try in the competition because you are always focused on the next step and not counting your score.”
-Lanny Bassham, With Winning In Mind
25. “I went in there and got choked 37 times by a purple belt, he put a clinic on me. Most people run when that happens to them, most people’s DNA will activate their primal monkey DNA and say listen, you just got humiliated in here, you are the weakest one in the room. You want to get the f*** out of here and never be exposed like that again get out. When I got tapped out 37 times I didn’t run.”
26. “The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”
-Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
27. “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
-Sun Tzu, The Art Of War
28. “When we work with our hands and build something, we learn how to sequence our actions and how to organize our thoughts. In taking anything apart in order to fix it, we learn problem-solving skills that have wider applications. Even if it is only as a side activity, you should find a way to work with your hands, or to learn more about the inner workings of the machines and pieces of technology around you.”
-Robert Greene, Mastery
29. “I have long believed that if a student of virtually any discipline could avoid ever repeating the same mistake twice — both technical and psychological — he or she would skyrocket on the top of their field.”
-Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning
30. “Always assume that your opponent is going to be bigger, stronger and faster than you; so that you learn to rely on technique, timing and leverage rather than brute strength”
31. “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”
-Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules For Life
32. “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
33. “In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.”
These are my favorite jiu-jitsu quotes.
I find that they motivate and inspire me to be the best version of myself on the mats — and in life.
What are your favorite jiu-jitsu quotes?
Or, what are some of your favorite quotes that relate to jiu-jitsu?
Leave a comment below and share yours!
Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment and BJJ blue belt who started training in 2019. He’s a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado who wanted to share his favorite pickups with other jiujiteiros. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for jiu-jitsu practitioners to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.