Christianity VS. Health VS. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)

Triangulating Jiu Jitsu…to Christianity…to Health
I’ve made individual comparisons between 2 of these three from time to time. The more and more that I think on it, the more similarities that I find. I think there is a large community of Jiu Jitsu practicing, Health oriented, Christians out there – So, I think triangulating these 3 things is a simple one that so many people can use.
I was just listening to an online sermon this morning (via and the topic was Philippians, chapter 3. It is a letter from St. Paul to the Church of Philippi (one of the earliest churches to be found in Europe and early center of Christianity in Greece).  Here is an excerpt from that Sermon that stood out to me:

“There’s always something to learn. There’s always new lessons to be applied. New truths to be understood. And you know what? Tomorrow, there’s change. The day after that: there’ll be change. That the Christian life is about on going learning, repentance, humility and change. You never reach a point where you say “That’s it, I’ve arrived! I’ve gone ‘varsity’! I don’t need to repent or learn any more. I’m now mature.” That’s not what he says. No one gets perfect in this life – that’s Glorification. If you are a perfectionist and look to check off the box of “full sanctification” – you will be perennially frustrated. And the result will be that you will lose your joy,because you will think that perfection is something you can attain. It’s something that we aspire to…just like every athlete wants to hit every shot. But it’s nothing that we expect that we will actually accomplish in this life. It’s something we can grow in, we can mature in, we can progress spiritually – and we should, if we’re true Christians, experiencing Sanctification. But you should find comfort when Paul says “I’m not perfect” (Philippians 3:12): that should allow you to be gracious with one another. A little more patient. A little more humble. “

This stood out to me in many ways. First: it’s a great message! Perfectionism isn’t our ending result in faith…but is something we always strive for. Knowing that it can’t actually be attained shouldn’t discourage us from progressing, but should encourage us to grow spiritually –and do it in a humble way. Approaching others with the same sentiment that if they aren’t as perfect as we want them to be in something, we can approach their flaws with more patience and grace – understanding that perfection is something none of us (including the guy who just dropped the ball and really got you angry) can truly attain in this life – and, just like you, that other person is on a path to progress… perhaps at a different pace than you…but the unifying thing between you two is that neither have reached that point of ‘perfection’/Glorification.
Ah…so how does this “triangulate”, Sean?
Glad you asked!
I’ve made many mentions to people about the connection I make between Spiritual Health and Physical Health. And, in short, I think they are interlinked in their process and approach. I equate fad-diets (trying to fix 11 months of poor eating, in 1 month of strict…often unhealthy…dieting) and fad-spirituality (trying to fix months…years…decades of sinning and making baddecisions with 1 week or month of prayer and confession). How often do you (or someone you know) eat poorly through the Fall and Winter then, come May when it starts to warm up – you get started back at the gym and on a ‘clean’ diet, perhaps aided with supplements or diet pills—only to repeat the same cycle once summer is over again? Equally: how often do you (or someone you know) live a sinful, care free, party driven, deviant, or dishonest life…10 months a year…then occasionally have a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with yourself, start back at the church, skip a couple clubbing nights, confess your sins, truly repent—only to repeat the same lifestyle choices several months later?
I’m not saying anything ground-breaking here. We all either ARE or know that person. I point no finger….I’m speaking to myself here too! Neither of the above scenarios are ones that work…they are faux diets and faux spirituality.  They seem to work sometimes, but at all times – they don’t work for long. The true key to Spiritual Health and Physical Health is for you to make LIFESTYLE CHANGES! It is important to LIVE your spiritual change, daily. Yearly. For Life! This is where TRUE Spiritual Health resides.
  • Don’t just be a ‘Weekend Christian”…or a “C&E Christian” (Christmas & Easter).
  • Don’t just be a Christian to other Christians….
  • Don’t just be a Christian when you speak…be a Christian with your actions….
  • Don’t just act as a Christian…react as a Christian! …you get my point.
Same for your physical health. Frustrated that your lovehandles re-appear every year? It has a lot to do with your temporary changes and your faux dieting. You must make a LIFESTYLE change in your daily eating regiment in order to see real change and permanent change! This is everything to do with INTERNAL health as it does your EXTERNAL appearance….don’t just LOOK Healthier….don’t just LOOK Spiritual….BE Healthy! Be Spiritual!
To round (corner?) out the triangulation, I introduce Brazilian JiuJitsu – “The Gentle Art”. I have to start by admitting that I’m a big supporter of this Martial Art. It has proven itself in the ultimate test against all other Martial Arts and the results have spoken for themselves to the degree of worldwide exposure to this incredible art. The triangulation to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, though, brings me back to that Mars Hill sermon of Philippians 3 that I was listening to today. In Jiu Jitsu (just as, in our spiritual path) we recognize that there is no such thing as ‘perfection’. There is never a moment where anyone is able to say “well, that’s it – I’ve done it…I’ve learned all there is to learn. I have matured as a Jiu Jitsu athlete and can go no further”. No, in fact, Jiu Jitsu is an ever-growing art. I heard that part in the Sermon about Christianity and felt eerie at the direct relation it was towards the practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:

“There’s always something to learn. There’s always new lessons to be applied. New truths to be understood. And you know what? Tomorrow, there’s change. The day after that: there’ll be change. That the Christian life is about on going learning, repentance, humility and change.”

And what is the Jiu Jitsu life about? If you ask me…it parallels that definition of the Christian life.
 It’s about Learning,
Repentance (“a change of mind and heart”…talk to Jiu Jitsu athletes and you will see what I mean by this definition. They begin thinking of life’s problems through the paradigm of Jiu Jitsu and the flow of basic problem solving and ‘choosing battles’),
Humility (If this art does nothing else for you, it will humble you!)
Change (it is a forever evolving sport, even the best Jiu Jitsu athletes today are forever learning – forever working to change with theArt).
I feel that if I’m able to approach my Christianity, my Health & my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with these same principals of on going learning, repentance, humility and change – that, while there may be no plateau of perfection, there will always be growth as a Spirit, a Man, and an Athlete towards what we should aspire for with humility and grace.
I’m curious of your thoughts on the Triangulation of Christianity, Health & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

About cleanleansharp

Lover of all things: God, Family, Health, Jiu Jitsu, & Huskers


  1. Tony Chung

    I completely agree that Spiritual Health is tied-in with Physical Health. When God gave the Israelites all the dietary regulations in Leviticus, it was for Spiritual purposes (being Holy) as well as to help maintain physical well being. We can’t neglect our Physical health and expect great Spiritual connection with God. Our bodies are a literal temple that is suppose to be taken care of….there were certain OT priests whose job was to taken care of the physical temple. We also have a job to take care of our physical temples, our bodies in which the Holy Spirit dwells.
    I really like your concept of triangulation between Spiritual, Health, and BJJ. Let’s develop the concept more and teach it to people.

  2. Chris in South SD

    Interesting…. I rededicated my life almost 2 years ago and started in BJJ maybe 6 months ago. My church has a BJJ mens group that I started at meeting 1 day a week and then 2 months ago, started training at the academy mid week as well. I have drawn so many parallels from my Christian walk to my jits game. Being new and a white belt, most of my time is spent defending….. much like when I first rededicated my life. God removed the fish hook of addiction out of my lip, but I spent much of my time defending attacks of temptation. And learning having a solid base in jits is a fundamental building block. Without a solid base, we get easily swept and submitted. God really showed me that in our spiritual walk, our base, our foundation, our balance is His word and prayer. Without it, we are easily swept and submitted. Another thing that God has been teaching me, is keeping calm in the midst of bad situations. I have a tendency to run on instinct, react or spaz out. I was watching a video by Rener and Ryron Gracie. They were speaking to this and saying that you have to maintain the calm. If you are not calm, if you a trying to muscle out of bad situations, then you miss the windows of opportunity for a reversal, sweep or submission. Paul speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” God will provide a way out, but we have to maintain that calm, and be able to see that way out. Often times, we miss or out opportunity by spazing or trying muscle our way thru stuff…. or at least I do. BJJ and the Gracie Humaita eastlake family here in south San Diego have been awesome.

    Health wise, when I started I weighed in just south of 220 and I’m 6’3″ built thinly built… long and lanky. At the same time, we implemented a much cleaner diet for the whole family. Mostly gluten free, organic, no high fructose corn syrup or processed this or that…..more my wife’s gig on that one, but did it to help my daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD. So anyway, dropped a few lbs from diet alone, but then add in the gym a few days a week, mainly strength training and then jits 3 days a week and right now I’m hanging in the 195lbs range. So that is roughly down 25lbs, and I feel like there is still more to go. I was not kind to myself growing up, so I have bad knees and a destroyed ankle etc etc. So losing all the extra weight is so much easier on all my lower joints. Turned 38 this year and haven’t seen a sub 200lbs in at least 17 years. Feeling great, cardio is getting better, have more energy etc.

    Hope to continue this journey for a long long time.

    God bless and protect yo neck!!!

    • great GREAT in put Chris!! I concur with everything you included! Congratulations on your transformations (spiritually & physically)!! Feel free to find me on FB as well – I really love running into people that are passionate about the parallels between our Christianity and BJJ! OSS =)

  3. Reblogged this on cleanleansharp and commented:

    “There’s always something to learn. There’s always new lessons to be applied. New truths to be understood. And you know what? Tomorrow, there’s change. The day after that: there’ll be change. That the Christian life is about on going learning, repentance, humility and change.”

  4. Billy

    I am working on starting a BJJ men’s small group at my church. I have been working on the parallels I have noticed between my Christian walk and BJJ and how BJJ can be one method to demonstrate such. May I utilize your blog (giving proper credit of course) as one of the lessons?

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