Jiu Jitsu 12 Commandments

Grand Master Carlos Gracie (September 14, 1902 – October 7, 1994) was a Brazilian martial artist and founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  He also is the father of Grand Master Carley Gracie who, in turn, is the father of Clark Gracie, my own Jiu-Jitsu professor. Gracie fathered 21 children, 13 of whom earned the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. At the time of his death, Gracie had twenty-one children, one hundred and six grandchildren, and one hundred and twenty-eight great-grandchildren.

A man of great pride, for both his art and his family, Carlos often engaged in “open challenges” in which he would challenge other fighters from other styles to prove jiu-jitsu’s superiority. Early in his life fights and perceived insults spilled into the streets, sometimes causing Carlos legal problems.  While Carlos remained involved in Jiu-Jitsu until his death, in his later years he also focused on nutrition and philosophy.

John Gomez & The 12 Commandments of Jiu Jitsu

The other day I was training Jui-Jitsu at my academy, Clark Gracie Academy, in San Diego.   You will recall that Clark is the grandson of Carlos.  On the wall, Clark has painted a mural which shows the “Twelve Commandments of Jiu-Jitsu.”   I always read them and reflect upon them when I am there.   This day, however, I pondered how a man so martial and violent in some ways could come up with such a benevolent and loving set of guiding principles for life.   I suppose, however, that some element of that dichotomy has been my experience training Jiu-Jitsu as a whole.   My professors and training partners are really, really tough people on the mat.   However, they also are some of the nicest, most welcoming and polite people I have ever met.  I suppose when you commit yourself to fighting in a controlled structure, there’s not much room left for animosity in life and towards others.

And so, I decided the other day to share in my blog the Twelve Commandments of Jiu-Jitsu.  What Carlos wrote is not so much how to practice Jiu-Jitsu.  It’s more how to live your life.  And considering his accomplishments, his legacy and the fact he was born in 1902 and lived to the age of 92 (practically unheard of), it’s probably worth listening to what he has to say.   And so, what follows are Grand Master Carlos Gracie’s “Twelve Commandments of Jiu-Jitsu.”   I encourage you to read, reflect and apply them in your daily lives:

Promise yourself…

  1. To be so secure that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  2. To speak to all of happiness, health and prosperity.
  3. To let your friends know that you value them.
  4. To look at the bright side and turn your optimism into your reality.
  5. To think only the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best.
  6. To be as fair and as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are of your own.
  7. To forget about past mistakes, and focus your energy on the achievements of the future.
  8. To always make those around you happy, and smile when someone is talking to you.
  9. To spend most of your time on self-improvement, and no time criticizing others.
  10. To be too complete to feel anxious, too noble to be angry, too happy to feel frustrated, and too strong to be fearful.
  11. To have a good opinion of yourself, and proclaim it to the world. Not with loud words, but with good works.
  12. To strongly believe that the world is on your side, as long as you stay loyal to your best self.


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