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How BJJ Practitioners and Stock Trader are Cut from the Same Cloth

Stock trading and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) may seem like they are worlds apart. How could analyzing charts and clicking buttons possibly share any similarities with grappling on sweat-soaked mats with individuals attempting to strangle you? More than you might think!

While the two are unique skills, if you’re good at one, you would likely be good at the other. That is because the journeys of a jiujiterio and a stock trader, from beginner to expert, follow a similar path. Both require:

Regular practice. In BJJ we take classes that review and drill 2-3 specific techniques, followed by open “rolling,” a commonly used term for a grappling match. The stock trading version of this is back trading, where you test a strategy before you take it live.

It is not easy to practice something over and over again. But eventually, the thing you’re practicing starts to look different, and you look at it in different ways because you become so comfortable with it.

Discipline. There are times when you simply “don’t feel like” training, just as when there might be a back trading session planned and the last thing you want to do is look at a screen. There also will be times when you struggle to stick to your trading plan.

During a Jiu Jitsu match, either in competition or most certainly in daily training, you would “tap” before your arm breaks. Similarly in trading, there is a maximum amount you should be willing to lose on any given trade. Spending months sidelined because your ego wouldn’t let you tap is akin to blowing up your trading account because you couldn’t take a loss.

Both activities demand that you build the discipline to trust in the wisdom that losing is a part of any successful long term journey.

A plan. In BJJ, like in trading, there is a big focus on risk. You avoid positions that leave you vulnerable such as someone controlling your back. In trading, if you focus on managing your financial risk first, you will eventually be profitable.

To be successful in either you need a plan. As a stock trader, this is your trading plan, which typically includes criteria for entry and exit points, risk management strategies and position sizing. In other words, it’s a structured set of rules and guidelines that a trader follows to make informed and consistent decisions.

Similarly in Jiu Jitsu, your game plan defines your most direct and highest percentage path towards defeating any given opponent. You’ll have planned and practiced counter moves and scenarios that could derail you from that path, and have strategies to get yourself back on it when they do.

Continuous Improvement. BJJ and stock trading both involve learning how to do very specific things over and over again, refining the details of your approach over time.

In Jiu Jitsu, we will train from various positions that occur in a match, such as standing, closed guard and side control. For any of those scenarios, we practice our preferred submission attacks, defensive reactions, and counter attacks. From any specific spot, we have a planned response, which decreases stress, increases consistency, and reduces the need to make real-time decisions.

Trading strategies work in a similar way, designed to remove as much emotion from the process as possible. Finding strategies that suit your mentality, similar to utilizing BJJ positions that work for your body type, increase your chances of success. Both disciplines “reward the specialist,” as the practitioner who can consistently execute on a handful things extremely well and continue to get even better will eventually develop strong skills in either.

The Right Mindset From the moment you walk into a gym for the first time not even knowing how to tie your belt, or make the decision to pursue the freedom that stock trading offers without having owned stock before, your mindset will be put to the test quickly and consistently.

There is a lot of focus in both practices, and when you are doing either well, you enter a meditative state where you are extremely comfortable in typically uncomfortable positions. Belief in oneself is paramount to success as a jiujiterio or trader. You must build a conviction that you are worth the effort and deserve success. If not, any setback or loss threatens to derail you from your goals.

While the disciplines of stock trading and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may differ on the surface, the underlying principles of practice, discipline, planning, improvement, and mindset are universal. There’s a saying in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that a black belt is just a white belt who never quit. Something very similar can be said for the consistently profitable stock trader that endured years of losses, mistakes and setbacks to get there.

Both journeys are worth it.

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