BJJ Life Lessons: What Shark Tanks Can Teach You About Financial Debt

Under the waves circle two great white sharks.

We’ve all heard coaches talk about how BJJ can be a powerful tool for teaching lessons on life, morals and becoming a better person.


BJJ can teach you the importance of hard work; however, hard work isn’t the only lesson needed to prepare you for the harsh reality of life.


And to be honest, life’s pretty good at teaching us its own lessons; it doesn’t need Jiu Jitsu to do it any favours. However, when young budding athletes spend the majority of their lives in the gym, they rarely gain the opportunity to learn from the outside world.


How many young prodigies struggle to hold a conversation, come off rude, awkward, make crazy statements about a life they’ve hardly lived or make poor decisions when it comes to their finances? – Trust me it’s a lot… like a lot!


Shark Tanks & Crippling Debt – Learn From One, Avoid the Other


Look, debt isn’t all bad and it can serve a purpose if it doesn’t get out of hand.


The real issue is, can you repay your debt? And repay it before arseholes like interest, insurance charges and/or balloon payment apply their vice like grip on your reproductive organs?


Knowing this is the difference between diving headfirst into a swimming pool, or a river of shit – like Andy at the end of The Shawshank Redemption – and how your movie ends depends on how long you can hold your breath.


For Andy, there was a light at the end of the tunnel – but he still had to crawl through a river of shit to get there.


What’s a Shark Tank?


Usually reserved for competition preparation, the Shark Tank involves one person facing off against 2, 3, 4 or 5 fresh opponents, who tag in and out based on either a time limit or the achievement of a predetermined goal: the guard being passed, a position being advanced, a takedown, etc.


The Good Side of Debt and the Shark Tank


As I mentioned earlier, debt isn’t all bad, and it does have its upside. I mean, if it didn’t, people wouldn’t be willing to dive headfirst into it on a daily basis. And as gruelling as a shark tank seems, it too has its good side.


The good side to being in debt:

  • You have money to spend on what you want and/or need,
  • A perceived sense of financial freedom; and
  • A sense of validation, as someone was confident enough in you to lend you the money.


The good side of the Shark Tank:

  • You get to be the fresh person,
  • You’re at minimal physical risk, and
  • You’re able to beat up on the person in the Tank like the sadist you are.


The good side in both situations can make you feel invincible and on top of the world. However, it’s crucial to remember this “good period” will be short lived.


Don’t get carried away with feeling “good”, as feeling good is a fleeting emotion that can influence you into irrational and less than prudent choices: you may end up blowing all your cash, or your energy, in fruitless areas or make poor decisions based on false confidence.


The Inevitable Bad Side

Under the waves a diver wiith great white sharks.

Ok, so this is where the real analogy kicks in.


All of your training partners have been through the Shark Tank and that leaves just one person left to take up the middle position, taking on all comers – and that’s you.


You take on your first opponent feeling fresh and in control.


Just like your first debt repayments, this early stage isn’t too difficult, yet it is sobering.


As, you progress through each fresh partner, you start to feel your breathing get faster and your muscles tiring. You’re starting to understand that this is serious now and you attempt to conserve your actions and preserve energy for when you need it.


You see the strain the payments have on your social life and you decide to cut spending on discretionary costs like eating out, Netflix, buying coffee and avocados.


As your next fresh opponent bumps fists with you, you look up at the clock to see how long your turn in the Tank has left. You swallow with a gulp of disbelief and frustration, as you realise it’s only been 2 minutes! How can that be? It feels like you’ve been in the Tank for 15 at least, and there’s still ages to go!


With each debt repayment you check your calendar hoping time would hurry up so you could be done with this debt, already. It’s like you haven’t had an avocado in ages!  


You’re really tired now, and each fresh opponent is just making it worse. You feel like you’re always two steps behind, and just when it feels like you’re about to get the upper hand against your opponent, the timer rings and the next fresh one is on your back, dragging you down to hell again.


You’re really scrimping now. You’re doing everything you can to cut costs and allocate the savings towards paying your debt. Just when you think you’re about to get ahead, interest charges kick in, the car registration is due, the electricity bill arrives, you find out you have to have surgery on your knee, you fall pregnant and your best mate Terry decides to have his wedding in Bali – Fuck, Terry C’mon man!


If you let debt get on top of you, it will feel like a Shark Tank with no end. You may choose to refinance your debt, transfer the debt to another loan or borrow from your family. But, this is just like asking for a rest during the Shark Tank. You know it’s only a stay of execution, you will be ashamed of yourself, you’re training partners will mock you, and ultimately…

You will have to pay your debt in the Shark Tank before you go.


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