I’m not fighter but there is a lot I’ve learned from five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, Marcelo Garcia. Garcia’s genius seems to be that he thrives in a space that others are actively avoiding: change.

In jiu-jitsu, the aim is to wrestle or grapple your opponent to the point where they give up or tap-out; this is called a submission. To get to a submission, the opponents try to get into strong tactical positions to apply leverage with various types of locks, holds of chokes. As the fighters try to move to better positions, they go through transitions in search of the submission.

Change and Transition

Most fighters seem to focus on the positions they have or want to get into, using the transition phases to progress into better positions. Garcia, on the other hand, seems to focus on the transitions. He sees the fight in a different way, the transition is the key, not the position.

While everyone else is fighting for better positioning, he’s working toward better transitions. As the other person gets set in the position they have been working for, he is already changing things and upsetting their position. His style has been described as smooth, graceful and elegant and has clearly brought him success.

Life is all about change and transition. Nothing is static, everything is always changing. Somehow though, we seem to want to get into a position in life and hope it remains the same.

You cannot step into the same river twice,
for other waters are continually flowing on

This quote is attributed to Heraclitis, a Greek philosopher whose view was that change was central to the universe.

Change is Constant

Your mind-body changes constantly. Within your cells, structures are in a state of flux being built up and broken down every second of every day. Cells, themselves are continually being made and shed. You lose and regenerate the cells of your lungs every 6 months and your intestines every 5 days. Health is the careful balance of cell renewal.

As a person, each experience you have every day shifts your perspective on some part of life. You change on an on-going basis. As people change, so do relationships. The ‘happily ever-after’ myth is an example of our human tendency to want things to remain the same and it flies in the face of reality. Healthy relationships have intentional focus on each person’s evolution and our evolution in relation to the others.

When we hold on to what is and reject the flow of life, we are like a fighter stuck trying to hold a position that is slowly choking us. Embracing change and transition is a key to playing the game of life elegantly.


Cell Turnover and Adult Tissue Homeostasis: From Humans to Planarians. Annu. Rev. Genet. 2007. 41:83–105