Joe Hannan

How long have you been training?

8 years

Why did you begin training?

A coworker who trained had a hunch that I would enjoy BJJ. One day, totally unprompted, he asked if I’d like to try it out. I went with him to Performance Jiu-Jitsu in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where I took my first class and signed up on the spot. I never looked back.

What encourages you the most about your practice?

Observing the constant growth in myself, my peers, and the students. The path to a BJJ black belt is a hard one. For most of us, it’s among the most difficult journeys we will ever take. If you commit to that journey and walk every step of it with intention, growth becomes a byproduct of the process.

What challenges you the most?

Myself. Through Jiu Jitsu, I’ve confronted and worked through a myriad of self-imposed limitations: things like self-doubt, Stephen Pressfield’s idea of Resistance, and deficiencies in grit/resilience. It’s almost impossible to take on these forces in the abstract. We need an embodied practice to work through them, and Jiu Jitsu is my embodied practice.

How have you evolved as a result of it?

Jiu Jitsu has made me a better husband, father, leader, and entrepreneur. It’s helped me become more adept at navigating change and transitions, more open and receptive to possibility and emotion, and more attuned to life’s internal and external workings.

What is something that you learned about BJJ that was unexpected?

Externally, Jiu Jitsu appears to be dominance-focused. And dominance is a part of Jiu Jitsu — you are attempting to pin and/or submit your opponent. But Jiu Jitsu also demands receptivity. You must be attuned to your partner, their movement, their mental state, their psychology. It’s just as much a practice of receptive listening as it is of dominance.

Any notable accomplishments, interests or facts you’d like to share?

In addition to my involvement at the school, I work in the peak performance consulting space with Emily Kwok. Jiu Jitsu is the arena in which I train the principles of peak performance and work to better understand how adults develop and change. I discuss these ideas on my podcast, BJJ Meditations.

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