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Embracing the Art of Playful Presence: A Journey through Jiu-Jitsu and Life

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

Picture this: you step onto the blue mats, the smell of sweat lingers in the air, and the gentle hum of anticipation reverberates throughout the academy. It's a place where time can stand still, and every movement is a canvas for self-discovery. I want to keep coming back to these beautiful moments of being present, to this state of mind where time seems to slow down, and the world comes alive with vibrant colors and boundless possibilities.

Join me on a short adventure where I explore the magical connection between movement, breath, learning, and the art of being present.

The Game of Playful Learning

The practice ofJiu-Jitsu, like life, is a never-ending journey of growth and learning. It invites me to be like a playful child, eager to explore and discover. In the world of martial arts, every interaction becomes an opportunity to absorb knowledge, refine techniques, and embrace the present moment fully.

Playful learning can open doors to new perspectives and deeper connections. When I approach Jiu-Jitsu with a curious mind and an open heart, I create space for growth and transformation. By cultivating a playful mindset, I embrace the joy of exploration and adaptability, allowing me to flow with the challenges that come my way.

The Rhythm of Breath

In the realm of martial arts, breathing serves as my anchor, keeping me grounded and connected to the present moment. Just as the breath becomes the steady rhythm of a dance, it also infuses life itself with vitality and awareness.

During intense training sessions or even life's demanding moments, conscious breathing can act as a powerful tool to calm the mind and unleash our true potential. This is how I do it:

  • As I inhale deeply, I become aware of fresh energy entering my body, revitalizing every cell.

  • With each exhale, I release tension and find a renewed sense of focus.

  • As I inhale I say "calm" and as I exhale I say "relax".

  • As I inhale I say "energy" and as I exhale I say "focus".

This simple act of breathing, helps me to discover a gateway to the present, allowing me to fully engage with the art of Jiu-Jitsu and the unfolding moments of my life.

The Beauty of Movement

Movement is the language of life. In training Jiu-Jitsu, we learn to communicate and express ourselves through the art of physical movement. Every step, every twist, and every roll becomes a dialogue with our training partner, where presence is of utmost importance.

The beauty lies in the synchronicity between our thoughts and actions. When we move mindfully with intention, we unleash a waterfall of possibilities. We become aware of our body's capabilities, our partner's reactions, and the dynamic space we share. In this dance of movement, we learn to adapt, to flow, and to be fully present. In this way, the practice of Jiu-Jitsu has the power to become a vehicle for self-expression, both on the mats and beyond.

Applying Presence to Life

Over the last decades of movement practice, I have realized that the lessons learned on the mat, on the basketball court and in the water extend far beyond the physical realm. The principles of presence, playful learning, conscious breathing, and mindful movement find their way into every aspect of my life.

In my interactions with others, I strive to be fully present, listening attentively, and responding with empathy. In challenging situations, I remind myself to take a deep breath and ground myself in the present moment, finding clarity amidst chaos, and finding comfort whithin the uncomfortable. By moving intentionally through the daily tasks and experiences, I discover joy and fulfillment in the simplest of actions.


The practice of Jiu-Jitsu offers us a profound metaphor for life - a journey that intertwines playful learning, conscious breathing, and intentional movement with the art of being present. As I continue my exploration of this martial art, I am reminded of the transformative power that lies within each of us. By embracing the present moment, both on the mats and in life, we unlock the doors to personal growth, resilience, and joy.

Therefore, to all my training partners, friends and playful learners, I encourage you to pause, take a conscious breath, gather your thoughts, and embark on the journey of life with confidence. Embrace the art of Jiu-Jitsu, and let its practice guide you towards a life filled with purpose, connection, and endless possibilities.

Bruno Neeser is a natural movement trainer, breathworker, mindfulness coach, teacher and Jiu-Jitsu instructor living in Switzerland.

Bruno has taught numerous breathing and movement workshops over the years. If you are interested in Bruno teaching a breathing or movement workshop at your academy, school or company, please feel free to contact him at .

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