Secrets are powerful, but how do you know they are real? You cannot take it for granted; you must test it yourself.

Many grappling arts contain the same techniques as BJJ. Japanese jiu-jitsu, for example, may contain many of the same techniques but trains them very differently. As with so many traditional martial arts, Japanese jiu-jitsu tends to be practiced with planned cooperation. I hold you in this way, you apply your technique, but I don’t try to stop you while you’re doing it. It turns out that things work very differently when someone is actually resisting. Reality doesn’t always match theory, so knowing what to do is not enough. You must constantly test your theories.

Perhaps the most significant factor in jiu-jitsu’s success as a martial art, aside from its core strategy and philosophy of adaptability, is the training method by which it is practiced. Randori. Sparring. “Rolling.” The practice of trying to apply your techniques against a skilled, resisting opponent. It is in this crucible of sweat and strategy that we gain a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

In the business world, traditional product development looks something like: 1) spend months or years and millions of dollars to come up with the perfect product; 2) spend millions more to market it and hope people buy; 3) succeed or fail.

Ryan Holiday’s Growth Hacker Marketing discusses the secrets of growth behind companies like Amazon, Uber, Facebook and Evernote. With the advent of the internet, a new model, “growth hacking”, has emerged. Growth hacking is the process of 1) creating a “minimum viable product” (MVP) that you think will be effective with/liked by consumers; 2) testing that product with actual customers; 3) making changes to the product based on feedback; 4) repeating steps 2 and 3 until you have a kick-ass product and a horde of testers/future customers already invested in the product’s success.

“Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments that lead to growth of a business.” (Wikipedia)

Jiu-jitsu works the same way. You have your own MVP — a certain technique or strategy you have practiced enough to try against resistance; you try it in sparring; if it works, great, and you see how it can become more efficient; if not, you examine why.

Jiu-jitsu is growth hacking. It is taking small, efficient steps to improve your position while using your failures to expand your understanding.

Have you been moving ahead under an untested assumption? What are small tests you can create to get quick, actionable feedback on those assumptions? How can you build your position — knowledge, customer base, experience —while honing your offering?