You just got home from work. You’re tired. You’re family is happy to see you. Jiu Jitsu class is starting in 45 minutes. Will you go or will you take a rest tonight?
Let’s face it BJJ has to be one of the most physically demanding “sports” known to man. It also is a ton of fun once the athlete begins to progress in knowledge and understanding. But why do so many people start training, fall in love with BJJ only to quit? I have asked myself this question many times as I have seen the turn over of students over the years. I believe the answer is because just like the rest of life, BJJ can be a grind. It costs you your time, your money, your energy and on top of that there is the risk of injury. When the “honeymoon” period of training comes to an end, what will keep you on the mat? For some, the honeymoon period is 3 months. For others, it may be when they reach Blue Belt and others even Purple Belt. No matter who you are, at some point you are going to have an internal conversation asking yourself, “why am I doing this?”. The truth is, if you don’t have a good answer prepared for that question, it might be the beginning of the end of your BJJ journey.
I believe more than ever, that BJJ is about the state of mind first and then the body second. For a new White Belt this is going to come as a shock because when he practices Jiu Jitsu it seems like it is all about the body. The body is screaming for oxygen, the body wants to quit, the body feels beat up. But, as time on the mat continues, you begin to see things differently. The mental aspect of Jiu Jitsu is where everything else springs from. How you retain and recall technique details, how you perceive yourself and define your limitations, how you measure your progress and how you view your BJJ journey is a frame of mind. Is it a 100 yard dash or is it a life long marathon?
The difference between someone who quits and someone who makes it to Black Belt and beyond is all mental. It is a decision to continue moving forward and to persevere. In the time that I have been training I have seen so many students that were so much better than me quit. They were more co-ordinated, stronger, faster, more flexible and better at retaining techniques. But they quit. So all of those natural assets are worthless now because they are not being used and exercised. Even worse the old adage rings true “if you don’t use it, you will lose it”. What a shame.
So what is the secret? What is the trick? There are no secrets and no tricks. It is simply a matter of having the right perspective when the internal dialogue takes place. Missing one week soon turns into two. Missing two weeks soon becomes a month and then six months and so on. Before you know it, you just quit BJJ.
So what should you do? I believe the key is to have a mental list (or written if that helps you more) of the positive aspects of Jiu Jitsu. In other words, your mind and external environment will by default provide a list of reasons you should take time off. My list looks something like this:
- You’re too old and you can’t expect to keep up with these younger, stronger guys forever.
- You’re too tired. Just take some time off and take a break.
- You should spend your time doing something else.
- What if you seriously hurt yourself?
- Remember when you gas and you are gasping for oxygen? Why do you want to do that… again?
- Your teammates are improving faster than you, you aren’t getting better, you’re just fooling yourself.
These are all reasons that have overwhelmed others at some time to the point of just saying “I’m done.” So why haven’t I thrown in the towel? Because I have a greater reason and a bigger list that keeps me hungry to press on. The bigger list looks something like this:
- You are in the best shape of your life!
- You can continue and do this into your 70’s
- I can feel secure anywhere I am about my ability to defend myself and others because I train regularly.
- I want my grandkids to be proud of my BJJ Lifestyle. (I currently have 7)
- If I take time off it will suck when I come back or better yet “if” I come back.
- I can go anywhere in the world and hang on the mat with young, strong men who train everyday.
- I won’t be a quitter. There is no turning back. I have come too far.
- This is a marathon not a sprint and I realize that sometimes I won’t feel like doing it but I am going to grab my gi and do it any way. (these tend to be the most rewarding classes for me)
- You will be a BJJ teacher someday helping others live a healthy and rewarding BJJ Lifestyle!
These are just a few. I have more and the list is always growing. So next time you feel like quitting or “taking time off” remember the reasons why you fell in love with BJJ to begin with.
Just my two cents. Thanks for reading.