The road to a black belt is long. It takes several years, and most people who start jiu-jitsu will honestly never make it to black belt. That’s not pessimistic, but a statistical reality. People start jiu-jitsu for couple reasons and leave for other ones. Everyone will experience hiccups along the way that will slow or completely halt a their jiu-jitsu career. This could be due to injury, change of heart, or a shift in life priorities.
Ask any higher belt and I bet they’ve seen a fair share of people who have come and gone with jiu-jitsu. As you move higher up the ranks, you will see many filter out. I feel that motivation is a major factor. People simply loose that motivation to train for numerous reasons. Here are some ways to stay motivated, and get what you want out of jiu-jitsu.
1. Set Goals…Realistic Ones
Some people start Brazilian jiu-jitsu with grandiose ideas. They believe it is easy, and they can get a black belt in three years. It’s important to set goals for yourself but set realistic ones. For example, if you’re a white belt who is just starting, don’t worry so much about getting a black belt. IT WILL HAPPEN WHEN IT HAPPENS. Focus instead on trying to master the fundamental techniques.
2. It’s Okay to Take a Break
I love jiu-jitsu. I also know that if you love something, you will miss it when it’s gone. Taking breaks from jiu-jitsu, even for a couple days, will help remind you of this. It’s also a good way to avoid burning out.
3. Constantly Challenge Yourself
Something easily achieved doesn’t provide the same satisfaction as something difficult. It’s important to challenge yourself every jiu-jitsu class. This could mean limiting your use of techniques to only those you’re uncomfortable with, rolling with a larger opponent, or maybe rolling without using grips (no hands). This will help sharpen your overall jiu-jitsu game and refine it over time.
4. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Individuals
They say iron sharpens iron. Having good training partners who can push you to the next level is important. Also, good training partners will keep you motivated and wanting to come back. Consider avoiding individuals with toxic personalities.
5. Face Your Fears
Fear is a roadblock. The fear of getting tapped, fear of loosing, fear of failing, fearing the responsibility, fearing competition. It’s okay to be scared. Fear is just an emotion, and emotions are what make us human. Facing your fears in jiu-jitsu is the first step to conquering them. Once you do, those fears will never stop you again, making you a stronger person.
Not everyone who starts jiu-jitsu is destined to become a black belt. Some will get there, others wont. Others will walk away from jiu-jitsu taking with them what they always wanted from the sport and there is nothing wrong with that. Jiu-jitsu is a gift and people can learn from it what they need. Regardless of what you choose to do, staying motivated is very important in all aspects of life. It’s what keeps us moving forward instead of constantly looking at the past.
Patrick J. Flores
Gracie Barra Chino