GB Motivation: Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

A question that I enjoy to ask Gracie Barra students is “What motivates you to train Jiu-Jitsu?”
The answers can be quite varied. Just as Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone – people come from many different walks of life – those different people pursue Jiu-Jitsu for different reasons.
Ask your training partners where they derive their motivation to show up and train several times each week and you might spark an idea that fuels your own motivational fires.
When we speak of human motivation (and in this case motivation for Jiu-Jitsu), motivations can be broadly separated into 2 different types.
External motivation and internal motivation. What is the difference?
“Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment. In this case, you engage in behavior not because you enjoy it or because you find it satisfying, but in order to get something in return or avoid something unpleasant.”
What are some of the sources of this external motivation for the student of Jiu-Jitsu?
    Peer pressure and encouragement to show up to training sessions by other students in the class
    The goal of achieving the next colored belt or stripe graduation
    The pride of winning a gold medal in a sports bjj competition
    Young people doing Jiu-Jitsu may be looking for approval from their parents and coaches in recognizing their efforts
All of these examples come from external rewards from the student themselves.
While these are all helpful reasons and contribute to our continuing motivation to maintain our discipline to train, many studies have proven that it in fact intrinsic motivation – the other major type of motivation – that is the far stronger motivation for us to pursue and stick to challenging goals – especially over a period of years.
So what is intrinsic motivation?
“Intrinsic motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding; essentially, performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. Essentially, the behavior itself is its own reward.”
Some forms of extrinsic motivation for the Jiu-Jitsu student might be:
    The pride and satisfaction of overcoming ones personal limitations and becoming proficient in a new skill
    The joy of sharing the incredible art of Jiu-Jitsu with others who shares a common, positive goal
    Watching your favorite training partners improve alongside your own efforts and enjoying your teammates successes
What does this mean for the Jiu-Jitsu student? It means that those of us that stick to Jiu-Jitsu over a long period are doing it for our own personal reasons and not to please parents, achieve external measures of success (like trophies or belts) or posting photos for ‘likes’ on social media. Those external reasons don’t seem to last over the long haul.
The students that seem to stick around Jiu-Jitsu for a long time have decided that they love Jiu-Jitsu for their own reasons and want to make it part of their lives. They are fueled mostly by internal (and sometimes private) goals that keep them focused over the years it takes to one day be a black belt.
Gracie Barra wants to know: what motivates YOU to train Jiu-Jitsu?
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia