GB Student Question: “I’m very busy. Can I still get better?”

A Gracie Barra student writes in and asks “I have a job, I’m taking a course some evenings and I need to spend time with my girlfriend. I can only manage to go to Jiu-Jitsu class twice a week. Is it worth it if I can only go twice per ㅤweek? Is that enough to get better? Or am I wasting my time?”

A great question!

The majority of us are not professional BJJ athletes who can train every day and perform strength and conditioning workouts on top of that. We have careers, school, socializing, and time with family. There never seems to be enough time to do everything that we want to do.
The short answer to the question is: Yes. You can improve in Jiu-Jitsu even if you are limited to 2 classes per week. As with any activity, the more hours that we can devote to practice, the faster we will learn. Now you won’t improve as rapidly as another student who has the freedom to go to the Gracie Barra school every day, but it is not a good comparison to make if your life circumstances are so different.
Training only once per week is probably not going to be very productive – especially in the early stages of learning Jiu-Jitsu. You will forget what you learned last week before you have had a chance to review and repeat the movements. We simply need a certain number of repetitions in a week time frame in order to burn the physical movements into our muscle memory and mentally reinforce the details.
You can do that with 2 x week classes. As importantly, you will stay engaged mentally in Jiu-Jitsu and keep some psychological momentum to keep coming to class. There are a lot of potential distractions in our lives and without connecting with our instructor and training partners at least twice a week, our motivation may start to wane.
Even for more experienced Jiu-Jitsu students, there will be periods in our lives where “life just gets in the way” and we must reduce our training schedule – or even stop entirely for periods when other obligations take priority.
For example, a student studying for exams week may need to temporarily pause their normal training schedule in order to fully focus on studying. They know that soon enough the exams will be over and they can return to a normal schedule.
There will be periods where we have a lot of spare time to devote to Jiu-Jitsu and some times where we will just maintain our training. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It is important to recognize that training BJJ is not only for younger people who have fewer responsibilities. Some of the busiest, high achievers that I know (who have perfectly valid excuses to say that they are too busy) MAKE the time to go to class at the Gracie Barra school.
Several years ago. I met a university Professor of Economics – who was also on the country’s National Economic Council – that was a 5th-degree black belt in karate. In light of his considerable commitments, I asked how he found the time to go to the karate dojo 3 or 4 nights every week?
“I have to!” he explained. “If I don’t go train I can not be as productive in the rest of my life. Training keeps me grounded, balanced, and feeds my energy for the rest of my time. If I stop training, I lose effectiveness in the rest of my life.”
I never forgot his message. Setting aside that time every week to train does not detract from our other activities and responsibilities. Instead, training Jiu-Jitsu feeds our energy and clears our thinking so that we can deal with all of our life challenges.
So if you can’t train every day, that’s ok. Just get into class when you can and enjoy the benefits of training Jiu-Jitsu for the rest of your week.
See also: Gracie Barra Kids Jiu-jitsu with Prof. Bryan Waltz
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia