GB Student Question “Sometimes I feel like quitting!”

A Jiu-Jitsu student who has been training for a little more than a year wrote in with the following story: “I have been going to BJJ class as regularly as I can. I’ve had to deal with a few minor injuries – nothing serious. But I just don’t feel like I’m getting any better. Sometimes I get so discouraged that I feel like quitting!”
The student asked if I had any advice on this problem?
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Most of us – even the top competitors in your Gracie Barra school – feel this way at one time or another. And if you are a purple belt and higher, you will have experienced (and endured) several mental and physical slumps over the years of your training.
So, if you are feeling discouraged, it might be helpful to know that you are not alone. That the occasional slump is part of the deal when we are working hard at mastering something difficult. Our progress is not on a straight, steadily climbing, uninterrupted trajectory. There are periods of plateau and even regression (for example if you sustained an injury or if work/life/school demands kept you off of the mats for a short period) in ALL of our training.
As Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, we must learn to practice resilience and patience and have faith that we can work through difficult periods. Can you think of anything valuable in life that does not involve persevering through challenging circumstances? Jiu-Jitsu is no different.
Another more subtle factor is that your mind may be playing tricks on you. That is to say that you may in fact improving, but the rate of progress is slow and you are not able to detect these small improvements. Furthermore, you are most likely measuring your progress by how you are doing in rolling with your regular classmates.
Maybe you can no longer hit that Scissors sweep that you used to be so successful with. Maybe your guard is getting passed distressingly easily lately? But don’t forget…the other students around you are ALSO training regularly and improving. They also are learning and not as easy to catch as only a few short months ago. It isn’t just you.
Most Jiu-Jitsu students experience discouragement at one time or another. Some do stop coming to class and we never see them again. But I bet that if you ask the senior belts in your class if they have ever felt like quitting they will have a story where they too felt like giving up. But the brief but strong feeling of discouragement is temporary and will soon pass. They just kept coming to class and worked through it until they regained momentum and enthusiasm for training.
And, I bet that if you stick it out just a little longer, that feeling of discouragement will pass.
And remember, if you quit…at any time you can pick it up and start again. There is a well-worn saying that just happens to be very true: “A black belt is just a white belt who never quit.”
See also: GB Technique: Straight Arm Bar Variations
Writer: Mark Mullen, Gracie Barra Black Belt