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Quitting is Easy, 5 Must Do’s to Protect Yourself From Yourself
So you’ve made the commitment to give jiu jitsu a shot? That’s great news, as the saying goes, white belt is a high rank than sitting on the couch.
Starting out jiu jitsu can be very intimidating. It’s not an easy thing to learn. As a matter of fact, it’s arguably extremely difficult for most people to learn. Like anything, you will see a direct correlation between the time and effort you put in and the results you see. I remember my first few weeks on the mats. The thing is, quitting jiu jitsu is easy. I’d venture to say it’s not even intentional most of the time. It starts with missing a class, then another, then dropping to only going once or twice a week, then less and less until you decide that whatever you’re spending that time doing is more valuable to you than jiu jitsu. This happens at an alarming rate when people reach blue belt rank.
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Obtaining your blue belt is not an easy task, some may argue it’s the hardest rank to achieve because of the sheer volume of information you have to learn to get there. Obtaining your blue belt means that you’ve learned the terminology, the etiquette, a solid foundation of techniques as well as many other things during your countless hours spent on the mats. It’s been said that a jiu jitsu blue belt should be able to handle themselves well in any street fight situation, which in my opinion is partially why we lose so many people at this level.
The reality is, like any skill, if you’re not building the skill, you’re losing the skill. Think back to a time when you rolled with and OG that “took some time off” and when they come back their timing is off and they aren’t nearly as tough as you remember. This is because you continued perfecting your skill while they were at home drinking beer and eating potato chips. Use it or lose it.
I started training at a new academy in the area when they first opened. Luckily for me, although it did feel like luck at the time, I was one of very few white belts sharing the mats with some OG blue and purple belts that had been training for quite a while.
These guys were quick to show me how much I bench pressed didn’t matter on the mats, I was in the ocean now and it was time to learn to swim. Over the next several weeks, months and years I would spend countless hours with my whole team, but this core group from the beginning continues to be the ones that give me the most. The most trouble on the mats, the most questioning when I don’t make it to class, the most of everything. This leads me to what I feel are the top 5 things you must do in order to protect yourself from your own brain telling you to quit.
1. Surround yourself with people that will tell you the truth. On and off the mats it’s important to have people in your corner, supporting you, but often times it seems people confuse support with coddling. Find the people that you talk about your goals with, but also the people that are not afraid to call you out when you’re slacking.
2. Show up. Commit to yourself how many classes you’re going to take per week and make it happen. There may be times you don’t want to be there, that’s fine, show up anyway, go through the motions, fake it if you have to. You’ll start to notice the more you do this, the less you have to force yourself to show up. There are so many more benefits of being on the mats than just learning a martial art. Spending time on the mats can reduce stress, combat depression, clear your mind, and all around make you happier in life.
3. Contribute. It’s not all about you. Remember how you were treated when you started training, what did you like? What kept you coming back? Likely it was largely in part because of how you were treated by your teammates. Be the reason someone comes back. There are a number of ways you can contribute regardless of your rank or skill set. Being a good drilling partner is probably the most basic way you can contribute. This means, having clean gear (no one wants to train with the smelly person, wash your gear!), being polite and courteous to your training partner, especially if they are new. Make everyone feel welcome. Don’t fight the technique or go down a rabbit hole with your partner of why the move doesn’t work and the video you saw on YouTube. Respect the instructor and your training partner and get the reps in. You can also contribute by offering to assist with kids classes, or if you’re experienced enough, possibly adult classes too. Regardless, find a way to contribute at your academy. This will make you feel a sense of pride and ownership, and should make you feel accountable to being there.
4. Acknowledge the benefits of training often. At least weekly I talk to someone about the reasons why I train. Sure, I want to learn jiu jitsu, but what I enjoy most about training is my teammates, and the environment we all helped create. For me jiu jitsu is one of the only places my brain is forced to me in the moment. It’s really hard to think about work, or relationships, or whatever else if consuming your thoughts when someone is trying to choke you. Jiu jitsu forces you to focus your attention to right now! I know I certainly feel better mentally and physically after training. There hasn’t been a day yet where I thought to myself, man, I wish I didn’t train today.
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5. Fall in love with the process. Jiu jitsu isn’t an instant gratification sport or hobby. It takes time. A lot of time. If you’re goal is to get a black belt in a martial art with the least amount of time and or effort possible, find your local karate McDojo and have fun. Jiu jitsu is designed to push you, build you up, force you to grow physically and mentally stronger. Learn to love the process and not put so much emphasis on the color of the belt around your waste. At the end of the day, your belt is yours, it’s a representation of your journey. Being a blue belt doesn’t mean you’ll never get tapped by a white belt, you may, if they train harder and more often than you do. For me it’s not about the color of the belt. There is no finish line in this journey, Enjoy the ride.
I honestly believe that if you spend some time on these five things, you’ll find yourself happily committed to the martial art and have very few if any days you want to quit. These are the things that I did, or happened to me over the last 5 plus years of training that have kept me coming back and helped keep me from being yet another blue belt that quit and added to the statistic.