Many students at the beginner level in BJJ will encounter some of the most physical and mental difficultly than ever before in their lives. It’s not an easy thing to show up to an academy daily and get tapped out and physically dominated by a larger human. It actually can prove quite frustrating and explains the low attrition rate of BJJ students. Most BJJ instructors will tell you that keeping students is a challenge.
While it is an amazingly effective art through which many practitioners find a great deal of joy by way of people, the satisfaction of overcoming challenge, physical improvements and what have you, there is a bridge that must be crossed between being a beginner student and a life long practitioner.
What I have observed is that many students quit due to the simple fact that they cannot grasp the fact that frustration is a part of Jiu Jitsu. As a black belt, to this day, I still encounter many of the same emotional difficulties as a white though I am arguably better equipped to handle them. Something I try to tell all my white belts is that the struggle doesn’t end when you get to black belt but what you are capable of handling is significantly greater than when you started.
To me this is an important distinction, of course if you expect the difficulty and frustration to cease you will likely give up when discovering that it doesn’t. Understanding that black belts still struggle with motivation, discipline and frustration with their performance is key in continuing the journey you embarked on. There’s a saying in the fitness world that goes “training doesn’t get easier, you just get better” and the same is true for Jiu Jitsu.
Something I find motivating is the many people who certainly have had an excuse or two to quit but haven’t. Perhaps it’s the only girl at an academy with mostly men, perhaps it’s a very small person, or a weak person. To me those epitomize not only a black belt attitude but the true heart of a fighter. If the smallest kid in the class can show up with a good attitude and continue to take beating after beating every day can we not strive to handle a little more?