If I ask 100 students, “How long would you like to train jiu-jitsu?” The majority will answer, “Forever.”
If we ask 100 black belts, “What percentage of white and blue belt students on any given mat, will be training jiu-jitsu in 10 years?” They usually answer 2-5%.
My experience tells me 10 % of people quit because of the following reasons:
1. Distance – Life moves people around and sometimes away from the mat. 2. Money – Nothing in this world is free so when money is tight, jiu-jitsu classes sometimes take a hit. 3. Family – Family deserves more of your free time than anything else in the world. 4. Work – Sometimes work may get hectic which interferes with your training schedule. 5. Injury – All physical activities run the risk of injury and jiu-jitsu is no exception.
I have found that 10% of jiu-jitsu student quit for the above reasons. However, 90-100% use them as excuses.
I believe that the number one reason students quit is expectations.
Your instructor, training partner, fellow teammates, and you yourself, have expectations.
For instance, you may be a blue belt sparring with a white belt and find yourself in the middle of passing your partner’s guard. Within this scenario, not only is your coach watching you spar, but all of the students at your academy are watching you as well. Your instructor may coach you through the guard pass technique, but all the while, your partner has swept you. Often times, jiu-jitsu students feel so emotionally attached to their belt rank, that having a practitioner with a lower rank sweep them in front of everyone at their academy, can be a demoralizing experience. You may feel as though you let your coach down by not meeting their expectations of you and you may feel as though the students who were watching you spar, now think less of your jiu-jitsu technique. However, the feeling of demoralization one may feel from a scenario such as this one, is completely subjective and only experienced as a result of someone feeling as though they have not met the expectations of others.
In addition to having a white belt sweep you, your coach may tell your training partner, “nice sweep.” A person’s emotional attachment to perceived expectations (whether real or not), may cause them to overlook the bigger picture. In this instance, passing the guard is a very challenging task. Even if you get swept within your attempt to pass the guard, your attempt at passing the guard should still be counted as a step of progress in your jiu-jitsu journey. Unfortunately, this accomplishment is often overshadowed by a person feeling as though they have not met expectations of others, in this case, overlooking your own progress because your coach complimented your training partner.
Now, imagine having experiences like these for a year.
It’s completely understandable that when you hurt your finger or are given more hours at work that would use these as excuses to say, “I have to stop training for a while.” Many students would feel embarrassed to tell their instructor that they wanted to quit training because they felt as though they weren’t doing well. However, if students were actually honest with their instructor and told them that they felt frustrated with their training, then they’d be surprised to learn of how accepting of a response they may receive. If you were to share how you were feeling with your instructor, then they would probably respond, “I remember feeling the same frustrations and you are not letting me down; jiu-jitsu works for us and against us.” And if you mentioned how uncomfortable you feel knowing that the other students on the mat feel that you are not deserving of your belt and how you yourself are starting to feel as if you are not deserving they may respond, “ When on the jiu-jitsu journey, it is important that you compare yourself to nobody but yourself. There will always be someone younger, stronger, and faster than you. Although these characteristics are not prerequisites to learning jiu-jitsu, we cannot deny that being younger, stronger, and faster comes into play when technique is close to equal. ”
Next time you are swept, stuck in a position, or even submitted, remember why you stepped on the mat in the first place. You were looking for something fun and challenging, a place to escape everyday noise while learning techniques and principles that you can apply in a street fight or any life situation. We get all of these benefits and more when train jiu-jitsu. So don’t tap to the expectations of others or your own, but instead, set a new expectation for yourself: Train jiu-jitsu for life.
Don’t let the things that matter least, stand in the way of those which matter most.
Expect Less, Get More.
Check out this video for more insight on how to play jiu-jitsu for the rest of your life.