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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Staying Motivated for BJJ

So you've been training for awhile now and the honeymoon is over. The excitement of something new has tapped out to BJJ now being fully-integrated into your normal routine. Then, combine that with the fact that you're a White Belt--so you're most likely getting smashed fairly often--and you've got a deadly combination that could lead to you going DOJO MIA.

Those of us that have been around awhile have seen that happen before; it's normal. But it doesn't have to be. There's a saying that goes: "Jiu Jitsu is for everybody", and I think that's mostly true. I say "mostly" because while it may be for everybody, it may not be for everyone right now. Some people may be too overweight to enjoy it, smokers, or have some other health restraint that stands in the way of them really enjoying  Jiu Jitsu like the rest of us. But one of the more beautiful things about Jiu Jitsu is its ability to resolve those issues by sticking it out. I've seen Jiu Jitsu beat obesity & help people lose weight, I've seen it help people quit smoking, too. Now I'm now silly enough to call it 'the cure for what ails ya,' but if you think back to the emotions you had flowing through you that first day, after that first class, then you know it can be beyond motivating--it can be therapeutic. But what about when you run out of motivation? How do you deal with the valleys that (undoubtedly) come directly after the peaks?

The first step in staying motivated is keeping yourself focused. In Jiu Jitsu, you're your own worst enemy. Your own self-doubt is going to be the devil on your shoulder that you're going to have to A) Ignore, or B) Shut up. That self-doubt won't stop at class either. It's the same self-doubt that's been following you around your entire life telling you that 'you can't/shouldn't.' But you can. You have. You've walked through the doors to your gym before, not knowing ANYTHING about Jiu Jitsu and persevered because you told that self-doubt to 'shut up' and you pushed through. And look at you now: grown as a person, more knowledgeable in our sport, You're already so much better today than you were when you started. You're more competent--you don't (completely) suck like you think you do. And if you still feel like no matter what you do  that you're still in a valley, then that's just all that it is--a valley.

Peaks and valleys. We've all been there. One week(s) you're good, doing everything right, and walking out of the gym on top of the world. Then--as if the Jiu Jitsu Gods saw you smiling--the next week you're getting smashed into the ground by everyone at the gym (in front of your instructor, no doubt) and you've suddenly went from the top of the mountain to the lowest of the low without warning. These valleys can be discouraging. They're hard to get over/through and, worst of all, that self-doubt creeps back in. These times are good times to hit what I call "The Reset Button." You need to step away from the current situation, step out of yourself, "hit reset" and then go back to work doing what you know how and want to do. I really feel that this is where the modern age of the Internet helps leaps and bounds over more traditional methods. More specifically, enter Stuart Cooper / Stuart Cooper Films. If you don't know Stuart by now, he's--more or less--a guy who loves Jiu Jitsu and shows it through videos. Personally, I find them to be the "reset button" I need to refresh myself and remind myself what makes Jiu Jitsu so special and why I love it. I feel like after I watch one I can get back to work and shrug off whatever self-doubt I have, and push though. Here's an example of Stuart's work.

A lack of promotions can also get you down--understandable. But you can't dwell on promotions, or the lack thereof. Nobody wants to get stuck in their belt forever, but you can't be motivated by the next stripe or belt promotion. Yes, the whole idea of this blog was to help you through the White Belt phase and on to blue, but the "Survival" aspect of this blog is the focus. Believe in yourself and have fun with Jiu Jitsu. If you're not getting the promotion you think you deserve when you think you deserve it, then, relax; use that hiccup of time to expand your game, develop your style, contribute to the community in some way (like a blog, or design some clothes, homie!). Keep your love for Jiu Jitsu alive and well by going the extra mile off the mat in hopes that it'll translate to on-the-mat love. You shouldn't dwell on, well, anything really. But dwelling on not getting your next stripe will drive you crazy. And it's something you can't control. Your instructor will promote you when they want to--it's that simple. Let the promotions come when they come and enjoy the ride the rest of the time.

My Friend Luca Supporting Me the Day I Became a White Belt Survivor

My Homegirl, Ellie G, & Some of Her Friends

Training partners become your best friends, that's just a fact of life. They know you better than anyone. They know your personality, your physical limits, and what your body parts smell like--in the nicest way possible, of course. Keeping friends at the gym (and not being a jerk) is perhaps the best way to beat the lack of motivation. Friends will send you texts, keep you off your ass on the couch, I love going to training to see my friends. I love helping them get better, drilling stuff, and (of course) laughing when I get to choke them out. But I also enjoy keeping them motivated. I lean on my friends, too. when I need a shot in the arm. Making friends at Jiu Jitsu is natural. Having a positive attitude and keeping your friends is a process, but I really feel like it's important to your progress to have an accoutabil-a-buddy at the gym. So, help your friends dammit!

In closing, don't get too caught up in the doldrums. The best medicine for Jiu Jitsu valleys is to go to Jiu Jitsu. Don't skip class. Don't stay home. Don't be the guy who no one likes because you're a jerk. Be like "Dori" from Disney's Finding Nemo, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming!"

Today's Post brought to you by:
VVV Fight Co.

Awesome products all around. Great Gis, sweet (soft) tshirts, and cool people running the show. Please check them out next time you're looking for a new gi or sweet bjj tshirt.

The MMA Movement Podcast

For all of your fun MMA talks (Almost) weekly. I sometimes sit in with Izi & Robert and talk about upcoming MMA events, and we tell you how to bet--if you're into that sort of thing. But we cut up and have fun. Give it a listen. 


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  2. Jiu jitsu has helped me improve my life in innumerable ways. Beyond the obvious benefits of being healthier and getting in better shape, I truly feel that jiu jitsu has motivated me to improve myself outside of my athletic life as a student, professional, and a person. Karate in Connecticut

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