Top 3 Reasons Why People Stop Training BJJ
In theory, jiu-jitsu is for everyone. The many benefits from doing our art is well known to those who practice it and we know it can work for everyone. However, there are many people who end up dropping off the grid, even before they reach blue belt. This is most frustrating for instructors who scratch their head and always ask, “But why?” In a few separate articles, I will go over the five most common reasons why practitioners choose to turn their backs on the sport. Depending on your life experience, you may find some of these reasons as excuses for something else, understandable or inapplicable. So let’s take a look at what I’ve heard and experienced over my time with BJJ.
Poor Time Management
Proper time management is one of the most important skills that any person can have. It allows people to reach their full potential by accomplishing as many things as possible on a daily basis. If you choose to start jiu-jitsu, you will quickly learn that it’s not something that can be taken lightly, especially if you become addicted. It requires dedication, and that means being on the mats as much as possible.
One of the most common excuses I’ve heard when people decide to stop training is “man, I just can’t find time, I work too much and I have my family.” The truth is, if this is your excuse, then you just don’t like jiu-jitsu enough – which is your choice, but don’t use that as an excuse. Many of you reading this now probably have full time jobs, children, or are full-time students. Yet, you are finding time to train. The truth is, you can find ways to make it work. Sure, you don’t have to train every day, that’s true. But even three days a week can keep you progressing and in shape.
In Brazil, I have seen some of the most dedicated guys in my entire life. These were not competitors or guys born with genetics from Hercules. They have professional jobs and a family. So what do they do? The most extreme of these every day guys, wake up early in the morning to catch the early-bird class, shower at the gym and go straight to work. They train again right after work and go home to their families. They repeat this Monday to Friday and then use Saturday and Sunday to relax with their families. That’s ten training sessions per week. Now, not all gyms have this kind of vast schedule available, but if your gym does, and you still use this as an excuse, then shame on you! You don’t have to train as hard as the guys in the example I gave you, but you can definitely squeeze three classes a week…if you really wanted to. So the real question is, how badly do you want it?
Many of us have probably heard in the past; “if you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way”. Well, it’s true. How far are you willing to go? That’s another question that only you can answer.
Lack of Motivation
Motivation is what we all need to accomplish anything worthwhile. Considering the amount of dedication that jiu-jitsu requires in order to reach the ultimate goal (a black belt for most of us, if not a championship medal), a lack of motivation can easily lead to a person dropping the sport altogether.
So what causes a person to lose motivation once they are enrolled in an academy? There are plenty of things that can go wrong and we don’t even realize. One of the major factors is a lack of leadership.
The job of the head instructor, or any instructor for that matter, is to not just teach, but to lead. Jiu-Jitsu is more than just a sport - it’s a way of life. The best way to demonstrate this is for the professor to be the example. If your instructor just pops in to just show some techniques and then leave, you are going to see a decline in how many students renew their membership. Students shouldn’t just feel like they are part of a club or gym, they need to feel that they are part of an institution that helps them live their lives to the fullest, because that’s one of the lessons that can be extracted from jiu-jitsu. The behavior of the instructor is detrimental to the motivation level of his students. So one huge reason why people stop doing BJJ is because their instructors are not doing enough to keep them interested.
Another thing that can cause someone to drop the sport is when they hit a plateau for too long. Plateaus happen to all of us – it’s the wall you reach that blocks your path to improvement. Once again, it’s your instructor’s responsibility to find as many ways as possible to help you push through it. But there are many cases where someone loses motivation when they don’t see an improvement. It’s human nature. The differentiating factor between those who quit and those who do not is sheer willpower. There are those that get angry and push harder when they don’t improve, some people just give up. So the truth is, if you decide to quit because you feel you haven’t improved in a while, then you’re doing something wrong. Perhaps finding a new school, or taking a new approach to your training is needed, but quitting should be the last option. If you’re the kind of person that will quit on something as great as jiu-jitsu, it just shows how you probably treat the rest of your life.One last thing that can destroy someone’s motivation is the vibe that an academy has. A lot of overly competitive schools fail in this area because they make casual practitioners feel self-conscious and unappreciated. Competitions and competitors drive our sport in many ways - there is no doubt - however, things can easily go overboard when someone underperforms and feels rejected, or if the standards are set so high, that people feel immense pressure from their teacher and teammates. Even when that pressure actually doesn’t exist, many competitors and casual practitioners can imagine it because that’s the vibe that is set by the instructor and his students. So what is the solution? Make everyone feel welcome. Winning is important, tapping folks is important too, but it’s not the most important thing. Students need to feel great about themselves, whether they win, lose or even if they don’t compete.
This particular reason for quitting BJJ seems more like a myth for people but it’s a reality. It applies more to very ripe beginners who may have only been training less than a year. If you’ve earned your blue belt, or even if you’re close to blue belt, you’ve definitely already swallowed your pride at some point in your training. You have been embarrassed by the higher belts and have been able to accept this in order to improve and develop, not only as a jiu-jitsu practitioner, but also a person.
However, some people just can’t handle the heat. It’s true. I’ve seen it and I’ve heard the stories. I think generalizing is usually a bad thing, and I’m guilty of it from time to time, but it seems that there is a ‘type’ of person that fits the shoe in this case. These guys are usually people who consider themselves ‘alpha’ males before they even step foot into the gym. They are either very successful in another field of their life and have received a lot of praise for their achievements. They think that the respect that they earned in these other fields translates into automatic respect elsewhere. The truth is, on the mats, the only things that count is your skill and how you treat your partners – that’s how you earn respect. Your money, your status and your background are utterly useless - no one cares. Once you put on the gi, the closest thing you can find to status is your belt. So when these ‘hot shots’ come to the gym, they receive a rude awakening like never before. Big muscle-heads get controlled by men and women half their size.
I’ve seen people with egos so inflated - they couldn’t even last until the end of their first class. Yes, it’s true. People have barged out of jiu-jitsu class because of frustration and never returned. Sometimes these people even try to bend the rules and find excuses, and you would be shocked at the things they say sometimes. These excuses usually include the famous “What? Why can’t I grab his fingers or throat? These rules are ridiculous.” All the way to “It’s stupid that there is no striking. If there was striking, it would be different”.
Clearly they didn’t read the description of the sport or maybe they did, and they don’t even care. You will often find people who have such little respect for jiu-jitsu (sometimes it will be higher belts from traditional martial art backgrounds) that they think they could walk in with no experience and defeat black belts. Again, those people are in for a rude awakening.
The cases I have mentioned so far are the most extreme. Usually, people do give themselves more time to see if they can adapt. But they don’t realize that jiu-jitsu is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t drastically improve and beat everyone within several months. And this delusion is what causes very egotistical people to train more and eventually give up. They just can’t handle the shame.Almost any seasoned jiu-jitsu instructor has experienced this to some degree throughout their careers. It happens – it’s part of human nature. It’s the instructor’s job to obviously implement the lessons of the