Many people who start jiu jitsu quit within the first year. Why do some beginners stick with jiu jitsu while others quit? The common explanations are that jiu jitsu is too hard, takes up too much time, causes injury, or that it is too expensive.
To address the real reasons why some white belts quit it is important to look deeper than the usual explanations given for quitting. Below are five reasons why white belts really quit jiu jitsu (beyond the excuses), and some strategies that can help beginners stay on track.
1. Train consistently
Without regular training it is impossible to progress in jiu jitsu. Progress will be too slow if you only come to practice once or twice per week. Importantly, we don’t learn jiu jitsu alone, our training partners are also attending practice and developing their jiu jitsu game.
Consistently attending practice adds up. Certain skills are cumulative. If you only attend practice occasionally your progress will stagnate. You will forget things you learned, and your body won’t develop as fast as it should. You will find yourself being regularly beat by training partners who started at the same time or even after you. Eventually you will become demotivated and look for an “out” or excuse.
Before quitting ask yourself if you have regularly put in the practice you need to be a successful jiu jitsu player. This may be the real reason you have become demoralized. Before quitting, try attending practice three times per week for three months. Your jiu jitsu game is certain to improve and your mindset will also shift in a positive direction.
2. Do not be ego driven
If you think you have to be the toughest or best jiu jitsu player every roll, if you are constantly trying to smash your opponents or get angry when you have to tap, you are probably being driven by your ego. The same thing applies if you are obsessed with chasing the next belt or if you are constantly comparing yourself to others. Being humble will ultimately allow you to progress in jiu jitsu faster and further.
Ultimately jiu jitsu is about respect, and respect is love. It is up to you to adopt a mindset of love and respect for the sport, love and respect for your teammates and coach and school, and love and respect for yourself. If you are becoming demotivated and want to quit jiu jitsu ask yourself if you have the right jiu jitsu mindset or if you are being driven by your ego.
3. Find balance
A white belt quitting early because jiu jitsu is too “hard”, is ironic. In fact, jiu jitsu gets harder all the time! If you quit at white belt you are actually quitting when it is easiest. One key to help face the increasing challenge of jiu jitsu is to find balance in your life.
Whether it is in your work, relationships, finances, diet, sleeping habits, or your temperament, jiu jitsu will require a balanced life for you to progress. In fact, the gift of balance is one of the greatest things jiu jitsu can offer you. If you are thinking of quitting jiu jitsu ask yourself if you are living a balanced life and seek ways to find that balance.
4. Set goals
Goals are milestones which help us mark progress and give us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. When we start jiu jitsu it is normal for our main goal to be to progress to the next level. Over time it will take longer and longer to reach the next belt level, so setting other kinds of goals will be important to keeping motivated.
Even at white belt jiu jitsu has more to offer than just a belt promotion. There are competitions you can attend. You might decide to compete. You can travel to a different city and roll in a dojo, meet new people, and you can make new friends. You can attend a seminar. The list goes on. If you are feeling demotivated as a white belt, ask yourself if you have set any goals for yourself besides getting to blue belt.
5. Have fun
One of the main things that makes jiu jitsu worth it is having fun. All the tips given above, from consistent training, to setting goals will help make jiu jitsu more fun and enjoyable. Setting a goal of having the most fun and getting the most enjoyment out of jiu jitsu every day is a good objective.
Ultimately jiu jitsu is like life, and it is up to you to create your own reality and life. If you are not enjoying jiu jitsu, try to find answers within yourself of what you can do to enjoy your jiu jitsu experience more. Not everyone can become a jiu jitsu world champion, but everyone can enjoy their jiu jitsu experience if they choose to and put the effort in.
Jiu jitsu is very challenging, but everyone who practices jiu jitsu faces the same challenges. The difference between people who stay in jiu jitsu versus the ones who quit is that they look beyond excuses and try to find answers within themselves for what they can do to stay focused and on track. The five suggestions above offer ways for white belts to ask the right questions and find answers within themselves to the challenges of jiu jitsu, instead of making excuses and ending their jiu jitsu journey before it has really begun.
T. d. Santos