If you haven’t already noticed, Jiu Jitsu can be hard. Especially if you are a beginner. Common feelings for people who are just starting include: feeling like you aren’t progressing, being frustrated, and even thinking you could never master this. If these feelings describe you, don’t give up yet! There is still hope.
This article will have everything you need to know to help get over the learning curve in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Starting Jiu Jitsu
If you haven’t yet started Jiu Jitsu, this article could help prepare you with what is to come. Usually something people are surprised about is how hard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) can be, even with prior experience. Wrestlers in particular can be frustrated. Although you might have a phenomenal double leg take down, that’s only half the battle in BJJ.
Wrestlers often become vulnerable to guillotine chokes, and the annoying closed guard. However, don’t let this stop you. Once wrestlers learn how to protect their neck, they often progress very quickly to blue belt.
If you don’t have any prior experience, you should check out this article:
Frustrations BJJ Beginners Face
BJJ has a high attrition rate. White belts and blue belts have garnered a reputation for dropping out. The reasons why can be everything from injuries to girlfriends. Difficult things can cause unbelievable feelings of frustrations. Some of the reasons people become frustrated and quit are:
Rough Training Partners
Even light rolls can be uncomfortable, and every gym has one or two guys that have a reputation for loving rough rolls. You even might know who they are, and you might dread getting paired up with them. These people might be big white belts who hate loosing, or they might be competition level upper belts.
Don’t feel like you are obligated to roll with these people. You are not. Just remember that communication is key. A simple “Hey man! I’m rolling light today.” or “Would you mind avoiding this arm/ankle?” go a long way. Most training partners are very receptive and understanding.
Another tip is if you feel like a roll is going too hard for your taste, you ease up first. Maybe don’t push with your shoulder when you have side control. Maybe play a “catch and release game” where you might get an armbar, but let go shortly after. Don’t let someone else be the reason you quit.
The most common excuse you hear when you invite people to try Jiu Jitsu is “I want to get in shape first.” But consider for a moment that Jiu Jitsu can be something that helps you get into shape. If you are becoming exhausted after one roll, that is the process your body is going through, to get acclimated to wrestling. Remember, it takes time to get acclimated.
Maybe you feel intimidated because you are dramatically out of shape, and many people in your gym are in shape. Don’t let this stop you. Your training partners can be great sources for things outside Jiu Jitsu. Many BJJ guys do conditioning outside of class. Ask them about diet, weight lifting, and cardio exercises you can do.
Tapping Out to Smaller People
Being easily submitted by someone smaller than you is a benchmark in your BJJ journey. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, you’ve probably seen it happen to other people. Undoubtedly you might’ve felt like it was a fluke, and rolled with them again just to have the same thing happen. Maybe you took them down, but then they caught you in a surprise submission.
Take this as evidence that Jiu Jitsu works. Who knows, maybe one day you will be the small person, and tap out the bigger person.
Too Much Information
Sometimes black belts take the title of “professor” a little too literally. Jiu Jitsu has a lot of small details, and class can sometimes feel like a lecture. The best way to keep your attention is to get a notebook! Writing things down will help you remember and pay attention!
Check out this article to learn more:
Comparing Yourself to Others
This one can really get to you! Rolling with upper belts can leave you thinking, “I can’t imagine myself being that good.” Or sometimes it might look like the coach is giving more attention to the competition team instead of you. Finally, you might lose a competition on time against someone you know you could take in the gym.
Always remember, comparison is the enemy of happiness, and that there’s always someone better.
Fear of Injury
Once you have the pop of an ACL tearing, you’ll never forget it. Maybe you have some previous injuries that you are worried about. Don’t let this be the reason you quit. There are things you can do to mitigate the risk of injury. Weight lifting, joint conditioning, yoga for BJJ, are just a few ideas.
If you are curious, check out the “knees over toes guy” on Instagram.
Nothing is more frustrating than watching someone get promoted before you, or getting a stripe when you think you deserve a belt promotion. After a while, you might start thinking your coach doesn’t like you. It could very well be the same feeling as getting passed up for a promotion at work. But know that your coach probably has good reasons.
In the words of BJJ black belt Greg Sirico: “Trust the process” your coach could be holding you back because he wants you to kick but at competition.
Overcoming Frustrations When Starting Jiu Jitsu
Not giving up is a real superpower. The most frustrating part about Jiu Jitsu is the time it takes. But know that training is an investment that will one day pay off like you won’t believe it! Some great tips to help get you through the hard days are:
- Don’t Miss Classes
- Ask Questions
- Enjoy The Small Victories
- Challenge Yourself
- Embrace the BJJ Mindset
Your investment in BJJ training will pay off in multiple ways. You’ll meet people from all over who could come to be your friends, you’ll get into shape, develop character, and feel unbelievably confident in yourself. If you were interested, US Navy SEAL and BJJ black belt Jocko Willink has some interesting thoughts on this as well:
Jack is a D who holds a bachelors degree in English Literature. He enjoys traveling, reading, and the Bow and Arrow choke. One day he hopes to teach English overseas and become a published author.