I was looking through my twitter feed this morning and came across a post from somebody seeking some advice for a training partner.

“…Any words for my training partner who might quit because no confidence in his grappling sensibilities?!”

This really got me thinking about what can motivate you in jiu jitsu and (perhaps more importantly) what demotivates you.

You can get demotivated for all sorts of reasons. Lack of time to devote to training, hitting a plateau, ongoing or nagging injuries, a perceived lack of progression, and poor competition performance can be serious detractors. Even your own ego can hinder your progress.

So what can you do when your motivation wanes? What do you do when it gets so bad that you consider quitting jiu jitsu entirely?

1) Seek external motivation


This could come in multiple forms. There are a ton of motivational quotes, posters, YouTube videos, books, etc. You name it, it’s out there. Whether you’re just having a bad day at training or its been a bad month, trying to find some inspiration and powering through the lull might be your best option.

I have lots of YouTube videos Favorited and inspirational posters bookmarked that I rely on after bad training days or particularly crushing competition losses. This usually helps reset my sights.

2) Mix up your training


If you feel like you’re stagnating a bit, perhaps you just need to change your training routine a bit. Does your gym offer judo or wrestling classes? If you train gi predominately, maybe try no-gi for a bit. Sometimes something as simple as working a different aspect of your game can rekindle your interest. It has the added benefit of helping your jiu jitsu game while you work through your slump.

3) Take some time off

If you’re dreading going to class, and none of the above tips are helping, maybe a bit of time off the mats is what you need.  When the thought of jiu jitsu makes you shudder instead of smile, perhaps taking a break is just what the doctor ordered.

Set a fixed period of time depending on how you’re feeling – 1 week, 2 weeks, maybe a month. Give yourself the permission to not think about jiu jitsu at all.  Just clear your head, centre yourself, then come back. Take a week or two to knock off the rust and re-evaluate – take a look at your situation with a fresh set of eyes.

Nobody likes to take time off, but sometimes it’s exactly what you need. If you want to train jiu jitsu for the rest of your life, a handful of weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things.


4) Quit


Hopefully this is your absolute last resort. I hate seeing people who once had a passion for jiu jitsu walk away from the art forever, but sometimes it’s a reality. Sometimes people get injured to the point that they can’t continue even though they want to. Sometimes people have so little time to devote to training that they would rather not do it at all. Yeah, It sucks, but sometimes it happens. Some people just aren’t cut out for jiu jitsu.

I’d love to say I’m one of those people (and I have been in the past) who is the eternal cheerleader. Who would never accept you even contemplating walking away from the mats…. But the reality is that sometimes walking away is your best option.

The funny thing about motivation is this: You need to find it within yourself. Other people can pick you up here and there and you may find inspiration from watching others compete or listening to them speak about the art, but, at the end of the day, either you want it, or you don’t. If you want it, you’ll find any and every reason to get on the mats and power through it, and if you don’t, you’ll find every reason to do the opposite. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t force it. If you just don’t enjoy jiu jitsu, then that’s a sign.

5) About your ego….


The great thing about jiu jitsu is that it naturally has a way of weeding out people with ego issues.

Let me just say this – if your ego can’t handle you being physically dominated by people half your size, half your age, twice your age, or of a different gender, then jiu jitsu is just not for you. There’s nothing more to be said about that. Just walk away, and (maybe) try jiu jitsu later in your life once you have the emotional maturity to handle it.

So, to your training partner who is thinking about quitting, I say this: don’t. Don’t quit. But don’t be miserable on the mats either. Your good (or bad) attitude about training impacts your training partners as much as it impacts you. Find your motivation and push through it.

words by: Adam Cousins.


first hand approach


Adam Cousins has been training jiu jitsu since August 2011. He currently trains at The Submission Academy, a Drysdale Jiu Jitsu affiliate in London, Ontario under Steven Poulin. Adam is an active competitor, always looking for a new challenge

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