My journey through jiu jitsu has been a bumpy ride and a roller coaster of both successes and setbacks. There are days where I felt as if I’ve gone backwards instead of progressed. It is, without a doubt, one of the hardest paths I have chosen. But I have along the way learned a few valuable lessons, some more than once.

1. Show Up When You Don’t Feel Like It

There have been days when I just didn’t feel like training, anything and everything sounded better than putting on a gi and sweating. I was feeling lazy and tired, or just plain unmotivated, and I know that’s a feeling we all get from time to time. But we all have to remember that even a bad day on the mats is better than sitting at home. If you wait for motivation to strike, you’ll be waiting a long time. Force yourself to train, even if you don’t want to. It’s here in the moments you don’t feel motivated that champions are born.

2. It’s Okay to Say No

When I first started training I rolled with everyone no matter the size, aggression level, whatever, and as a 115 pound female it definitely didn’t make things easy on me. There are numerous injuries I could have avoided if I had just rolled a little smarter, or took it a little easier when that pesky knee injury flared up. I’ve come to learn that it’s okay to say no to rolling with someone. You’re in the gym to get better. It’s not the Mundials and there’s no world title on the line. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

3. Take Care of Your Injuries

Within my first six months of training I tore my rotator cuff, but I kept training on it for months before I stopped to let it heal. I ended up having to take 3/4 months off to let it fully heal as I kept making the injury worse. There’s this ‘tough guy’ mentality that your body should hurt or will always hurt from jiujitsu, but training while injured just lengthens how long the injury lasts or you could injure yourself more. Listen to your body, go see that sports doctor, and remember that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

4. Don’t Use Injuries as an Excuse

While you do need to let your body recover when you’re injured, I have also seen it used as an excuse to become lazy and gluttonous. Just because you’re not training doesn’t mean there isn’t other things you can do. If your shoulder is hurt, get on the stationary bike. One part of your body may be injured, but that doesn’t mean you should sit on the couch and watch Netflix. The other side of this is your diet. Jiujitsu really is a lifestyle, as I’ve seen it be the motivating factor in healthier choices, and when an injuries happens, and it’s going to happen, don’t fall back into your old habits. You’ll regret it later when you’re back on the mats several pounds heavier.

5. Showing Up isn’t Enough

While it’s true that showing up is at least better than sitting at home, just the act of showing up isn’t always enough. To truly progress on your journey, I’ve learned to make conscious decisions about my training. There is so much to learn and absorb that jiu jitsu can be overwhelming especially in the beginning. Come into class with a plan on what you want to focus on, whether that be maintaining distance, getting grips, a specific sweep, or position. By focusing in on what you want to accomplish that day in class you’ll come in more focused and ready to really learn; you’ll take more out of training by being present.

There are numerous lessons to learn form jiu jitsu, and everyone’s journey is different, but sometimes just thinking about your training just a little differently can spur that breakthrough you’re waiting on. Happy Rolling.


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