Quick Fire Advice
A while ago, I sent out a survey to a massive group of jiu jitsu practitioners asking them this one simple question:
QUESTION: What's the biggest challenge that you face around mindset and training?
And man, did I get some responses. Today’s article will be an attempt to make my way through a few of them.
#1 “Consistency and discipline.”
This one requires a bit more context, but I’ve found that most of the difficulty in going to class is overcoming inertia to actually get out the door. I’ve found that packing my bag in advance has helped a lot. The other was getting in touch with my emotions and not letting anxiety get the best of me. I always tell myself that I can hypothesize about how class is going to go, or I can simply attend and reflect on actual experience.
#2 “Maintaining a consistent belief that I can and will learn how to do BJJ. Too often I fall into the trap of thinking there's something wrong with me, or I'm just not good at this, or I wasn't meant to do it. Even if in my head I know that if I put in the time and keep working to improve, I will, every time I experience a set back I feel like I don't belong. I wish I had some way of consistently short-circuiting and re-directing these thoughts.”
I once watched a documentary about the Chinese gaokao, the singular test that students take to enter a university in China. The preparation kicks into overdrive in the last four years of high school. In this documentary, one of the instructors says, “This is going to be hard…but all beginnings are hard.” I think of jiu jitsu a bit the same way. The start of something is always going to be the hardest part. Part of it is knowing and accepting that this is normal for everyone to experience. By understanding and having faith that these emotions are normal, you have a way to find belonging with your fellow beginners as you embark on a difficult (but hopefully worthwhile) journey.
#3 “For me the biggest challenge is appreciating the journey instead of worrying about the destination. I’ve been injured and off the ants for a long time. Originally (pre COVID) I was worried about everyone getting better and surpassing me in skill. But when you remember Jiu jitsu is for life, 6-9months off the mats feels like less of a big deal. And it’s not a competition. The journey is long and it’s for yourself. So that’s a mindset I’ve been trying to develop”
I really liked this response. Jiu jitsu is for life — but not just in length. I always hope that my jiu jitsu can be a way to serve my life. To help me see my shortcomings and where I can improve outside of the mats. I’m still working on focusing on the journey for myself as well. One thing I’ve found helpful is to really spend time reflecting on my journey on a regular basis and to focus on what I want to be as opposed to what I want to do. This allows me to focus on feeling states, which are more within my control, rather than external outcomes.
#4 “my biggest challenge when it comes to my training mindset is motivation, i love training but sometimes i cant make myself go because i just feel lazy i dont know why. i think its a lot to do about my time in a day like i am okay with spending 3 hours training but when i think about the half hour to get there and all the other minutes just thinking about time in that way demotivates me.”
I feel this pain, especially now as I transition to using public transportation to get to my gym, which is a simple 15 minute drive away or a 50+ minute bus/train ride. The best examples I’ve seen of dealing with a commute or a drive is to make that your special time to focus on something that you normally don’t have the chance to focus on. For me, I use that time to play Pokemon, or to read a book on my phone. There are sacrifices that need to be made for jiu jitsu, and I think that as long as I’m not neglecting my other duties, extra time spent commuting is a tradeoff that I can accept.
#5 “doing less of the fun stuff - rolling - and more of the necessary stuff - drilling”
Do what you find fun. Fun is necessary.
Thank you for reading and reflecting,
Founder of The Mental Arts