I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 5 years ago this month. I still remember my first class; there were four of us on a Wednesday night. Another new guy and I both signed up for 6 months contracts. We were a couple of the New Year resolution sign ups that gyms bank on. I have never seen him again; I guess it wasn’t for him.
Over the past 5 years I’ve trained pretty consistently (barring injuries) and had a lot of ups and downs in my development. Stepping back I can see how much I have physically and mentally changed in that time. I’m mentally tougher and more disciplined. Plus this is the first time I have consistently exercised since I was in high school.
Given that BJJ has such a steep learning curve, it is really easy to get disheartened and think that you’ll never pick it up. I have always had that thought in the back of my mind. I’ll go for weeks at a time thinking “I hate this shit, I’m not getting anywhere. I’m going to quit.” My wife has heard more of these sob stories than she can bear to remember. Then one night, everything finally clicks. I move well, feel energised and enter the zone. When everything is firing, there is no greater feeling. I feel invincible and that I can do this forever.
The cycle of learning means that I am going to have good periods and bad periods. Taking a wide view of everything, the good periods are probably not that good and the bad periods are not that bad. But when I am in that moment, I am either a piece of shit or the king of the world. This is probably the greatest lesson I have learnt from BJJ, nothing bad is really that bad and nothing good is really that good. They are both experiences that I can learn from or ignore. This echoes in life as well, good things happen and bad things happen – be prepared for both and react accordingly. They will soon pass.
I guess the reason I am writing this right now, is that in this very moment, I have pretty much had enough of BJJ. I still love the sport and what it has given me but the motivation to train is probably at the lowest it has ever been. From there it’s a cycle that I have seen happen to many others: lose motivation, train less, skills drop off, lose motivation, train less etc. Skipping a day turns into skipping a week, which turns into taking a month off. Pretty soon it’s “remember that blue belt Daniel? I guess it wasn’t for him.”