Avoid the Burnout, Stay Motivated
by: Daniel Frank
If you have done jiu jitsu for only one week, then you have learned that jiu jitsu is extremely fun but also extremely difficult at the same time. The same lesson is gleaned if you have trained for a month, a year, five years, or ten. Jiu jitsu is fun. Jiu jitsu is difficult. How can you keep the sport fun, make it easier to learn, and avoid getting burned out on it? That is a hard question to answer, but not impossible to answer. There are ways it can be done.
Make it Fun, Keep it Fun
Aside from being an important martial art, and an effective form of self defense, jiu jitsu is a fantastic sport that is practiced by all sorts of people in many different stages in life. Jiu jitsu is fun for all. In order to reach even more people, jiu jitsu needs to remain fun. When teaching jiu jitsu to young children a lot of drills and techniques are disguised as games. This is a method used to keep the youngest of students engaged and having a great time while also cementing the necessary skills into their arsenal to use as they get older. Jiu jitsu is a blast as a five-year-old. It can continue to be a blast all the way up to an eighty-five-year-old. The techniques no longer have to be disguised as games when training as an adult, but the enjoyment and entertainment are still present. Make the game something new while training. See if you can pass everyone’s guard today. You did? Good. Game won. See if you can help a new student with a submission. You did? Good. Another game won. The fun you derive from jiu jitsu reflects the energy and enthusiasm you put into it.
Make it Easier
As a white belt I remember watching techniques demonstrated and being blown away by their seemingly difficult nature. I tried to read, and re-read, every article and book on jiu jitsu techniques. The star sweep, the helicopter arm bar, the berimbolo, and the flying triangle all seemed to be techniques performed by super humans. I could read and watch those techniques performed, but doubted that I could achieve the skill with which I could perform them. I had an epiphany one day though, when I realized that these techniques were not as hard as they seemed. If I broke those techniques down into their basic components and viewed them as parts of a puzzle they became much, much easier. The berimbolo stopped being a mystical, acrobatic move that only the elite jiu jitsu players performed. It now became a simple De La Riva sweep where I briefly went inverted to get to my opponent’s back. By making the techniques easier, the tournaments easier – jiu jitsu becomes easier. The easier it is to learn, the more fun you have. The more fun you have, the less likely you are to get burned out on it.
Avoid the Burnout
Sometimes jiu jitsu burnout occurs when the practitioner is training way too much without giving themselves a proper break. It happens to the hobbyist and it happens to the active competitor. In these cases the practitioner needs to listen to their bodies and to their minds. Burn out can happen easily, but a little break can work wonders for your system. Many times burnout happens when the practitioner is overly concerned about their belt rank and gets disappointed that they are not being promoted as quickly as they feel they deserve to be. This does lead quickly to burnout or even to the practitioner quitting the sport altogether. It is hard to tell a student not to care about the color of their belt and the number of stripes on that belt (many claim to not care, but in reality care more than others). One thing you can do to avoid that type of burn out is to trust in your instructors. You trust these people to provide you with all of your jiu jitsu knowledge. Trust them to understand when to promote you and leave it in their hands. This simple practice can alleviate a ton of stress and prevent the dreaded burn out.
Jiu jitsu academies are full of people. Adults, children, white belts to black belts, instructors and students. Despite this massive influx of people, jiu jitsu is still a solitary sport. When it comes down to a match it is you, and only you, versus your opponent. It can be lonely at times. It can be frustrating. You can get burned out, especially if you take it way too seriously. Remember jiu jitsu is fun and enjoyable. Make it easy. Keep it fun. Smile. Enjoy. Stop worrying. You have this whole lifetime to practice it, why waste your time fretting over it?