The low points in BJJ

Do you ever feel like you are getting nowhere with your training. You just kind of turn up on the mats, learn a technique (you almost instantly forget) and have a few rolls. It feels a bit like going through the motions, perhaps like a marriage that has gone on a long time and has lost a bit of it’s vigor. 

Well, I am yet to meet a Jiu Jitsu player that has trained for a long time that has not experienced this. I’ve noticed it’s normally late blue belts onwards and it perfectly normal. “Hi, my name is Aengus and I’m in a Jiu Jitsu rut”.

My BJJ is stuck in a rut ! 

So, how does this happen and what can we do about it ? Well, like most things you do for an extended period of time, there are going to be highs and low’s . My father is an artist back home in Ireland, and has been since he was in his late 20’s (he’s now 80+). I’m pretty sure he isn’t kicking the door of the studio in ever morning, but there will be days when he is more inspired than others, days when he really loves what he does. Jiu Jitsu is kind of the same.

For me, whenever I get in a bit of a funk I like to take a step back and observe what it is that may be making me feel the way I do about training. Normally it’s one of a few things :

  1. Inability to think while rolling (freezing, not letting the submissions & positions flow)
  2. Getting repeatedly smashed on the mats (good to learn from, but can be disheartening)
  3. The feeling of going backwards (zero progression & seeing others bound ahead)
  4. Boredom

Thinking of quitting BJJ ?

These are all pretty common themes I think amongst those who practice Brazilian jiu Jitsu. For many, these are reason enough to drop out. I can’t condemn or moan about those that do, after all, for most people it’s a hobby, and as my very first coach John Kavanagh used to say, if you are not enjoying yourself, why are you doing it (or something along those lines – wise man). So if people quit, that’s totally up to them. I would encourage people to embrace the grind of BJJ though, it certainly isn’t a quick fix.

I find that Jiu Jitsu’s slow nature has influenced other areas of my life. No longer do I think of things in the same way in terms of time. The quick fix option isn’t as appealing to me anymore as I realise that pretty much everything worth having/earning takes time, and lots of it. This might sound pretty obvious, but often people need to experience these things for themselves just to realise just how true they are.

Tips on refreshing your BJJ training

So if I was to hand out any words of wisdom, it would be to persevere and work through any doubts or disillusionment you have with your training. A few tips that you could explore are to :
    • Go train in a new club maybe once a week, or just visit a few clubs (not saying leave your old club here, just getting to roll with new people can be fun and make a change from the same old faces)
    • Get yourself a training partner. Someone around the same skill level, a person you like and admire their game. Having a good training partner will push your game on. You can learn what they are good at, share your knowledge and sharpen each others games. It’s also social, which helps.
    • Take Privates. While often quite expensive, privates are a great way to improve your game and refocus what it is you should be doing. You don’t necessarily need to take privates with your coach, you can pick anyone you admire. You can even pick the lower belts in your club if there is something specific they do that you would like to learn. Ask them to structure a few classes for you specifically tailored to you learning that skill. Drill it, then pick someone else. This way you are getting the best of those around you.
    • Watch rolling videos. Watching the latest upside down spin on your face kimura is all well and good, but you can easily become a collector of techniques but with a crappy game. My coach Liam Resnekov, advises to watch rolling instead, which I think it wise. Personally the guys I like to watch are Caio Terra and Saulo, but pick whoever works for you.
    • Buy some new gear. They say we get therapeutic relief from shopping, I know I do. So if you feel crappy, treat yourself to a new gi or some bjj gi patches or something, whatever you fancy and whatever does it for you.


    Whatever you do, hang on in there. There are bound to be highs and lows, dealing with the low’s is all part of it. Got to have a bit of the bad so we can enjoy the good times when they roll around :)




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