I’ll be candid. Today I just wasn’t really feeling like writing a blog post. Rain has been drizzling most of the day, and I just got back from a trip out of town late last night. Discipline is why there is a post to be read. Will power isn’t always enough when motivation is lacking.
Something Most Jiu Jitsu Players Don’t Talk About
Most nights I am excited to train and choosing to attend class is an easy decision. However, anyone that has trained Jiu Jitsu long enough has experienced an occasional feeling of dread. Sometimes finding the motivation to train takes effort.
When I was a novice on the mats I remember feeling like I had to mentally brace myself. I knew I wasn’t good and there would be a squishing waiting for me every night. After a long day at work, when I sit down to change out of my shoes sometimes a small voice reminds me how comfortable the chair is. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit and rest and watch that last Game of Thrones episode I recorded?
Newer grapplers seem to assume these thoughts mean that they don’t really love BJJ or have what it takes, because the experienced grapplers don’t talk about it much. We don’t talk about the times when we were newer that we drove all the way to the gym for class but just weren’t feeling it so we drove right by and skipped. I haven’t had many days like this in my journey but I have had a few.
What To Do About It?
Chael Sonnen gives a great speech talking about how just showing up is 80% of the battle. In talking about finding the motivation to train he says…
Every night, guys will find 100 reasons not to go to practice. You’ve got to find that one reason, why you want to be here. One reason to walk through those doors. Then, an hour later its all done, and you got a little bit better…”
What I’ve learned is on those nights, when there is some sort of strange since of dread, there is the largest opportunity for growth. When going to class seems a monumental chore of will power is when attending actually offers the most benefit. Standing up to that voice of complacency and fear is empowering. If I can take charge in this area, what about other areas?
Focusing will power to do hard things is exhausting though and it may fail. That is where discipline comes in. If I have a set schedule where I train every Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday I already know on those days I am doing Jiu Jitsu. There is no choice I have to make on Monday night, because I made that choice years ago already.
There isn’t a process where I have to think about it and hype myself up or worry about finding the motivation to train. The hardest step is always just getting started. Pick one easy to accomplish task that is goal adjacent and perform that task. Maybe I fold my gi up and pack my bag, and then grab a snack. I just start getting ready one small step at a time, and before I know it I’m in my car on the way.
Discipline Leads To Freedom On The Mats
A common thread amongst successful people in all areas of life is they say to start the day off by doing one thing you don’t want to do. In this way you take charge of your fears, and let your subconscious mind know that anxiety isn’t in charge. (If you haven’t read Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by BJJ Black Belt and Navy Seal Jocko Willing yet, you should! The audiobook version on Audible is an easy listen.)
The great part about Jiu Jitsu is if I can just get myself to the mats I know I will enjoy myself. Seeing my friends, leaving my problems behind while training, and getting in a good sweat always make me feel like a new person. I try to keep my training fun when I’m feeling a rut or especially stressed in life.
Honestly, the more I’ve trained the less trouble I have getting myself excited about a day of Jiu Jitsu. It takes an intensive multi-week 3 session per day training camp to break me down now.
Skipping a day of Jiu Jitsu to recover from injury or protect your body is an important judgment call to be made strategically. But just like in college, missing a day of class can quickly become two, or three or a whole week. Then there can be awkwardness when trying to return and quitting become easier and easier. Push through the wall, it is worth it! And when your body, says rest or you’re going to end up hurt, you’ll know you are listening to it because you are making the right decision and not because you are avoiding class.
Happy training everyone!