The Day After Perfect and Jiu Jitsu

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why people quit jiu jitsu. At the same time I’ve been reading Finish by author Jon Acuff. The book is about what it takes to finish your goals and what keeps us from finishing. The first chapter of the book shares a great concept that I think really pertains to jiu jitsu and why people end up quitting early on in their training.

Think about when you first started. You were probably super excited and couldn’t wait to go to Jiu-Jitsu class right? So what do you do? You all of the sudden throw your life schedule out the window and start going to every class that you can. You tell yourself that you’re going to train Jiu-Jitsu 7 days a week. You take morning classes and evening classes. You sign up for private lessons with your favorite instructor. You buy DVDs and books and start watching YouTube videos whenever you have a down moment. You make your life jiu jitsu 24/7 365 days a year. Sounds great right?

Eventually, though you will burn out. Real life catches up to you. Your friends that you’ve been canceling on every single week because you’ve been training start wondering what’s up? Are we still friends? If you have a family your kid ends up having a school obligation that means that you can’t train. Eventually, you look at your budget and you have to decide if I want to have groceries in the kitchen or that really sweet new Danaher DVD. Or your body eventually starts giving out because you are not giving yourself time to rest.

So you miss a class. You think to yourself that’s okay I’ll just go tomorrow. But then you don’t go tomorrow. You tell yourself you’ll go the next day it’s fine you can miss two days in a row. Well, guess what, you don’t go next day either. The next thing you know it’s been three months you have not trained once and now you feel like you can’t go back. (This is BS. You can always go back.) Sound familiar?  Maybe you’re thinking of somebody right now who did this and disappeared and you never saw them again.

This is a perfect example of what Jon Acuff calls the day after perfect. For many of us, we create this perfect idea of what we think it takes to be good at jiu-jitsu. Train 7 days a week, watch Jiu-Jitsu DVDs non-stop, spent hours on YouTube, etc. Once we can’t hold ourselves up to the perfect image we created, we end up quitting because we feel inadequate. Who decided though that this is what it takes to be perfect at jiu jitsu? Some random Instragram post? Someone who is not in the same situation that you are? Chances are this image of perfection is just something that you created in your own head or was told to you by someone else struggling with perfection. 

One way to combat this early burn out is avoiding the trap of overtraining. I am a big fan of choosing only a few days a week to train and having balance in your training and real life. Unless you are single, have no family, have no job, and any other obligations chances our life is going to get in the way of training. At my gym 10th Planet Van Nuys Coach Alder talks about having a schedule constantly. Having a schedule makes it possible to be flexible with life. I know that every Tuesday and Thursday I am planning to go to jiu-jitsu at 8pm. This means that I schedule the other aspects of my life so I can go on these days. I don’t plan activities on these days and if something should come up I find either another day to train or I make time on these days to do something to help myself grow in Jiu Jitsu. If I can’t make it that’s fine too. Jiu jitsu is not going anywhere. It will be there tomorrow.

If you are ever faced with this situation remember, there is always tomorrow. Don’t let perfection and this false image we have created with social media of what it takes to get good demoralize you from training. Jiu jitsu is a very personal journey and everyone’s journey will be different. Don’t let the day after perfect keep you from taking this journey.

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