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The Pitfall of Jiu Jitsu

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

No truer words have been spoken.

Jiu Jitsu can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable pursuits of your entire life, but at some phase of this undertaking, you are bound to be susceptible to this most disheartening pitfall of an otherwise transformative (and I don’t use this term lightly) activity. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing your Jiu Jitsu journey to that of your training partners, let alone the competition you will face in a tournament.

You may give 100% of your effort every time you step on the mat and still seem to fall short. It’s a punch in the gut to repeatedly tap to the guy who must be an athletic god and it feels like a slap in the face to watch the girl who has been training for less time to get that promotion you’ve been training so hard and so long for. There are so many times I have driven home from a rough night on the mats, with tears streaming down my face, because of the simple fact that JIU JITSU IS HARD. It stings to feel like you are not excelling at something you work so damn hard for. You may even have moments of doubt as to whether it’s worth your efforts at all. I promise you, it is.

It is important to remember that we all learn differently, whether it is visually, verbally, physically or any combination of the three. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need from your instructor. He/she wants you to excel. In addition, each of us has different strengths and weaknesses that come into play with every roll and with every training partner. It is your job to be aware of those elements and your goal should be to focus on becoming 1% better than you were yesterday. This may be in the form of eating a healthy meal, working on flexibility, or perfecting that one minute detail of a technique you have been working on for weeks. There will always be flaws in your game and, while it is imperative to work on improving your shortcomings, it is equally important to focus on your strengths, as that will be the driving force that will power you through the tough times.

There will always be someone better, faster, stronger, or smarter, but if you take the time to focus on your improvement and enjoy the journey, however slow it may feel, you will be rewarded beyond measure. Jiu Jitsu takes tenacity, mental toughness, and courage, and these are all the characteristics that will make you that 1% better each day. So embrace the suck! It’s the journey, not the destination, that counts.

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