BJJ Struggles: Don't Worry Everybody has it Rough

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber


Over the next few weeks Digitsu will be rolling out some articles I wrote on a few specific BJJ reasons different people have a tough time. The overall realization is that everybody has difficulties, not just the subsets I wrote about in (hopefully) realistic and amusing ways. Everybody brings their own trials and tribulations to the mat area. I’ve included a couple of tasks in here that may help you reset when you’re feeling things tilt towards the difficult side.


What is good for one person means hardship for their training partner. Every exchange has a winner and a loser. When you’re feeling down on yourself or like you’re not making any progress, take a step back. Look at the people around you. Remember that they are trying their best, same as you. Sometimes that means they crush you, which also means you have an opportunity to get better. Sometimes it means you win the training. You will never know what’s going on in your training partners’ heads, no matter how happy or how difficult they seem to be to deal with.

Task #1: Humanize someone by having a few friendly words with real eye contact.

Remember that social media is a curated highlight reel, and things are usually not quite as good or bad as they may seem on there.


At the same time, you only have control over your own actions and reactions, physically or mentally. The ‘step-back’ approach helps me when I’m sinking into a whirlpool of self-pity or even an argument with a friend. We’ve become such a society of literally looking closely at things that simply surveying the rest of the room around you can be a bit of a mental reset.

Task #2: Look up right now from your screen and count to ten as you take in as many details around you as you can.

There’s a lot of beauty out there. Take the focus off of what is immediately in your face for a moment.


One thing we can all benefit from is more conscious breathing.

Task #3: Relax your eyes and take five breaths where you feel your belly expand as much as you can with every inhale. Bonus if you make your exhale take longer than your inhale.

Haha I just tricked you into meditating. Yes, it can be that simple, and it can also be immensely clarifying. Your training bonus is that sort of breathing trains your diaphragm, and if you practice it while training you’ll be calmer and get more oxygen in your system.

Task #4: Another trick. Smile in between each train, either at someone or at yourself. Again, it forces a break in whatever narrative you have going on and is an instant trick to your body to feel positive. Pianists are sometimes told to practice smiling in a mirror before they go on. My best friend used to talk about how faking positivity as a server actually made her feel more positive. So yeah, fake it til you feel it, or even if you don’t you’ll look friendlier.

So yeah, Jiu-Jitsu is hard. It’s a challenge. You have things in your life and with your body that make it harder for you than it is for anybody else. But so does everybody else. Find joy in getting better, accept when you’re not so sure you are, and keep trying so you inevitably will.