Jiu Jitsu Frustrations, Staying Positive

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

You’re doing Jiu-Jitsu! The most empowering, fun, exciting, fitness-having, ego-smashing, be-like-a-kid-again-but-more-dangerous rootin tootin sport you could have ever chosen. Don’t you feel awesome every day knowing that you’re studying and getting better with every class?

Wait – you’re not?

This sport is as frustrating as it gets. You’re constantly being submitted, which is admitting you were wrong, which is not a thing high on most people’s list of favorite activities. While this can build an awful lot of character if you stick with it, sometimes it can feel a lot like you’re just losing all the time.

I’m here to tell you that you’re doing great. Here’s some things to think about to add a little shine to your rainbow:

Every time your opponent has to change plans, that’s a victory. If your training partners are doing anything but literally getting the first thing they try to do to you to submit you, you’re better than when you started. You’re making them change the game. They wanted a choke, 1.5 seconds later you submitted to an armbar. Congratulations, you defied their first choice. They had to change the game. You’re probably not in the mood to celebrate at that very moment, but think about it. You are no shrinking violet.

You’re in the game. No matter what, you are not just laying down and dying. Showing up, slapping hands, and entering the fray is standing up for yourself in a very powerful way. You have chosen to accept responsibility for your life and limbs and no matter how quick that fight may end (and start again) you literally went down fighting.

Giving up is very, very different than losing. I’ve experienced A LOT of both, both on my home mat and on international-level tournament stages. I must be satisfied with losing when I’ve fought til the end but someone got the best of me. Knowing that you gave up is a much harder pill to swallow entirely. It doesn’t matter if no one else can tell the difference from the outside, it’s something you know internally. This doesn’t mean you’re happy about losing even if you didn’t give up. Giving up eats your soul, losing inspires more training to get better. If you don’t understand the difference, feel free to ask me for more details.

Losing is great. Now you think I’m crazy. Think about this – if you were winning all the time, getting everything you wanted, you would probably be in the wrong sport or the wrong gym. You need people to beat you up to make you better. You want to be in a crowd that is challenging you, and challenging means taking knocks. This is awesome. You’re in the right place. What we think we want to be happy is almost never the answer.

You’re getting smarter just by being here. Pieced together from a sign in the Brainasium in Calgary, Alberta: “Risky play combines fun and stress – turbo-charging brain development. Risky play also develops your executive function, the parts of your brain in charge of decision-making. The only way to learn to make good decisions is by practicing making decisions. Bumps and scrapes are the vivid feedback you need to improve your judgement. Thankfully, you’ll get better and your brain will have developed from the experience.” This sign may not have been speaking about Jiu-Jitsu specifically but Jiu-Jitsu certainly fits the bill.

The next time you start to get frustrated, take a deep breath and reach deep for some gratitude. Celebrate in your partners’ victories and immediately proceed to vengefully get them back. That’s the beauty of the sport! There is no end, just changes in the game. You always, always have another chance.