You ever get tired of training? Feel like you aren't getting better? Not sure your...."Why"?
Blue belts blues is something that hits hard, and it hits at nearly every belt level. What is the blue belt blues? It's when you feel unmotivated to train anymore, you feel like your growth has stagnated. This is why most people quit training around blue belt. What's the psychology behind this?
Here's my thoughts, when you first start training everything is new and exciting. You come to class and have no idea how to escape the mount, and then BOOM, you are introduced to an elbow escape or trap and roll. We as humans absolutely love solving problems. Jiu Jitsu offers this on so many levels and is why it's so intriguing. But as time goes on, classes slowly begin to become repetitive. You find yourself going over the same techniques and you feel you already know them or you simply do not want to go over that topic. Or what you need to work on is not whats being taught in class, or the technique your instructor shows you just simply does not work for you yet. Maybe your friends who use to motivate you moved gyms, moved away or quit themselves. Around blue belt, students begin to experience this the most. When I talk to my students, I compare it to "grass growing". You know the grass is growing but you cannot see it. It's boring to watch. I've always been told only 50% of Jiu Jitsu can be taught. Now what does that mean? An instructor can show you 100% of Jiu Jitsu, but 50% of the learning process comes from you absorbing it, trying it, and failing with it. But we all know this.
So how do you combat Blue belt blues? I could go the route of "shut up and train" some goofy motto like "Only the weak quit!". Now, some of this stuff is true, it doesn't combat the actual issue at hand. I really like the "When motivation fails, discipline takes over". Sometimes you don't feel like taking a shower, but you do it anyways. But again, this doesn't solve the actual issue. So here is what I try to do, I approach this issue with a mentality side and physicality side. First lets start with the mental. Aside from the quotes at the top, I try to think about why I started. What kind of mindset did I have coming into training and what was my purpose at the time. Have things changed? For example, I use to compete all the time and this kept me training hard but as time went on my focus left competition and became more of a career path approach since I run a school and realized that eventually Ill be getting older and competition is just not going to pay my bills. I went through a strong moment of blue belt blues at the purple belt/brown belt level as I was trying to figure out my "why". What keeps my going the most is the therapeutic side of training. The emotional control Jiu Jitsu teaches me, the stress reliever and of course the workout. I also began thinking where I will be 3-5 years from now. This mindset is something I developed, not from Jiu Jitsu, but the business side of things and just in general achieving goals. Most younger people are thinking for the weekend, whereas successful people are thinking 3-10 years ahead.
Now on with the physicality portion. Jiu Jitsu has to be fun or we would never do it. When you start, the "fun" part is completing a new move or learning something different. As time goes on, these become dull. So we have to find new ways to have fun. My mindset was "winning" to now "developing". What I mean by that is, no longer am I looking at "major" victories like submitting someone, or sweeping someone, but letting someone take my back and seeing what can happen. How long can I stop someone from choking me and how close can I let them get. Instead of passing the open guard all the time, Ill just put myself in the close guard and play. Now you will lose way more often this way, but remember, my goal isnt to win its to develop. This is an investment mindset, adding this type of training at least once a week, if not more, will make me very dangerous in the next 3-5 years because Ill be very familiar with the defenses and areas that most people lack because people have a hard time leaving the mindset of "winning" to "developing". I went through a little period of even trying to arrest my training partners. Could I get both their hands behind their back. The goal is to find success in little areas, and care less. The "success" part is what gets the chemical pumping in the brain to fulfill enjoyment.
On top of all of this, I have a strange sense of motivation knowing some people cannot get themselves motivated to come to class. I feed off of this and you should too. Every day you go to class, you did something to improve yourself. You have one body, you do not get another one. Invest in it, become skillful, become educated, take care of it and enjoy life. Find your "why". Do you want to do this for a living one day, do you want to be prepared for self defense and gain confidence to improve all other areas of your life, do you want to be more physically fit, or how about emotionally stable. These are all bi-products to Jiu Jitsu, but it is up to you to discover your "why".
Last thing, take a deep hard look at yourself and your friends around you. I truly believe that you become who you spend your time with. If your friends do not train and aren't doing anything productive or aren't supportive, then you will have trouble achieving your goals through Jiu Jitsu. If you don't have those motivating people in your life, go on YouTube right now and type in "Motivational speeches". Listen to it on your ride to the gym and home. Use this to fill your brain with a new mindset so you can achieve ANY goal you ever put your mind to.
Watch this video. Become GOAL oriented to stay motivated. If you aren't staying goal oriented, you will quit.
Hey! My name is Stephen Miller and I am currently a Brown belt under Relson Gracie, training at Gracie Maryland (www.RealJiuJitsu.com)