I’m really lucky because the thought of quitting Jiu-Jitsu has yet to cross my mind but that’s because I’m a scum whitebelt who has only been training for 9 months. However, I have noticed a lot of people quit during my short journey but also have plenty of training partners who quit years ago but came back! So why do people quit and why do they come back?
Training Jiu-Jitsu involves time, money, pain, sweat, tears, hard work, perseverance, and much more. At a certain point, even the toughest people have to face and overcome the adversity of: is Jiu-Jitsu worth it?
One of the videos that really inspired me to join BJJ is where Black Belt Ruben Alvarez calls out a fake black belt in 2015. In this video, professor Alvarez sternly exposes a fake black belt that walked into his gym. During the interaction there is a moment where professor Alvarez passionately states:
You’re not a black belt. You don’t deserve this belt. You know that I broke my leg for this belt. I fought MMA repping the flag of Jiu-Jitsu to wear this belt; to have the red bar.
Thought I’m sure this is a very short list of the obstacles that Ruben Alvarez prevailed against to get his black belt, it highlights one of the most common reasons why people quit Jiu-Jitsu.
I haven’t been training Jiu-Jitsu very long but I’ve had a few injuries. Luckily none of them involved surgery and I was able to get back to the mats in a few months. However, I can see why this can be a common reason why people may quit training BJJ.
If Jiu-Jitsu is your sole outlet for exercise or your injury makes you immobile, then you’re going to get out of shape. As a former fatty, I know the toughest thing about getting into shape is simply getting to the gym. You unwillingly create bad habits while you are out from injury because you are forced to sit around sometimes. If the injury recovery time is long enough, this habit can get harder and harder to break. You realize how nice it is to sit around and play video games, watch Netflix, and do laundry once a week.
Another reason why injuries can mess with your journey is because it is a reality check. Jiu-Jitsu gyms are a safe place to practice something lethal. Still, people get hurt occasionally like any physical activity but suddenly people are thinking about the medical bills and pain. Do I have to risk my body to pursue a hobby? No, you really don’t if you picked a different one. Some, come to this conclusion and they quit.
I won’t go long into this one because it’s straightforward. You have a life outside of the gym and training Jiu-Jitsu can be expensive.
Similar to money, you only have a limited amount of time that you can devote to anything. For most people, Jiu-Jitsu is not even close to being a top priority in their lives. It’s a fun hobby or exercise. A new family member or career path could easily mean that a practitioner has to make sacrifices.
You may also realize that to progress in Jiu-Jitsu you have to spend as much mat time as possible. This means time away from your social life outside of the gym. Finding a balance is really important but a social life doesn’t really have physical adversity, therefore it is a easier direction to drift to.
Whether it be the slow belt progression or skills, this can mess with people. I think the whole stripe system was created for the psychology of practitioners as well as skill indication. People spend years at some belts and I’m sure at a certain point you stop caring but this can get burdensome. This isn’t like my sister’s karate school where she got her black belt in 2 years and her second degree by her third year. This takes time and practice.
Skill development on the other hand is hard to gauge on a daily or weekly basis and eventually even yearly. The stripes indicate that you are getting better and your instructor sees it. The belt promotion also means that but we kept losing people in between so stripes came in or at least that’s my theory.
Both mental and physical toughness are difficult to develop. However, most people probably trained a little bit of mental toughness even if they never did anything physical. I believe you need enough mental toughness to persevere until you develop physical toughness in the gym.
At our gym, you get a 30 day free trial and most people quit before it ends. Most people quit before their third month. I think these people are usually mentally weak, which does not mean they are stupid.
For some reason, a lot of people (especially males) think they are physically tough. That gets checked fast at a BJJ gym. Facing reality can make people quit. They just cannot push past the soreness and overall reality that they are trying really hard, but they are getting destroyed. They’re not used to failing day after day and admitting you lost. Their perceived toughness and physical dominance gets crumbled which makes them panic followed by flight. I think these are the people who got too many participation trophies growing up. The only participation trophy in Jiu-Jitsu is cauliflower ear. People with enough mental toughness push through the suffering.
On the other hand, there are people who come in who are actually physically tough but not skilled in grappling. It’s ego crushing for a big strong guy to come in and get dominated by a much smaller person. People in America are afraid of big guys on such a psychological level that big dudes often think they are badass. Let me clarify, a big dude with no training vs. a little dude with no training; I’m betting money on big dude. However, big dude with no training vs. little BJJ purple belt dude; guess who I’m betting on?
The mental toughness of being humble enough to lose when all social indicators and life information said you should have won is not fun.
Why They Come Back After Quitting
Whatever the reason was when you quit, there will always be a bug in your head: the fact that you quit. If you quit because of reasons like finance, if it gets resolved, you’ll come back. Others, will miss it eventually or find some reason like fitness to come back. If you quit mentally, I don’t know how you’re going to improve that but the community will take you back with much love and chokes. Oss!