One of the things I love most about jiu-jitsu is that there is nowhere to hide. In the very beginning, some will hide behind their athleticism but this is eventually exposed and usually sooner rather than later. In jiu-jitsu, you are who you are and you are capable of what you are capable of; no more, no less. Therefore, real jiu-jitsu progress cannot be faked.
As an instructor, I get to see people from all walks of life walk into the school. Each person’s progress varies fairly substantially. Some seem to get it faster than others but most people follow the same learning curve. At first, people are confused by the new language and concepts. Once that part is understood, everything else seems to fall into place. For a few people, however, the idea that they cannot physically see their progress is discouraging. People want their progress and they want it now. Patience is a virtue that goes a very long way in the art. In order to train for a very long time, patience is necessary. Patience will keep those discouraging moments fewer and further between.
Why You can’t see your Jiu-jitsu Progress
One of the biggest challenges with measuring your progress in jiu-jitsu is that jiu-jitsu is not objective. There are no ways to measure your progress and it is immensely challenging to get an accurate gauge of where you are. You cannot measure your progress by tapping others [other people might just be having a bad day]. You cannot measure your progress by how many techniques you learn [but can you effectively and efficiently apply them? if so, how do you measure their effectiveness or efficiency?] and you cannot measure your progress by the rank you hold [as Master Renzo said, “The belt only covers 3cm of your ass…]. Also, how do you measure your progress accurately when everyone else around you is making progress too? Indicators of learning or performance are simply indicators and are very poor for seeing where you are at in the grand scheme of things. This can be frustrating because if you are not actually and tangibly seeing your progress, why should you even continue? Humans always want the reward: we cant that dopamine rush that keeps us coming back for more.
Curbing your Frustration
For overachievers, it’s natural to get frustrated. I get frustrated myself. I have been at jiu-jitsu now for over 7 years and I have my bouts with frustration often. There are weeks where I feel like my jiu-jitsu is on top of the world and others where I feel like a blue belt again. Being at it for some time, I know that progress always seems to wax and wane but in reality, it’s always trending upwards. Thus is the learning curve.
Everyone is going to experience varying degrees of progress. Your progress, however is not what ultimately matters. What matters is that you are showing up consistently, doing good work with good people and always improving over the person you were before you set food in the doors of your school. Progress in jiu-jitsu is not about excelling steadily or learning new techniques. It is about learning how to be better every single day. It is about applying the concepts and values of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in daily living. Progress in jiu-jitsu will never be about how many people you can beat up or how many tools in your toolbox. It is simply just about showing up and striving to be better.
Progress in jiu-jitsu is slow, rarely steady and immeasurable. Focus instead on showing up and enjoying the ride as tumultuous as it gets.
As always, thank you for reading. If you like this post, please share on social media using the buttons on the side of this page. Also, send to a friend who may need to hear this.
I’m currently working on eBooks and other premium content for this site. Use the subscription form on the side in order to stay connected.
Yours in jiu-jitsu,