Don’t Let The Fear Of Sucking Hold You Back From Trying Jiu-Jitsu

As kids, we try everything we can get our sticky hands on, whether it’s sports, music, art, or games. It seems that the older we get, the more challenging it is to try something new. We want to improve our lives by starting an exercise routine or learning a new skill, but between family, work, and life in general, it’s hard to find the time and even harder to summon the courage to be bad at something knowing how long it will take to get good at it.

For many people, martial arts — specifically Brazilian jiu-jitsu — tick a lot of the boxes of things we want to achieve. It’s a physical activity that will get you in shape, a social activity that will help you make friends, and a mental activity that will teach you a practical skill. If you’re reading this, you may have friends or family members who never shut up about jiu-jitsu and how much they love it. Maybe you’ve considered signing up yourself, but something’s been holding you back. Is it really the cost or the time commitment, or is it the fear of starting something from scratch?

The time commitment required to progress in jiu-jitsu is a long one, with a blue belt coming after a bare minimum of one year of training and a black belt being earned in about a decade (often longer). When you first start, you will know pretty much nothing, no matter how many UFC events you’ve watched. Long after you start, you will still have days in which you feel like you know nothing. For many people, this is the biggest challenge of jiu-jitsu — the dedication it takes to come to class, be really bad at a new technique, and keep practicing it until you’re decent at it.

One of the best things about BJJ is that, generally speaking, everyone practices in the same room. While many schools do have separate fundamental or advanced classes, most also offer opportunities for brand-new white belts and experienced athletes alike to train together at the same time. And everyone you train with who you think is really, really good was where you are now at some point. There are many more people who could have been really, really good, but stopped training before they could give themselves the chance to excel.

Though everyone’s jiu-jitsu journey looks different, if you train consistently, you will get better. There will always be people who are better than you, even if you become a world champion one day, but you will also grow to be the teammate that new students look up to one day. Ten years seems like a long time (and it is a long time), but that time will pass no matter what. Wouldn’t you like to have a black belt by the end of it?

It takes courage to suck, especially in the middle of a room full of people who don’t suck. But if you never try to be better, you’ll still suck at jiu-jitsu — you’ll just also deny yourself the opportunity to be great at it.

Take your friend up on their offer to try a class. Just once. If you don’t like it, you’ll never have to come back again. You’ll be confused, and yes, you will suck. But if you enjoy the challenge, show up again. And again. And again. Before you know it, you’ll have years of training under your belt, and soon you’ll be the one begging your friends to come give it a try.


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