Five Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get to Class

For some people, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a drug: they crave it when they cannot have it and crave it even more when they can. 

But if you are anything like me, you are not one of these people. 

True, you love jiu-jitsu, and you are not going to let anything stop you from becoming a black belt. 

You just cannot always muster the enthusiasm to get to class. 

Maybe you do not want to brave a thirty-minute drive through the snow. 

Maybe you just soldiered through nine mind-numbing hours of work, and the only things calling your name are pizza, beer, and TV. 

Maybe you are in my position and you not only have to kick yourself out of bed at 6:30am, but endure an hour-long train ride to your nearest gym.    

The maybes can go on for hours, but the simple fact of the matter is, you have to train.  And unless you are one of the lucky few who has the luxury of a full-size training facility and personal instructor in the comfort of your own home, “training” means “getting to the gym.”    

So, how can you get yourself to class when your conscience is screaming “yes” and everything else is screaming “no”?     

Here are five of my methods.  Feel free to steal and combine them as you please.    

Make friends with the people at your gym

If solitary practice is not giving you the necessary pep to make it to class, you may want to consider making friends with the students . . . or even with the instructor. 

Friends push you when you do not have any motivation.  They text you to make sure you are coming to class and heckle you for playing hookey.      

Friends also give you a greater sense of belonging at your school.  When you work out with people and go out with them after class, you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself. 

You may even begin to consider them a second family.    

Just make sure you do not get involved with a cult. 

Think about the consequences

“How are you going to perform in the next competition if you keep skipping class?” 

“What techniques are you going to miss today?” 

“Are you truly going to be able to defend yourself with only one day of jiu-jitsu per week?” 

These are the questions I ask myself when I think about skipping jiu-jitsu. 

Ask yourself similar questions and remember that missing class has consequences. 

Do not be afraid to scare yourself, either.  Fear is a potent motivator.  Use it to your advantage.    

Remember what motivated you 

I study jiu-jitsu because I want to be the old guy who can beat up most guys half my age.

72-year old, coral belt, Franco Penteado comes to mind when I think of this goal:

When you wake up, remind yourself of why you study jiu-jitsu and let that be your motivation for the day. 

Use visuals

Pictures and videos are powerful motivators.  We humans are visual creatures, and we are motivated far more by what we see than what we hear.   

If you have Internet access (and the fact that you are reading this article proves you either do or know someone who does), go on Youtube and watch a match featuring your favorite jiu-jitsu practioners. Post pictures of them on your bedroom walls to make sure you are inspired every morning to make it to the gym. 

Instead of relying on abstract concepts, visualize your goals in BJJ and keep them in mind before, during, and after class.    

Reward yourself   

Do not be afraid to use rewards as motivation. 

When you wake up in the morning and cannot muster the strength to get out of bed, tell yourself you will go out for a treat after class.  Maybe that treat will be pizza at your favorite restaurant or an evening of binge-watching your favorite TV series. 

Make sure rewards are used sparingly, though.  Treating yourself every week could not only undermine all of jiu-jitsu’s health benefits, but drain your wallet.     

Think of rewards as a desperate last resort only to be used when nothing else can motivate you. 


  1. I disagree with using rewards as a last resort. Use them as a first resort when you begin training so that it becomes habit and then fade their use as you attend class more often or use the rewards for your next goals, like entering comps or training for longer periods (2 hour classes). Don’t deny yourself pleasure, just make sure you earn it.

  2. Set little goals and work towards larger ones.
    Keep going untill you become world champion (or something like that).

    The video is a bit weird in my opinion.
    I see Santa Claus sitting on a kid that is unable to fight while they are beating him.
    When I think about martial arts I do not think about a crowd inflicting some Redneck Justice on a stupid punk.

    There is a fine line between defending yourself and handing out punishment to someone unable to fight back.


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