When Jiu Jitsu and Adulting Collide

Anyone who starts jiu-jitsu in adulthood and has responsibilities in their life off of the mat knows that jiu-jitsu and adulting don’t mix very well.

We recently got this reader question from one of our loyal readers:

“I am a blue belt jiu jitsu practitioner and I have been training for 3 years now. When I first got started I was able to go twice a day every day, then it slowly changed to once a day every day, and now I can only make it 3 days at most including open Sunday rolls.  I’m in the car business.  As a salesman, typically the hours we work are long and really weird. Now we all love money and want more of it, but it takes away a lot from my jiu jitsu training and I can’t have that. I used to compete in tournaments regularly because I was able to train and travel to different cities to do so, now I really am not able to compete because I know I’m not ready or I don’t have enough training because of the work hours.  My question is, should I find a different job or career line where I’m able to make a living and that way I’m able to train daily?  Please advise me because I am in a lot of doubt right now and I can have everything taken from me except jiu jitsu.”

I will do my best to answer this challenging question.

For starters: always remember that the life of a professional grappler is not an easy one.  Even at the top of the game, most world champs don’t make a lot more than a good car salesman.  This is not a life for someone who wants to make a lot of money.  Also, depending on the age at which you started training, you may only have a limited number of years left in which you’d be able to compete at a high level before your body starts to give in.  Adulting isn’t easy.

The issue of jiu-jitsu and adulting getting in each others way is very common across the board.  Whether you have children, a significant other who doesn’t train, ailing parents, or a demanding job, as people cross the threshold from young adulthood into full blown adulthood hobbies have to take a back seat to family and income.  I’ve written a bit about this in the past in this article .

My advice to the reader is to decide very quickly if you want to be a professional grappler.  This can mean quitting your job and opening a gym.  This can mean finding a job that allows you the freedom to train and compete.  But ultimately if you want to retain your standard of living, this MUST mean finding a way to replace your existing income. You can also just drop your standard of living.

Are you “about that life”?  Do you want to devote yourself fully to jiu-jitsu, or will it always be a hobby about which you are passionate?  I get it, I have a full-time career working with my family’s company, and I have to devote myself to that during the day.  I try to do the whole adulting thing as well as I can.  But once my work day ends, I am a mat rat.  I train seven days a week, but sometimes I have to make sacrifices in my personal life to do that.  I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like to.

You can love jiu-jitsu and only train once a month.  You can hate jiu-jitsu in spite of training three times a day.  If you really want to find a job or career line where you’re able to make a living and still train full time, consider opening your own gym or getting a job at a gym.  Your standard of living will drop, but you’ll train more.  If you’re really good, you can supplement your income with your winnings at competitions.  Gordon Ryan does it. Must be easy, right?

If the reader is 20 and has no family and no mortgage, my advice is to chase your dreams, and if things get too uncomfortable, or if you find out you’re not as good as you thought, go back to work.  If you have responsibilities, dependents, and other adulty things, you may have to prioritize, and your priorities and your jiu-jitsu may not get along.

Those are just my two cents.  Any other readers want to take a stab at this?


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