The Classes You Don’t Want To Attend Are The Ones You Need To Attend

Photo Source: Issys Calderon Photography

I love jiu-jitsu more than I love most things in life. I spend a good chunk of my time away from the gym thinking about it, reading about it, and, yes, writing about it. I’m not so much a hobbyist as I am an obsessed weirdo when it comes to this martial art, and that moment when I step onto the mat is usually the best part of my day . . . except when it isn’t.

As passionate as I am about training, there are many days in which I just do not want to be there. I might be dying for a nap, or every inch of my body might be hurting, or I might just be feeling particularly lazy. But for whatever reason, packing up my gi feels like I’m packing the outfit for my funeral.

It’s slightly comforting to know that I’m far from the only person who experiences this. Every week, I see my teammates strolling into the gym after skipping a day and answering questions about where they were yesterday with a shrug and an “I just wasn’t feeling it.” Even though I know it’s normal to not want to go to jiu-jitsu five days a week for the rest of your life, I still feel relieved when I learn that I’m not the only one out there who completely dreads going to class sometimes.

The funny thing is, though, that even if I pout and stumble my way through the classes I didn’t want to attend, I always feel better after I train than I do when I allow myself to play hooky. It feels rewarding to know that discipline overcame desire, that I didn’t quit even when I had the option to.

One of the best things about training jiu-jitsu is that you become responsible for your own success. You can’t rely on your teammates to pick up the slack for you if you miss practice or tire out in a competition because you haven’t been training as hard as you should. Your coach might get on your case about skipping if you’re a serious competitor, but for the most part, nobody is going to be up your butt pestering you to come to class every day. The mats don’t lie, and your performance on them is going to reveal if you’ve only been coming to class when you really, really want to.

When you allow your will to stay home to overpower your need to train, you’re essentially tapping to pressure. You’re giving up on a situation you could power through, even though there aren’t any real risks to not giving up. It’s one thing when you have to stay late at work, get over your flu, or take care of the kids – those are responsibilities that should absolutely take priority over training – but avoiding the gym “just because” is only going to reveal to yourself how much you still need to work on your self-discipline.

Just like when we learn to fight through pressure rather than tapping to it as white belts, it’s important to fight through the desire to slack off when we know we could push ourselves harder. Your mind and willpower aren’t going to be strengthened by giving in every time your bed starts to look more comfortable than the mats, but they will be strengthened by doing what you need to do even when you don’t want to do it. That fortitude is going to help you succeed in every aspect of life, but especially in jiu-jitsu. Whether you know it or not, you’re training yourself to keep fighting even in miserable situations instead of giving up just because you’re tired or uncomfortable.

If you’re going to come at me with your “But sometimes you need a week off,” or “Some of us can only train twice a week,” that’s fine, but you’re wasting your breath. Everyone has a different jiu-jitsu journey, and I’m obviously not going to be following behind you with a cattle prod to make sure you’re continuing on your path.

But you know when you’re training as you should be and when you’re slacking off. You are the one who has to deal with a guilty conscience when you know you should have shown up today, but chose to goof around on the internet instead. You can come up with a million excuses, but in the end, you’re the only one who’s going to care if they’re valid or not.

I’d be a filthy liar if I said I attended every jiu-jitsu class I didn’t want to go to. I’ve skipped more than a few times, and I regretted all of them. But now, I can recognize what I’m doing to myself not only by missing out on the technique of the day, but also by allowing myself to give in to my own mind. If you want to give in to the part of yourself that just wants to stay at home and play video games, that’s your call, but you’re going to be stronger both mentally and on the mats if you make yourself go anyway.


  1. Very nicely written! This is the reality. It’s cliche’ but we can all be our own worst enemy. I’ve yet to meet somebody who has defeated me more than myself.


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