Putting In Your Time – How Much Do We Really Need?

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I have read a lot of articles/forum posts related to people asking “What do I need to do to get better at Jiu-Jitsu?” or “Is there anything I can do to get better at Jiu-Jitsu, faster?”. And, most resoundingly, the simple answer was “More mat time”or “Just go to class”. So, is Jiu-Jitsu all about time spent? How much time is “enough” time to get better? How much time is “enough” to be a competitor? How much time is “enough” to be a world champion? We will get back to this later.

I wanted to take a look, quantitatively, at the different training time domains that may commonly exist in the Jiu-Jitsu community. By doing this, maybe we can shed some light on what I wondered about above.

Let’s take a look at an average person that does Jiu-Jitsu. As an average, we can venture to say that they go to class 3 times per week, they do 1 hour of drilling, and 30 minutes of live rolling. So, that is 4.5 hours of Jiu-Jitsu per week. Let’s say they go to class a total of 50 weeks per year (lose 2 weeks to vacation, or injury, or whatever). That puts them at 225 hours of Jiu-Jitsu for the year. One step further, say it takes an average person 10 years to get a black belt. So, that is 2,250 hours to attain a black belt for your average Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.

Now, I have heard a few stories about various world champions that train Jiu-Jitsu “all day”. So, I thought, what does that mean? How long is “all day”? So, I started putting some numbers to it. Say this person that trains “all day” trains 2 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the evening. They train 7 days a week, and maybe they take two weeks off per year. Doing this math, that puts them at 1,400 hours per year. And in 10 years, they will have 14,000 hours on the mats.

My numbers may be conservative, but this is over 6 times as many hours than your average Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. That is a pretty large gap.

If we roll back to the beginning of this article, and listen to what the resounding majority of people in the Jiu-Jitsu community say will improve your Jiu-Jitsu, it only makes sense that the “all-dayers” would become better at Jiu-Jitsu faster. The numbers don’t lie. It looks like what everyone says is true. It’s all about how much time you put in.

So, where do we want to fall? How much time is “enough”. If we want to be world champions, we have to put in the time. At this point in Jiu-Jitsu history, you honestly need to be an “all-dayer” to be a world champion. Do you just want to be a successful competitor? Then, it should be a concept that is in the forefront of your mind.  And you should allot your time accordingly to accomplish this. How much time? That all depends on how successful you want to be. It all depends on how much time you have to dedicate.

My friends, I am a realist. Is this realistic for most people? Can we all be “all-dayers”. No, we simply cannot. Maybe we do not even have enough time to put in the extra work needed to become a successful competitor. But whatever the case, we can strive to get better. We can stay focused on the days we do make it to class. We can all work hard for something. And that, inherently, should be at least enough for us all.

Maybe you won’t be world champion. Maybe you will never win one match at a competition. Maybe you will never compete. But who cares? You do not have to want to be a world champion to train and get better. You do not have to want to compete to be able to harvest the vast array of fantastic things that Jiu-Jitsu has to offer.

I saw a quote once, “If motivation fails you, rely on discipline”. This cannot be more true. There are going to be days when your motivation is at an all time low. You are too tired. You had a rough day. Your boss yelled at you. You are too sore. This, that, and the other thing. Rely on your discipline to push through this.

So my friends, I leave you with this. Squash that little guy in the back of your head that it telling you to skip class, and go home and watch TV tonight. This may be an everyday battle for you, but win the battles as they come. Go to that extra open mat on Saturday. If you get the day off of work, go to the morning class too.

Jiu-Jitsu does not have a set of rules that outlines how much time we need to spend doing it. And there is no time requirement on how it can positively impact your life. Go have fun. Meet people. Learn stuff. But, if we want to get better, we must put in the time. And those extra training sessions we make it to on the days that little guy is screaming in our head will add up over time. Maybe add up to a point where we feel we can compete. Or maybe you meet your new best friend on the day you really didn’t feel like going. Whatever the case may be, win the battles as they come, and we will get better together.



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