To Quit Jiu-jitsu Or Not?

Team Ironside / Flickr Creative Commons

Several years back, I was talking with a black belt who was forty years old or older. He owned an academy and had a number of advanced belt students.

However, he told me that he was planning on quitting Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

I was stunned. I figured that anyone who had loved jiu-jitsu so much that they earned a black belt would want to continue training BJJ forever.

The reason he was thinking about quitting, though, was because he had suffered an injury to the cervical spine years ago and it plagued him to the point where he felt it was both painful and dangerous to continue rolling.

“Why don’t you just concentrate on teaching?” I asked him.

The black belt replied he felt that in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, people were judged by how they performed on the mats. With his physical capacity diminished by the chronic neck pain, he felt he could no longer roll intensely and dominate the rolls with his senior students;therefore, he felt it was time to step away from jiu-jitsu.

I considered what a huge loss his absence would be to the academy and to his students. This man had trained for 20 years with the Gracie family and had accumulated vast experience that would be useless if all it did was gather dust in his brain.

I urged him to think of things in not so black and white a manner. Either you are rolling 100% or nothing? That is a limited way to look at one’s involvement in jiu-jitsu.

We all deal with injuries. It is a part of the deal in combat sports. For those dealing with permanent and chronic pain, it is a very real choice they might have to make.

I urged him to consider contributing to the students in sharing his valuable experience and altering the way he looked at his expression of jiu-jitsu.

Years later, I would be faced with the same issue: continue training in a limited capacity BUT stay involved in the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, or quietly put away my kimonos in the closet and walk away from jiu-jitsu entirely.

I am happy to say that after some reflection, the black belt decided that walking away from jiu-jitsu would leave a hole in his life. He realized he could make a valuable contribution to the academy and his students’ lives by changing his focus to teaching.

I understand his conflict, but staying involved with the art he loves and sharing his experience with his students is a huge satisfaction in its own right.

Have you ever considered quitting jiu-jitsu?

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