If you have been at the same Jiu Jitsu academy for at least two years, you have likely seen many faces come and go. A solid academy is built around a core group of dedicated students and a larger group of new white belts who train for 6 to 12 months before disappearing after their contracts expire. Most gyms have a high turnover rate for new white belts who sample the sport for a few months and then never come back again. Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a long period time requires a passion for the sport that can withstand the injuries, ego crushing moments, setbacks, and frustrations. Here are the different categories of people who I have seen come in go from the dojo over the years.
The Rational Person: The person who after training for a few months comes to his/her senses and realizes this not what normal people do. Why would you pay money to get roughed up and choked? Why be sore the next day if you don’t have to be? If you work in a blue collar job, you can’t afford to get injured. If you work in a corporate environment, you will look like a ruffian if you come into work with a black eye.
The Fragile Types: Many potential NFL, NBA and MLB stars were sidetracked by injuries. There is always a risk for injury in BJJ and some practitioners are just more prone to it. Usually this person has given BJJ a go several times after back, knee, or arm injuries, but his/her body just can’t handle the grind.
The Germaphobes: Everything is cool, until people start sweating. The first time a foreign bead of sweat lands in the ear or a sweat soaked gi suffocates the face could also be the last time for someone. The germaphobe is not too different than the rational person. Why would you want to roll around on the ground with another dirty, sweaty human being in weird looking pajamas?
The Dabbling Hobbyist: One month the dabbling hobbyist is all in on League of Legends. The next month, its all about wine tastings. March just happened to be Brazilian Jiu Jitsu month. The dabbling hobbyist has short-term interests and passions before moving on to whatever the next cool trend. The dabbling hobbyist loves to try out new things, but never really makes one interest or hobby a lifestyle or long term endeavor.
All In, Burns Out: Ever see the new person that attends every class, 7-days a week? Within a month of training, this person has 7 Shoyoroll Gis, subscribes to MGinAction and The Mendes Brothers sites, and studies hours of matches. On the mat, the ‘All In, Burns Out’ is light years ahead of training partners who started at the same time. Then, all of sudden this person disappears. Did they go to another school with a high level coach? Did they get injured? Nope. Just too much, too soon and got burnt out.
Dumps Everything for Relationship: BJJ was just something to keep busy in between relationships. We all know the guy or girl who was all gung-ho about the BJJ lifestyle and then they swiped right on Tinder and disappeared. This person’s Facebook feed switches from selfies in a gi to selfies with bae from Tinder and the BJJ career is a wrap.
Too Much Ego: This person was usually the top of the class, natural athlete, picked up things quickly, and always ahead of the curve. Then it all changed on the BJJ mats. All the movements are foreign, everything feels unnatural and they suck as something for the first time in their life. This type of person no longer has all the answers and isn’t the smartest guy in the room and it crushes the ego. While the mainstays at an academy will grow from this realization the “too much ego” types can’t stand losing and not being good at something even if they are just a beginner.
Career First Guy/Gal: Everything was progressing fine until that big promotion at work or the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ job opportunity comes along. When your former training partner scored the big raise and promotion at work, it usually results in more hours, stress, and increased chances of getting fired for poor work performance. Thus the 40 hour work week becomes the 60 hour work week with heightened blood pressure and heart burn. While you are training, this person is slaving over spreadsheets and dreaming of choking out his/her ******* boss.
Not in BJJ Shape, But Won’t Work to Get in BJJ Shape:There is a vicious cycle of wanting to get in BJJ shape, but you can’t get into BJJ shape unless you do BJJ and put in the work. We see the out of shape guys and gals come in and they love the sport, but are gassed during warm ups. Everything is a struggle and there is a need for constant breaks to recover. Class is so much more difficult when you lack the cardio to get through class. You keep doing it to get in shape, but it is so hard to do because you are not in shape. Those who are unwilling to go through the initial pains of getting in shape, can’t hang for the long term.
I Can’t Afford BJJ, But Can Afford Going Clubbing: “I love BJJ, but classes are too expensive.” So is table service and going out on Saturday nights, but you manage to pull that off. For many, affording BJJ is hard, but not impossible. With proper budgeting and allocation of resources, it can be done. However, some would rather spend their money on other discretionary expenses like clubbing or Air Jordans. Then they would talk about how expensive classes are and how they don’t have money for it.