Even if you’re one of the people who is all about the hashtag-bjjlifestyle 99 percent of the time, it’s OK to admit that the other one percent of the time, you’d rather be pretty much anywhere than at the gym. We all get into moods that leave us a little unenthused about the prospect of putting on a gi and rolling around with our sweaty teammates, and most of the time, they pass as quickly as they come.
Occasionally, though, we might feel a bit of lasting boredom or even dread at the thought of going to class. Deep in our hearts, we still love jiu-jitsu just as much as we always have, but man, the last thing we want to do is go to class today. Or tomorrow. Or for the whole week. What is going on?
Most of the time, the cause for this odd phenomenon is simple: you’ve fallen into a jiu-jitsu rut. Don’t panic— it happens to just about all of us at some point, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve fallen out of love with BJJ. You’ve probably just gotten a little glassy-eyed over having the same routine for so long, even if it’s a routine you normally love.
Should you find yourself deep in a jiu-jitsu rut, the key to climbing out of it is identifying what’s dragging you down. If you’re itching to roll with some new faces (and arms and necks and legs), try visiting another gym for open mat or even a class. You’ll not only get the opportunity to train with people you don’t see every day, but you’ll also get to experience varied coaching and rolling techniques. It’s a win-win situation: the emotional part of your brain gets to enjoy something new and exciting, and the intellectual part gets to absorb new techniques that you might not have learned if you hadn’t ventured outside your own gym.
Perhaps the problem is simply a lack of a clear goal. This is especially common in people who don’t compete, particularly when they’re a long ways away from a new belt promotion. If you’re struggling with finding motivation and are even a little bit open to the idea of participating in a tournament, do it. Even signing up for a tiny local tournament will give you something to work for.
If competing is completely out of the question, set a personal goal for yourself. Focus on not getting submitted by that one upper belt who destroys everyone, or try to land one triangle choke every day for a week. They might seem like small achievements, but in the long run, they’ll keep you going while making you a better jiu-jitsu practitioner.
Maybe, though, you’re having the opposite problem and taking your jiu-jitsu too seriously. In that case, it might benefit you to sign up for a jiu-jitsu vacation camp. Not only will you get to train with some seriously talented athletes, but you’ll also get a fun reminder of why you fell in love with the sport in the first place. A BJJ camp is a great way to keep training while doing so in a low-pressure environment in which everyone is there because they want to be. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you feel after a week of intense training.
If all else fails, it might be worth taking a break from jiu-jitsu. You might just be burnt out and need to do something aside from training. If you’re going to stay away from the gym for a while, though, make sure you set a specific deadline for when you’re going back. We all learned in high school physics that an object at rest stays at rest, and the same is true for athletes. It’s easy to get used to not training, so make sure you set a day in the not-so-distant future to come back, and stick to it. A week is usually a good amount of time to rest if your brain really needs it, but if you feel that familiar urge to hit the mats after just two days, don’t fight it.
Finding yourself in a jiu-jitsu rut doesn’t make you a bad student or a “poser;” it just means you’re human and need a little variation in your life. Do what you need to do to hit the reset button in your mind, then get back to training with newfound enthusiasm. The little things you do to spice up your BJJ routine will pay off in the long run.