One of my favorite items on my never-ending list of “Things I Love About Jiu-Jitsu” is the incredible diversity you find on the mats.
You can meet everyone from world-class competitors to amputees to grandparents (and maybe even someone who’s all three) when you step into a BJJ academy. Everyone you meet is going to have a different story about why they’re there and what they hope to accomplish.
Some of the people you train with are going to have it easy when it comes to their ability to attend class and train. They’ll put on their gi in the mornings and evenings, possibly with an extra workout in between.
Of course, this is made possible through a series of convenient circumstances: maybe their parents are wealthy and generous, so they don’t need to have a job. Maybe they have a flexible work-from-home schedule and no kids to take up their spare time. Maybe they attend college right by the gym and have time to train in between classes.
Whatever someone else’s reasons may be for being able to constantly have the time and energy to train, those of us who don’t have those precious resources might be left feeling a bit down when we’re forced to accept that our lifestyles could never allow us to spend so much time rolling. It’s a bummer, especially when you want nothing more than to dedicate all your waking hours to learning and practicing new techniques. It becomes even more of a bummer when you’re forced to prioritize other things over training and see people who began long after you starting to surpass you.
If you’re one of the many people who can’t dedicate their entire lives to jiu-jitsu because you’re also juggling a million other responsibilities, you need to know that whatever amount of training you can do is just fine. If your chronic illness makes it impossible for you to feel good enough to train more than twice a month, then twice a month is enough. If your insane work schedule only allows you to make it to Friday open mat and then you can only find the energy for a few rolls, then a few rolls at Friday open mat is enough. As long as you’re giving what you can, whatever that may be, it’s enough.
There might be people who will shame you for your definition of “enough” because theirs is so different. Perhaps their concept of enough was developed after heading from a relatively stress-free job or school day and being able to grab a snack before training. Their idea of enough is going to be different from that of the person who pulls every string possible to be able to train at every class during the week to become a world champion. That person’s enough is a far cry from that of the single parent whose sole purpose of coming to jiu-jitsu class is to get a single hour to themselves. As long as you’re doing everything you can to reach your own personal goal while helping your partners reach theirs, your enough is enough.
We should all strive to give as much as we get out of jiu-jitsu, and if you’re giving it your all every time you hit the mat, you’re doing your part. It doesn’t matter if you’re forty years older than your training partner and can’t give her the high-energy, fast-paced roll that she needs to prepare for her next tournament – she will soon roll with someone else whose enough will benefit her in that respect. If you’re giving her everything you have to make her time on the mat worthwhile and she’s doing the same for you, you’re both fulfilling your roles as good jiu-jitsu students.
You should never feel bad for having to take it slow because of an injury or for not showing up as often as the other students because you have more important things to take care of. If you’re doing your best with what you have, you’ll know it. Guilt starts creeping up on us only when we feel like we could be giving more, but choose not to.
Sure, you might get a little down knowing that you can’t train as hard or as often as you’d like, but just about everyone who does BJJ gets that feeling to some extent. We all want to spend more time rolling, but you’re not a bad student or training partner if jiu-jitsu isn’t at the top of your list of priorities.
As much as we’d like to make jiu-jitsu our whole lives, sometimes the most we can manage is to allow it to make our lives whole. Neither you nor your training partners should make you feel like a slacker for putting your bills, your family, or your health before training. Your teammates should feel as lucky to have you on the mats as you feel to be there, no matter how often you’re able to come.
Your presence is enough. Your passion, your effort, your 100 percent is enough.
You are enough.