Jiu-jitsu is frustrating, man. It takes a — shall we say, unique? — type of person to willingly pay a significant chunk of money every month to show up and get beat up by other people who are paying for the same thing. The deeper you get into it, the more you compete, the worse you get beat up, the more tempting it can be to stop showing up.
There are plenty of reasons people quit jiu-jitsu, whether it’s for a lack of time or money, or they simply just aren’t getting the same enjoyment out of it that they used to. And let’s face it — as much as we like to proclaim that jiu-jitsu is for everyone, there are a lot of people out there who simply aren’t cut out for it. That’s fine. But if you have one foot out the door and find yourself dragging the other one, consider these options before you cancel your membership.
Take some time off. A lot of hardcore BJJ enthusiasts will tell you that this is a bad idea, but it can really help you figure out your true feelings for the sport. Even the hobbies you really enjoy can burn you out, and if you don’t have any major goals on the horizon, taking a week or two (or even a month or two) away from the gym can give you the break you’re looking for and also the space you need to figure out if jiu-jitsu is really your thing. Some people go a little crazy when they can’t train a few days in a row; others realize that they don’t really miss it at all. Yes, a “break” can easily turn into “full-on quitting” if you let it, but the point is that you don’t have to make a major decision right off the bat, especially if your academy charges you for breaking your contract.
Mix things up. Jiu-jitsu is, for many of us, the thing that breaks up the monotony of eat-sleep-work. But even training can become part of a rut if you’re doing the same thing day in, day out. Attend open mats at other academies. Set new goals for yourself. If your schedule permits, attend a morning class instead of an evening class, or vice versa. The boredom you feel with jiu-jitsu might not be an indication of your overall feelings toward the sport, but simply your current routine.
Work out a deal with your coach. Money is an issue that’s often hard to work around, especially if you’re not the only person who depends on your income. However, any decent coach will understand that money sometimes gets tight, and many will work with you to find a solution until you can afford to pay the full membership price again. Offer up your skills in exchange for membership — consider maintaining the academy’s blog or social media pages, providing photography services, helping with kids’ classes, or performing the timeless service of cleaning the gym. Not every academy owner or instructor can work out such a deal with their students, but if that’s the only reason you’re considering quitting, it’s worth asking — the worst they can say to you is “No.” If all else fails, you can attend the free open mats offered either at your gym or other nearby academies. One day of training per week isn’t much, but it’s a way to keep jiu-jitsu in your life until cash is more readily available.
Get checked for depression. Losing interest in jiu-jitsu alone isn’t a sure sign that you have clinical depression, but a lack of interest in the things that once gave you pleasure is a symptom of possible mental illness. Everyone struggles to find the motivation to get off the couch and head to training once in a while, but if you constantly dread going to class and have no interest in training once you’re there, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re experiencing other symptoms as well. Should your lack of interest be accompanied by fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, short attention span or memory loss, irritability, and especially suicidal thoughts, schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible to explore possible treatment options.
Consider your gym environment. Sometimes the problem isn’t jiu-jitsu, but the place you’re training. A bad coach or toxic academy culture can have a massive impact on your attitude towards training, and sometimes all it takes to completely change your feelings is to switch gyms. If you feel uncomfortable around or even scared of the people you train with, it’s time to look elsewhere. Even if your instructor and teammates are perfectly nice people, you might just not have “chemistry” with them. Visit a few other gyms around you if the option’s available, and ask yourself if you’d feel more comfortable training there instead. It’s important to train in a place where the people surrounding you are working towards the same goals and have the same mentality that you do.
These possible solutions don’t cover everyone’s reasons for wanting to quit, but they’re worth trying out if you’re not sure if you should stay or go. With all the amazing benefits jiu-jitsu can offer, it’s worth trying out every potential fix before throwing in the towel forever.