Jiu-Jitsu Letter

How Long Will You Train?

I meet many new students, but I never ask them how long they plan to train. Part of it is, it could turn them off because it’s like asking for a commitment, and they just walked in. And walking in the first time is actually one of the hardest things about training jiu-jitsu, so it’s best to keep it casual and easygoing.

But you should think about how long you plan on training. Maybe you never thought about it. Maybe you have and think it’s forever. Or maybe it’s until you get a blue belt, or until you feel like you can defend yourself.

If you aren’t sure, then make the goal to train forever.

But life gets in the way. People get new jobs, get married, have kids, get injured, or any number of things. And other than injuries, they’re positive life changes.

Quitting would be a negative change, of course.

Let’s say you plan on training for 20 years, or until you die. In that case, make the self-defense aspect your priority. Make it so that’s your instinct or reflex in a fight. Do that because you know you have the next 18 years or longer to learn the other stuff. The fun, sportive side of jiu-jitsu, where you don’t worry about getting punched in the face.

Now let’s say you have no idea. You could burn out, or get hurt, or have bad vibes at your school. In that case, wouldn’t it make sense to learn the self-defense first? So that if you stop training, then at least what you’ll fall back on is practical jiu-jitsu?

Being able to defend yourself is the point of jiu-jitsu. The goal is to train forever, but most people don’t get to do that. So make self-defense your priority. (Note that jiu-jitsu is a perishable skill, so if you stop training, don’t expect to keep your skills forever.)

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