Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Stick With It

When someone visits a jiu-jitsu (or any martial arts) school, we have to compliment them on having the courage to walk through the doors. Going from zero to white is the most important step, since it’s the first step.

Most of the time, they don’t come in on a whim. They’ve usually thought about it a lot, searched for reasons not to try, and after driving by the local school four or five times, they finally go inside.

Yet, as hard as it is to start jiu-jitsu, it’s even harder to stick with it.

White belts make a lot of progress early. And then progress appears to stall. It’s the plateau.

There are so many resources for beginners, from books to videos to forum threads. But nearly all the content is about technique.1

There isn’t a lot of content for intermediate or advanced students. I don’t mean “advanced” techniques, because what the intermediate students need is not more instructional videos.

I understand why blue belts make up the largest population of “I used to do jiu-jitsu” people. They get tired of losing. They might claim injury, family, etc., but it’s losing.

If you’re a blue belt, make purple your goal. The long term goal is to earn your black belt (actually, it’s to train forever), but that can be hard to visualize. Instead, just aim for purple.2

The way to do that, is to learn to love jiu-jitsu more than you love winning.3

  1. This isn’t necessarily bad. Nassim Taleb wrote about the antilibrary, and how unread books are more valuable than read books. In addition to owning a lot of unread books, I have a large antilibrary of jiu-jitsu instructionals. But that’s me being a nerd about grappling and to become a better instructor, not to have “secret” techniques, since I teach everything I know anyway. ↩︎

  2. I don’t know a lot of purple belts that quit. Even if they never make it to black, they’re training, and that’s what matters. Rank isn’t important; Jiu-Jitsu is important. ↩︎

  3. The secret is that even if you just love winning, sticking with it long enough will get you to the point where you are winning most of the time. (And your definition of winning will change.) ↩︎

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