Jiu-jitsu is a martial art, sport, fitness activity, and much more. It is common to hear people say that jiu-jitsu is for everyone, and often the person saying that is living the jiu-jitsu life and deriving great benefit from the art. It is indeed true that jiu-jitsu is for everyone.
Jiu-jitsu is not rigid and it is adaptable for any human. You don’t have to be smart, athletic, strong, fit, or even have all of your limbs intact. You can be blind and/or deaf. You can be 4 years old or 80. Even for people who have all the physical and mental advantages in the world, they will still find ways to evolve their jiu-jitsu and create their own approach to it.
If you want to practice jiu-jitsu, there is truly nothing stopping you. If you want to get in shape, jiu-jitsu will help. If you want to learn self-defense, jiu-jitsu will help. If you want to compete seriously or just play during open mats, jiu-jitsu can help you achieve your goals. Jiu-jitsu is a blending of exercise and camaraderie, theory and application, and more.
It sounds wonderful, and it is. I’ve met many people who build their life around jiu-jitsu, and they are happy and productive. I have also seen countless people try jiu-jitsu and quit.
The reality of jiu-jitsu is that while it is adaptable and can be practiced by anyone, it is not a magic pill that makes your life better. It is hard and constantly challenges you. Failure is a constant companion. Injuries inevitably happen. People you never thought you’d see quit jiu-jitsu leave and never come back. Jiu-jitsu can be demoralizing and it can make you want to quit. At some point, you might ask yourself if pizza and beer sounds like more fun than getting sweaty and barely crawling off the mats after getting your butt handed to you by most of the people in the room. It takes so long to get good, and then there is always someone out there that can make you look like you’ve barely spent any time on the mats.
It is very important to realize that it’s not jiu-jitsu that is the cause of attrition. Jiu-jitsu is supremely adaptable, but people may not be. It is hard, but never impossible.
You will be the one to decide if you are cut out for jiu-jitsu. Nobody else can make that decision for you. I encourage everyone to try jiu-jitsu and to stick with it because I believe it can benefit everyone. Although I never want to see anybody quit jiu-jitsu, I also understand that we all have different priorities. I don’t think jiu-jitsu should be more important than your family or your job, for instance. If you stick with it and you still aren’t enjoying it, it is absolutely possible that you are not cut out for jiu-jitsu – at least at this point in your life.
Understand that you don’t have to train like you are going to be a world champion. You can train a couple days a week and make progress. You don’t have to keep up with anybody or be under any kind of pressure to get that next stripe or belt. You can do jiu-jitsu just for fun and exercise. It is usually more rewarding to push yourself and get out of your comfort zone, but jiu-jitsu is flexible enough to work within whatever goals you have, even if you don’t have any. Despite any difficulties you may encounter in jiu-jitsu, the path you walk is still your own. You decide how much internal and external pressure you accept on your journey. Look for a balance that keeps you in jiu-jitsu and satisfies your other life needs.
If you have quit jiu-jitsu, or you are thinking about it, make sure you have the right reasons and be honest about it. Jiu-jitsu is hard and it takes a long time to get good. You do have the physical ability to go however far you want in jiu-jitsu. Do you have the mental fortitude to practice jiu-jitsu for the long term? If you want jiu-jitsu in your life, there’s always a way to make it happen. It may require giving up pizza and beer, or it may mean you have to learn to overcome seemingly insurmountable mental and emotional challenges. I believe it’s worth it. Jiu-jitsu won’t hold you back. You are the only one that can prevent you from enjoying the benefits of jiu-jitsu.
If after reading all this you still don’t think jiu-jitsu is for you, or that it doesn’t fit in with your life, all I can say is that overcoming the mental challenge of jiu-jitsu is rewarding in a way that is very hard to match. Please give jiu-jitsu a chance to enrich your life. Find a coach and team (or even just a buddy) that helps you fulfill your goals. It can be incredibly hard both physically and mentally, but though overcoming challenge we grow and thrive. Find a balance between jiu-jitsu and everyday life. If you stick with it, we will cheer you on. If you end up leaving jiu-jitsu, you are always welcome back with open arms. If you never come back, we are saddened by losing you, but we respect your decision.
Jiu-jitsu is for everyone, but not everyone is for jiu-jitsu.