Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art that requires constant practice. Many practitioners spend their whole lives learning how to execute BJJ techniques to participate in competitions. However, there are challenges fighters need to overcome to master this martial art.
In this article, you will learn about the various challenges faced by BJJ practitioners and how to overcome them.
Table of Contents
- 1. Challenges of BJJ
- 2. Challenges Faced By BJJ Practitioners
- 2.1. Distractions
- 2.2. Lack of Motivation
- 2.3. Physical Limitations
- 2.4. No Instructor
- 2.5. Ego
- 2.6. Lack of Confidence
- 2.7. Fear of Failure
- 2.8. Injuries
- 2.9. Never Compare Yourself
- 2.10. Unhygienic Conditions
- 2.11. Gear Shrinking Issues
- 2.12. Training Environment
- 2.13. Challenges Faced By Women Practitioners
- 2.14. Looking for BJJ Competitions
- 3. Dealing with BJJ Challenges
- 3.1. Consistency and Commitment
- 3.2. Look for A Reliable Mentor
- 3.3. Control Your Emotions
- 3.4. Set Your Goals
- 3.5. Cleanliness
- 3.6. Train at Your Pace
- 3.7. Finances
- 3.8. Find Training Partners
- 3.9. Safety Precautions
- 3.10. Build Mental Strength
- 4. FAQs
- 4.1. How Can You Wash Your Gi without it Shrinking?
- 4.2. How to Encounter Bulky Opponents in BJJ?
- 4.3. What are the Physical and Mental Benefits of BJJ?
- 5. Conclusion
1. Challenges of BJJ
BJJ is a combat sport that forces practitioners out of their comfort zones. During training, sparring, or real fights, BJJ forces fighters to face various challenges that contribute to their growth. Though it adorns its practitioners with different provocations, there are certain challenges faced by the practitioners. Some challenges affect fighters on an emotional level, while others are physical trials affected by external factors.
2. Challenges Faced By BJJ Practitioners
Following are listed some of the challenges faced by BJJ practitioners:
BJJ practitioners may have difficulty concentrating on training if their minds are occupied with school, work, or other priorities. Getting delusional about which martial art is best for the practitioners can also be a problem for them.
“Always assume that your opponent is going to be bigger, stronger and faster than you; so that you learn to rely on technique, timing and leverage rather than brute strength.”
( Grandmaster Helio Gracie )
2.2. Lack of Motivation
If practitioners are motivated and confident, they develop a stronger desire to learn BJJ, which can help improve their progress. When the practitioners are self-motivated and confident about themselves, their grasping ability magnifies. Whereas in the absence of motivation and confidence, their learning ability decreases and they lag behind fellow athletes.
Many beginners consider earning a blue belt a great achievement and set getting a purple belt their initial goal. However, after reaching the rank of purple belt, many practitioners begin to lose their motivation with which they entered the gentle art. One reason is that they suffer from injuries and some of them can be pretty hard to heal from.
2.3. Physical Limitations
Every BJJ practitioner has a different body type. Many fighters train hard to achieve a body better suited for pulling off grapples. However, age, bodily needs, and body type can affect how much your body is capable of since these factors can impose physical limitations.
2.4. No Instructor
A BJJ instructor is like a mentor for his students. Despite getting a complete knowledge of BJJ, he teaches his students the principles of the gentle art as well. Behind every practitioner is the teachings of his master. We have great examples in BJJ where students have brought their instructors to the limelight. For example, Rafaela Guedes, Kade and Tye Ruotolo are among the best Black Belt champions of Andre Galvao.
A responsible instructor will tell students all the do’s and don’ts of BJJ. They are responsible for teaching the principles, values, and rules of jiu-jitsu. Students make little progress without an instructor or if taught by a bad teacher.
“Leave Your Ego at the Door” is the slogan written on the doors of most BJJ gyms. While ego in healthy amounts is acceptable, it is not good to let your pride dictate your choices during training sessions. Many practitioners refuse to tap when caught in submissions, resulting in them suffering serious injuries due to their stubborness.
2.6. Lack of Confidence
At BJJ academies, you will find students at different belt levels, from white belts to black belts. Many novice practitioners feel they are far behind more experienced students of higher belt levels. Feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy can prevent them from improving.
2.7. Fear of Failure
Many BJJ practitioners take pride in winning matches. However, because they place such emphasis on winning, they view losing as unacceptable. Many fighters cannot handle even a single loss in their careers and leave BJJ entirely as they don’t want to get the label of even a lost fight.
Because BJJ involves close combat, there is always the risk of suffering injuries. Injuries sustained during practice or official matches can be self-inflicted or caused by your opponent. Some of the injuries are imposed on practitioners because of their own lack of taking the right precautions. Practitioners who suffer severe lifelong injuries may cause them to become too scared to continue training. Even practitioners who try to continue may develop a habit of tapping out early.
2.9. Never Compare Yourself
Many BJJ practitioners have an unhealthy habit of comparing themselves to others. Every practitioner trains and progresses at their own pace. Comparing yourself to others accomplishes nothing except hurting your self-confidence. Constantly focusing on what other fighters are capable of and what you currently can’t do only makes it harder to motivate yourself to learn.
2.10. Unhygienic Conditions
Because BJJ involves practitioners grappling and getting close to each other, it is important that the training mats are clean. Good hygiene practices at the gym will help prevent skin infections and rashes. Ringworm and cauliflower ears are the most common skin infectious diseases that practitioners face due to unhygienic conditions. An unhygienic and smelly gi won’t let other practitioners roll with you.
2.11. Gear Shrinking Issues
Buying a gi in the correct size can be expensive. Practitioners often have to worry about growing out of their gis or their gis shrinking when put through the wash. Unless a BJJ gi is properly maintained, you may have to continue paying out of pocket to get a replacement uniform. Often gis get shrink when washed in a high temperature washing machine or dried under direct sunlight. This is a reason why many practitioners transition to No-Gi BJJ.
2.12. Training Environment
The training environment at BJJ gyms can help encourage or discourage you. Having a friendly and professional environment is essential for a proper learning environment. If practitioners feel they are in a hostile environment, they feel hesitant to give their best effort. Bullying is one major drawback. Higher ranked belts don’t treat their juniors well and as a result, beginners don’t behave as they are capable of.
2.13. Challenges Faced By Women Practitioners
BJJ is open to both men and women; however, female fighters have had to deal with their own challenges. Many female practitioners have difficulty balancing practice with taking care of their families. It is often seen during rolling sessions where women and men roll together, men roll with the aim of not losing to a woman. This mentality is highly degrading. There also have sadly been incidents where female BJJ trainess have suffered sexual harassment.
2.14. Looking for BJJ Competitions
If you wish to compete in a BJJ championship, look for nearby and upcoming competitions by checking online websites. While you compete in different championships, you build a number of connections with people.
These connections later on help you in seeking potential tournaments. You don’t have to worry because connections are not made in just a day. It might take years to connect with the right people.
3. Dealing with BJJ Challenges
3.1. Consistency and Commitment
To be successful at BJJ, you must follow a consistent workout schedule. Once you have committed to master BJJ, you will find it easier to ignore fears and doubts.
Make sure to set attainable goals and make adjustments when striving towards or after attaining them. Expect to be met with failures every once in a while, but don’t be discouraged by them. Integrate other activities such as yoga, swimming and rock climbing in your workout routine and relax your mind. These activities will increase your strength and you can strength train yourself without remaining confined in the gym.
3.2. Look for A Reliable Mentor
Before enrolling at a BJJ academy or gym, make sure to research the instructors to evaluate their characters and qualifications. Keep in mind that enrolling at an academy with thousands of students may mean you will not get a lot of attention from the instructors. Depending on your preferences, you can ask for private lessons with an instructor or go to classes along with other trainees so that it doesn’t become a financial toll on you.
3.3. Control Your Emotions
At BJJ gyms, you are expected to act in a mature manner without letting your ego get in the way. Acting aggressive, spoiled, or indifferent may make it difficult for other practitioners and instructors to approach you. Having control of your emotions will ensure you can offer support and comfort for training partners if necessary.
3.4. Set Your Goals
Make sure you have clear and concrete goals before starting BJJ. If you just want to train, then focus on improving your physical and mental health. If you wish to pursue a professional BJJ career, you will need to focus on mastering techniques and progressing to higher belt levels.
Make sure to wash your gi after every session to wash off sweat, prevent fungal growth, and eliminate any bad odors. You can also use aromatic fabric softener to avoid ruining the quality of your BJJ gi and also so that it smells good.
3.6. Train at Your Pace
Never compare yourself to your fellow practitioners. Train at your own pace while learning the techniques you wish to focus on. Your confidence will eventually boost your performance and transform you into a world class fighter.
Having financial problems is another great hurdle which practitioners feel while training in BJJ. BJJ gear can be costly and enrolling at a BJJ academy can be way too expensive for a struggling practitioner. For this purpose you can compete in local tournaments to gather some money and then enroll in the academy of your choice to hone your skills.
3.8. Find Training Partners
If you need a training partner, try to befriend practitioners who aim to achieve similar goals as you. This will ensure you and your training partners motivate each other and help keep you on the right path.
3.9. Safety Precautions
Make sure to think about your safety whether training or sparring. Tap out if you feel that there is a risk you will get severely injured. Never put your health at risk even if you lose the fight. If possible, wear safety gear like a groin protector.
3.10. Build Mental Strength
To overcome fear, doubt, and the desire to give up, you must also develop mental fortitude. Through meditation, you will learn to relax your mind.
4.1. How Can You Wash Your Gi without it Shrinking?
You can wash your gi without it shrinking by putting it in a non-heated washing machine or washing your gi in cold water to avoid shrinking.
4.2. How to Encounter Bulky Opponents in BJJ?
BJJ focuses on developing your muscle strength. It gives you mental strength that helps you to decipher the moves of your opponent. You can apply your own techniques after learning your opponent’s form and handle him well.
4.3. What are the Physical and Mental Benefits of BJJ?
BJJ helps build up your muscles, increasing their mass and strength. BJJ exercises also encourage the release of endorphins that improve your mood and relieve feelings of stress and frustration.
BJJ is a combat sport with its own set of rules, regulations and challenges. You face different challenges when practicing any martial art. Lacking the motivation to train is the most obvious and common problem faced by practitioners. You must make short and attainable goals so that their competition gives a sense of accomplishment. Make connections that help you compete in potential championships. Mask your ego with social skills so that you practice in a friendly and professional environment. With a positive mindset, you can easily solve the problems and excel in BJJ.