Ryron and Rener Gracie posted a video back in 2014 that is one of the most insightful and helpful I have ever seen in regards to BJJ. It’s almost 30 minutes long but I highly encourage you to watch it when you have the time. I am providing some of my notes below for consideration, but watch it intently and listen carefully as they detail ideas and concepts about BJJ that can have a profound impact on your experience with it.
They effectively break down 5 rules to follow if you want to train BJJ for the rest of your life. Like other sports, many people that start it eventually quit. I know that in my almost 6 years of training thus far I’ve seen more people quit training than I can even remember. Personally, if I said that I have never contemplated giving up BJJ I would be lying. It can be incredibly challenging mentally and physically. When I started BJJ I was 44 years old and in maybe the worst shape of my life. Believe me when I say that being totally physically dominated by younger, stronger opponents for hours at a time will test you in ways you didn’t know you could be tested. The benefits of weathering those storms so significantly outweigh those moments, however, that I can’t imagine giving up BJJ as long as my body allows me to do it.
This video was apparently the result of Ryron and Rener thinking about the reasons why people quit BJJ. I believe it will provide you with tremendous insights about how a proper mental attitude can reinforce your commitment to training by developing a realistic and practical approach to your thinking of BJJ. In it, they detail the “5 Rules to roll with” if you want to train Jiu-Jitsu for the rest of your life.
Rule #1. Know your “Boyd” Belts
John Boyd was a Gracie Jiu-jitsu black belt instructor. After getting frustrated during a roll w/ a younger training partner a subsequent conversation led to some contemplation on the subject it and determining that
A. Size matters
B. Weight matters
C. Strength matters
D. Age Matters
These were all things that factor into a person’s physical threat to you in an altercation. Based on these thoughts, a kind of “scale” was developed to provide perspective on how those four factors can potentially impact your training experiences.
Rule #2. Pass the Guard
As a coach, this rule really hits home for me. Basically, it involves coming to grips with the fact that people that start training later than you will eventually become your equal and then potentially exceed your skill level on the mats. I experience this consistently as many of the younger people I coached in their very first months of BJJ frequently challenge me when we train and even submit me on occasion. It is challenging to the ego but a reality of the sport and of life in general. Learning to let go of the notion that “losing to one of my students is not an option” is one of the more freeing things I’ve experienced in BJJ and has allowed me to focus almost exclusively on my goals and what I want to get out of BJJ for myself.
Rule #3. Acknowledge the Ego
The second rule dovetails perfectly into this one. Rener says it at 11:40 into the video: “The reason why you will fail, and you will quit at the inflection point (where you go from beating everybody to getting beat by the same people you used to beat)…is the ego”. What they say here is very powerful because they discuss allowing yourself to realize that this will happen before it happens. Because it WILL happen. Having the expectation that you will only get better and lose less and less frequently until you don’t lose anymore is completely unrealistic. Get solid in your mind that there will come a time things will change. When that time comes the transition will be expected and won’t create the negative mental response that causes so many to quit BJJ.
Rule #4. Respect the Roller Coaster
I love BJJ but it isn’t my life. My life, like most, is a busy one. Full-time job, wife, three kids etc. Things will happen that will keep you from training. I had a serious knee injury that kept me off the mats for 9 months (don’t tell my doctor, he thinks it was a year) but during that time I attended class as close to my regular schedule of 3x a week as I could to maintain a connection to it. It’s amazing what you can learn about BJJ by observing it for a period of time. People’s tendencies, what works, what doesn’t. In retrospect, I believe that observing all those classes really helped me as a coach because I was able to watch so many people train that I could confidently discuss “typical reactions” and finer points of the techniques I demonstrate.
Rule #5. Follow the leader
This is a conversation about their grandfather, the “leader” Helio Gracie. He trained BJJ until he was 95 years old and took great pride in the fact that he could defend against the attacks of much younger, stronger opponents. Survival always remained as his core focus when it came to BJJ. It is the mindset and the application of realistic expectations that matters when it comes to longevity of training.
I hope my thoughts on this tremendous video have been helpful. Throughout your journey, keep BJJ in perspective and be aware that simply being there to train is a win. My worst day on the mat is better than my best day on the couch. Go to class, sweat…who cares what happens after that?