Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Jiu Jitsu?! Burn Out and How to Deal with It

By Christal Montoya

Jiu Jitsu is such an amazing sport and teaches us so much. The lessons that we, as practitioners, learn are applicable to life on and off the mats. One of the best things about it is that it teaches us what we are capable of by pushing us to our limits on a regular basis. The pursuit of these limits often finds us pouring much of ourselves into Jiu Jitsu. As noble as an endeavor as this is, there is a downfall to placing so much time and energy into Jiu Jitsu that comes in the form of burn out.

There are several reasons that may lead you to feeling you’ve burned out on the sport, but just because you may feel you’ve reached your breaking point, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the road. You have to figure out what may lead to that point and figure out how to fix it. One reason someone might find themselves feeling burned out is over training when they’ve reached a plateau. The plateau in and of itself is a source of frustration because it turns into this endless feedback loop. The loop starts off with you not feeling like you’re improving despite training as much as you can and feeling as if you’ll get worse if you do take time off. Since Jiu Jitsu is one of those things in which success depends on what you’re putting into it, taking time off often leaves you riddled with guilt over feeling as if you’re not doing enough. On top of that social media constantly inundates us with the belief that if we’re not grinding we’re stagnating. Despite their motivational intentions they contribute to the loop and the sense of doubt one feels when trying to break through that plateau. So once you’ve started to feel like you’re trapped in a loop or burning out, what can do you do to fix this?

- Take a break! Yes, this is easier said than done but even if it just a day or two, you’ll be able to recharge and approach your training sessions with renewed energy.

- Try something new: Sometimes you just need a slight change of pace. A good option here, which still keeps you sharp as far as preventing your Jiu Jitsu from getting stale, is looking into open mats around your community. You’ll still be training but in a different environment and with different people. Even if it is only once a week, it will give you new puzzles to solve that might pull you out of the rut. Trying something new can also be an activity that is not Jiu Jitsu related. Living in Arizona provides us with tons of outdoor options such as hiking. You can also try yoga or going for a run to clear your mind. Your “something new” doesn’t have to be limited to physical activity either. Reading a book or catching up with friends is also helpful and may help you recharge.

- Have specific goals: If you’re unable to pull yourself away from Jiu Jitsu because that seems impossible and it is addicting, approach your training with a defined purpose and focus on quality over quantity. Look back at your past competitions or even the previous training sessions and pay attention to what your weaknesses are and where you’re having trouble. If you’re struggling with escaping from side control, drill escapes until it’s no longer an issue. Personally, I’ve found that having a specific goal has helped me when I’m feeling burned out and I’m not improving. If I can meet whatever goal I have set for myself, I get a little confidence boost that helps towards pulling me out of that rut.

No matter which option you choose to help you, when you’re feeling burned out, it’s important to remember that progress and getting good at Jiu Jitsu is a marathon and not a sprint. The road is long and will have bumps, but they aren’t permanent. You just have to find a way to keep going until you get out of that rough patch and remember that it’s okay to take a break. Jiu Jitsu and your academy will be there waiting for you! What tips do you have for avoiding burnout in Jiu Jitsu? Let us know in the comments!