How Do You Balance Life and Jiu Jitsu?

By Joshua Rozenboom

“Jiu Jitsu IS life!” Well, that’s not really what the question is asking. It’s asking how you balance training, school, work, family, binging Netflix, and all of the things that make up our busy adult lives. Do you find yourself looking at the more accomplished members of your academy and wishing you had more time to train, had started sooner, maybe had one less kid to take care of?

We’ve all heard the saying “there are no shortcuts in Jiu Jitsu”. There are variables that accelerate progress for some people, sure, but when it comes down to it, there is no substitute for time on the mat. The only way to develop timing and technique is through repetition and application, drilling and rolling. Logically, people who train every day (or even twice a day) will progress faster. But what if you CAN’T train every day? What if you have school, or a full-time job, or your work hours keep changing? What if you have a new baby, or a house full of children, or both? It’s just not possible for every person to commit his or her entire lives to Jiu Jitsu, but all is certainly not lost. There are ways to fit Jiu Jitsu into an otherwise packed schedule.


It sounds insensitive, especially if you’re tired of hearing “who’s the new guy?” every time you come back to class, but it’s the best answer. Prioritizing Jiu Jitsu doesn’t mean choosing training over other important parts of your life. It means deciding where it fits on the list, and sticking to it. Find a way to make Jiu Jitsu a part of your routine as if it were going to the gym, going to bars, going out to lunch; see where it fits and make that the priority. It may require communication with your significant other, and planning around family schedules. If it means training at 6:00 in the morning every day, then make that your thing. If it means Tuesdays and Thursdays and open mat on Saturday or Sunday, then make that your thing. Your professor will appreciate consistency more than anything; training regularly, even a couple of days a week, shows just as much commitment as showing up every night.

Get Up Early!

Piggy-backing on “priorities”, it might be worthwhile to attend morning classes or lunchtime classes if your school offers them. Sure, getting up before the sun to train Jiu Jitsu is a daunting proposition, but is it worse than not training? Are you sleeping until the last minute every morning, but complaining that you don’t have enough time to train? Well, many schools offer early morning classes, and they could be your answer to getting on the mat every day. Many students who attend the morning classes would not be able to train otherwise. And, like anything, your body will adjust and you just might start looking forward to 5:30 AM every day.

Drill At Home

While it’s not technically training in a structured environment, there are tons of options for practicing at home. DVDs, websites, and books offer solo drills. You could even go as far as building a mat space in your garage or spare room, and invite friends and family over to train with you. This is not uncommon, and actually leads to a lot of discovery and experimentation. You and your friends choose what you work on day to day, and grow together.

Americans are notorious for the busy-ness of our lives. We take on a lot, we travel a lot, we work long hours and we keep our kids busy. Managing a full training schedule on top of all that seems impossible for some of us, but with a little planning and thinking outside of the traditional school schedule, it is entirely possible to get enough training time to progress and enjoy your Jiu Jitsu journey.

What are your best tips for balancing training with other priorities? Let us know in the comments!