The honeymoon is over
It is almost always true that relationships are easier when they start. You are in an initial phase of discovery and romance and everything is exciting and new. I think that the relationship with jiu-jitsu is no different.
When I first started jiu-jitsu, it was love at first sight. I fell fast and hard. I was enamored with everything I was doing…pushing my body in ways I never thought possible, competing, seeing results on and off the mat. I couldn’t get enough. So much so that I joined a second gym and regularly trained 6-7 times a week. I often felt tired, weak, beat up and sore. I got a few injuries. I didn’t care, all I could think about was jiu-jitsu and it’s all I wanted to do.
As time went on the luster of new love started to wear off and I began to realize that jiu-jitsu was not the flawless end-all, be-all I thought it was. Sometimes it’s not fun to feel like you got hit by a truck, sometimes not being able to move a joint for a couple of weeks without significant pain sucks, and sometimes being crushed on the mat just isn’t fun.
As the rose-colored glasses started to come off, I began to panic. I didn’t know what to do on days when I was feeling exhausted and I didn’t feel like training. I had pushed myself so hard for so long that I didn’t know anything else but training. Whenever possible, I would arrange social outings with my friends around jiu-jitsu and my life was a constant pattern of work, jiu-jitsu, sleep, repeat.
This all came to a culmination this summer after training for two tournaments and pushing myself really hard. I decided to take a week off after so that I could recover, something I never voluntarily did before, and I found that afterwards I didn’t feel the same drive and compulsion to go back. I went into a pretty significant funk and couldn’t focus on anything training related. I had to make myself go to class after work, I wasn’t staying long after to roll, I couldn’t get back on track with my diet and cardio. A few weeks after that I sprained a ligament in my knee and I almost felt relieved to have an excuse to not go to jiu-jitsu.
The change in my attitude plus my time off forced me to take a good, hard look at my relationship with jiu-jitsu. While I still felt that I loved jiu-jitsu, I started to wonder if maybe I had jumped into a committed relationship too fast. Sure I still wanted to be with jiu-jitsu but maybe it was time to see other people too.
So after my injury, jiu-jitsu and I took a break and I got to see what life would be like without it. For a while it was pretty fun. I was going out with friends a few times a week, eating and drinking stuff I tend to stay away from while training, coming home before 9pm and watching a bunch of TV and movies that I don’t typically have time for.
However as time wore on, I started to miss jiu-jitsu. I missed the gym. I missed my coaches. I missed my teammates. I missed the challenges, both physical and mental, that I cannot find anywhere but on the mat. I missed the focus and discipline that came with training jiu-jitsu. I realized that I did not feel as complete without jiu-jitsu in my life.
So after going through a rocky patch, I finally feel that I am ready to come back to jiu-jitsu 100% committed. The bloom of new love has worn off and I realize that jiu-jitsu is not perfect. Sometimes it’s flawed. Sometimes I am flawed (very rarely of course). But I have discovered that I like the person I am with jiu-jitsu much better than the person I am without it.
Of course now and then I am going to want to hang out with my friends to blow off some steam when I am feeling angry with jiu-jitsu, but I am committed to always coming back. I feel really good about where I am in my relationship with jiu-jitsu right now. It’s easy to be committed when everything is new and wonderful but it’s a lot harder to make the same commitment when you realize the amount of work it takes to succeed. I know that jiu-jitsu and I are in it for the long haul and I think we will have a long, fulfilling life together.