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Giving up is easy. It requires little effort and puts a stop to the frustration and pain that comes along with trying something new. It’s normal to want something to be easy, given the level of self-doubt and self-consciousness that often accompanies getting out of your comfort zone.

But let’s face it. Giving up feels terrible. Taking the easy way out feels, well, easy—and therefore can make us feel like we haven’t accomplished anything, like we’re a failure.

One of the reasons I suggest starting martial arts at a young age is for this very reason. If we teach our children the benefits of self-discipline and perseverance at a young age, we squash any desire for them to want to take the easy way out later in life. Without self-discipline, as we age we start to develop defense mechanisms that keep us from feeling things like frustration and self-doubt.

What causes this lack of motivation?

At Gracie Barra schools, we train our staff to identify risk factors in our students. Why might students feel unmotivated or disconnected in our school? In many cases, students fail to realize the level of self-discipline that is involved in learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which leads them to become frustrated with their perceived lack of progress.

The power of the mind:

At its core, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is about the mind. It’s about strategy, analysis of situations, outsmarting your opponent, and, most of all, self-discipline. The intensity of BJJ requires a ton of practice and even more moments of “failure.” After all, mistakes are often our best teachers. If you’re serious about learning BJJ, you need to learn humility and accept the fact that it takes time, practice, and patience to get good.

Discipline on and off the mat:

If you can overcome your desire to quit, BJJ can teach you the kind of self-discipline that helps you excel in every aspect of your life. All forms of martial arts have set rules that cannot be broken. If they are, there are varying consequences from being sent home to being banned from the school. Society, schools, industries, and employers also have set rules with a similar approach to consequences. Martial arts shows you how important it is for you—and those around you—to follow the rules. Here are a few more ways discipline from BJJ follows you home:

  • Preparation is key to success in martial arts. To be prepared, students are encouraged to be early to class and matches so that they can get into the right mindset and be ready for what’s to come. This kind of discipline is extremely helpful when it comes to school and work as well. The early bird gets the worm, right?
  • “Dress for the job you want.” In BJJ, students must be well groomed, not only to look more professional, but for the safety of others. Long nails and improper hygiene are a risk to other students and could cause serious injuries or infections. Taking the time to groom and look polished makes you appear more professional and approachable in all aspects of your life off the mat, too.
  • Respect and kindness are key aspects of many martial art disciplines. Bullying and disrespect is not tolerated on or off the mat. Martial arts, especially BJJ, is well known for creating lasting friendships and relationships due to the nature of the sport. As such, learning to show kindness and respect to superiors at work or competitors is a quality that goes far on the path to success.

There’s absolutely no shame in trying martial arts and deciding it’s not for you. The point here is that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it or an excuse for you to quit. Everything great in life takes work. Success takes failure, trial and error, and a lot of hitting rock bottom before you ever make it to the top. If you stick with it, BJJ and martial arts can show you what you can accomplish when you just stay disciplined and put your mind to something.