A friend and fellow martial artist once told me that although he appreciates the art, he doesn’t like training jiu-jitsu because he’s not good at it. My first thought was “Hell, I’m not good at it, either, but that’s never stopped me!” My second thought was that I don’t think many people are good at it when they first start. Sure, there are a few naturals who pick it up very fast (and I hate them, I hate them all!), and there are people who have backgrounds in things like wrestling, which translate over to jiu-jitsu, but most people pretty much suck at first. If they’re like me, they also continue to suck for a long time after they begin training.
Perhaps the fact that my friend is an experienced martial artist made him think that it would be easier for him to learn. I believe there is some validity to that, as many years of training your body can be beneficial, and give you a strong foundation from which to grow. He already has a great understanding of body mechanics, balance, and other skills which some beginners have not yet fully grasped. However, having a black belt in other arts does not mean that jiu-jitsu will automatically come easily to you, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
I wonder how many other people have tried jiu-jitsu and enjoyed it, but quit because they didn’t think they were any good. There is a reason it takes so long to get a black belt in jiu-jitsu, people! It’s not something that the average person can master in a short amount of time. It usually takes years of dedicated training to achieve any sort of real proficiency. I would venture a guess that a lot of people who are now very skilled at it, were not that way when they first started. They figured out how to tame their ego, and put in the work to improve.
It’s easy to like something that you are good at, because every time you succeed you feel validated. That’s why I like playing video games with my husband. I usually dominate him, and then I feel like the Goddess of Gaming. However, the first few times we play a new game he always beats me. I’m not any good at first, and it takes me awhile to pick things up, while he is a fast learner who usually grasps things quickly, but then he plateaus and I surpasses him. If I had given up every time he easily beat me in the beginning, I would never have found out that I am, in fact, a superior gamer.
If you come into jiu-jitsu hoping that you will be good at it (and we all do) but find out that your skill is minimal, don’t give up. Just because you suck now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you always will (unless you are me…but I digress). If you really enjoy it and put in the work, you will get better. You might even find that you end up being really good at it, if you just give yourself a chance. Even I might actually be good at it someday, but I will still love it either way.