They say Jiu-Jitsu is a marathon not a sprint, and just like in long-distance running, sometimes we hit a wall. It can be physically during a roll, when you feel too exhausted to go on, or it can be psychologically during your training in general, when your path becomes tedious, and you want a break.
Some people might tap when they hit a wall during rolling, and when they hit a training wall, they may take time off, but when I hit one, I just try to keep going. I know that the walls have one thing in common: they’re mostly just in your head. You think you’re too tired to continue, or you feel like you’re becoming burned out, but you’re usually capable of much more than you’re aware. I’ve pushed through so many walls during my training that they don’t seem quite as daunting to me anymore, but it can still be incredibly difficult.
Since most walls are simply negative obstacles in your own mind, the best way to break through them is with positive thinking. When I experience an exhaustion or pain-induced wall while I’m grappling, I just utilize Conan’s advice to “go to your happy place”, which basically distracts my mind and allows my body to continue. I’ve found that if I can push through the initial urge to quit, I’ll often experience a second wind, and Professor Greg says that the exhausted state is when you’re really learning the most.
The power of positive thinking also works for general training walls. When I start to feel discouraged with my progress, or I’m having a hard time finding motivation to go to class, I think about how far I’ve come, and I remember all of the positives I gain from BJJ (which usually is my happy place!).
Training Jiu-Jitsu is as much mental as it is physical, and I’m not saying you should never take a break, but not everyone who takes time off ends up coming back, and it’s seems as though the longer you’re gone, the harder it is to return. I personally think “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” (© Neil Young ;), and as long as I can keep going, then I’m always moving forward.
“And when they’ve given you their all,
Some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy.” -Pink Floyd