Failure to Progress

This morning I woke up thinking "Hey it has been awhile since I have written a blog post. Lets do that!" (Well to be honest, my first thought was "Cofffeeeeee." But after that it was all about writing.)

It is Thursday, which means it is a BJJ day for me. I took class yesterday so my neck is a bit sore (spider guard) but nothing is too banged up. I really like my new school and I am looking forward to going to class today. So its going to be a great training day! Right?

As I was weaving my hair into as many braids as possible in the hopes of it surviving rolling today, I had an idea for what I wanted to write about. In December it will be five years of BJJ for me. Yet sometimes I still am not sure why I am doing it. Despite hours and hours on the mats, I am still pretty bad at it. I still get tapped by white belts who are much bigger than me. I still forget every drill within a week of learning it. I am still not sure exactly what the point of all this is. Is it just fun? Am I hoping to get a black belt someday? Am I learning self defense? Do I just like having something to do every Wednesday and Thursday morning?

As I am formulating all of these thoughts into coherent sentences (slowly, because the coffee hasn't kicked in yet) something occurs to me. I have already written this blog post. I don't just mean that I occasionally feel this way about my training.  I mean I have already written this blog post. 

So I looked it up and yeah here it is: It was exactly a year ago, almost to the day.

Oh my god, I have gotten absolutely nowhere in a year! I am still a somewhat confused blue belt who often has no idea why she is putting on her gi! (I also clearly have nothing new to say.)

What a terribly depressing thought.

Do you know how many BJJ classes I have taken since November 11, 2014? Well on average I take about 2 classes per week, sometimes 3 if you count the ones at my own dojo. If there are 52 weeks in a year, that is over 150 classes of making absolutely no progress!

Okay, that's unfair. I am sure I have gotten better at some things. I am pretty good at guard passing. I have a decent kimura. But if my blog is any indication, I have not really moved past the wandering around the BJJ woods without a compass stage. I still don't take notes. I don't watch You Tube. I don't set specific goals before each roll. 

I love to go to class and I work hard while I am there but otherwise I am a lazy, lazy student. I am like the employee who never thinks about work, let alone does any, outside of the hours of 9am-5pm. Come to think of it, that is exactly the kind of employee I was when I had a 9 to 5 job. But I never really liked having a job.

Do I not really like jiu-jitsu?

If I loved it the way I say I do, wouldn't I be thinking about it all the time? Matthew is thinking about it all the time. (Well when he is not thinking about chess. Or Batman.) He is constantly watching videos of dudes heel hooking each other. The only BJJ videos I watch are the ones that play automatically on my Facebook feed while I am scrolling down to look for more posts about Starbucks cups. 

I have always known that I could progress much faster if I invested more time in the study of BJJ.  If not reading books and watching stuff, then at least writing down the things I learned after class and finding a way to review them later. Why don't I do this?

Man, I am a bad student.

With this newfound information, the obvious question would now be, should I just quit jiu-jitsu? But when I send that one over to my brain (which is now fully fueled with coffee) it says "Nooooo! I REALLY LIKE jiu-jitsu!"

Its weird. I really do.

So there it is. I don't want to take any BJJ work home with me. So I don't get much better at it. And then I get frustrated with how slowly I am progressing. And I wonder why I am bothering going to class. And then I go to class. And I love it. It is loads of fun and I leave feeling great. Rinse. Repeat. Write blog post about it. Again.

Jeez I need some more coffee!

Ok, I'm off to class. 
Because...well, I don't really know why.
But it seems I love it anyway.


  1. I can relate to this feeling. Not so much the feeling of not progressing, but not being the All In martial artists that many people around me seem to be. I love Hapkido, but I think it's fair to say my drive is...casual. I'm not 100% focused, its not the center of my life. Is that okay?

    I think so. I think as long is one is respectful and safe, we can define our own reasons for training. And it doesn't have to be intense. It can be Part of a Balanced Breakfast. We can still get benefit from it.

    I'm also okay with people quitting martial arts. The idea that martial arts must be an indefinite, life-looking commitment else one has committed a moral failing shabby seem right to me.

    Hapkido fills a hole in my life and I'm satisfied with the balance I've struck. I see myself continuing for many more years, but I am okay with maybe not. It would be sad, but not tragic or a weakness of character.

    1. This was a great comment, thanks! It is odd that sometimes people feel like "cause its fun" is not a good enough reason to be going to class. There have been times when I am all 100 percent into my training and other times when I am like meh. And you are right, there is nothing wrong with it being a part of your life, but not the only part, or even the biggest part.

      My husband and I run a karate school for a living and he is a brown belt in BJJ so I am surrounded by martial artists all the time. Because of that I think I sometimes forget that it is ok to be a casual student sometimes. :-)

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Love this one. It's refreshing how honest you are , especially when I find I encounter far more people happy to brag than get real. This made me laugh and I love that you don't fully know the answer yet but you want to keep exploring the question. Osu kyoshi!

    1. I don't really see the point of a blog that is a bunch of lies about how wonderful I am all the time. :-) I am only wonderful 98 percent of the time.

  3. Great post, Kyoshi — I really enjoyed it.
    It's all relative. Sometimes I imagine that I'm this dedicated, all-in martial artist, but when I see people like Kyoshi Abdul Aziz, or Shidoshi Ron Van Clief, and many others, I feel like a part-timer, and a fairly lazy martial artist. But my music, my family and my career are just as important to me as martial arts. Balance is key for me. And I AM a Libra.

  4. Best money ever spent sending wife to martial arts classes. Not only is she more confident walking alone somewhere, she knows that if anyone were to approach her against her will, she could make the moves necessary to break free and get help. Her confidence alone is enough to scare off any would be attacker before they choose her as a target.

    Matthew Lawrence @ Kung Fu Philly


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