How To Deal With A Training Slump in Jiu-Jitsu

Anyone who has trained jiu-jitsu or just about any other sport or martial art for year or longer will find themselves at some point on a plateau.  This can be seen by some as a “slump”, and often is called a “training slump” and is considered as one of the biggest threats to burgeoning practitioners of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  So, how do you cope with a training slump, and how do you move on from one?

For starters, there’s a rules to always remember: every moment spent training is a moment spent improving.  Even during a plateau or slump you’re still acquiring information and still developing coordination. You can go for many years without feeling any improvement but that information is still being stored whether or not you’re aware of it.  Here are 5 ways to accelerate your process and exit your training slump.

  1. Set minor goals and smash them.  These can be arbitrary like “hit 10 sweeps on the wrong side during drilling”.  It can be to go through an entire roll without closing your guard or using your grips or just about anything else like that.  If you set goals to win the next tournament or get to the next belt you may find yourself disappointed, but if you set marginally challenging goals and then gradually work your way up to the big ones you’ll find yourself out of your slump in no time.  
  2. Cross train.  Seriously, go to another gym, go to another martial art for that matter.  I recently found myself in a bit of a slump so I started working with some high level wrestlers trying to improve THAT aspect of my game.  I figure, I may not be able to feel success at this given moment in my training environment maybe a change of scenery, albeit temporary, will help.  I’ve found that working with other instructors or other training partners than I usually do will give me insights into my game. They may throw things at me that I’m not used to or I may throw things at them that they are not used to which will improve my self esteem.  If you train at a gym that doesn’t allow you to go to other gyms, that’s a problem but maybe explore within your network…

  3. Compete.  One of the best ways to exit a training slump is to put it on the line at a competition.  Either you’ll win which will open your mind to the fact that maybe you weren’t in a slump all along, or you’ll lose and the things that happen to you to make your loss happen will become your focus in training.  There’s really no downside to this unless you get hurt, and if you DO get hurt, well when you come back you’ll have all that ground to recover, which sucks but hey you won’t be in a slump anymore. Competition isn’t for everyone but it’s a fantastic tool to motivate you, especially if you are in a slump.

  4. Communicate.  If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau there’s a possibility that the person you’ve entrusted to guide you along your jiu-jitsu journey (your professor/instructor) might have some ideas for you.  Maybe they see something you don’t . Maybe they’re not aware of your struggle but now that they are they’ll take steps to guarantee your happiness. See here’s the thing: you’re paying for a service, and they want you to continue paying for that service.  If your plateau is bad enough you might quit. Regardless of your relationship with your coach they have a vested interest in you having a vested interest in jiu-jitsu, and that interest can be compromised by a plateau which doesn’t help anyone. Talk to them, see if they have any advice for you.
  5. Adopt a beginner.  One of the best ways to work on yourself in jiu-jitsu is to help someone else progress.  If you want motivation take someone who just recently started and has similar attributes to you and try to bring them up to speed.  You’ll find that in that process, you’ll not only create a good training partner but will expose your own inadequacies, which will allow you to then work on said inadequacies.  

Don’t let a training slump take you out of the game.  Jiu-jitsu is a long, winding journey. Enjoy it.