I’ve been training jiu-jitsu for about four months now. There’s still so much to learn, and I almost always leave each class feeling more tired mentally than physically.
Recently, I went to my first official no-gi jiu-jitsu class. So far, I’ve been training only gi — the official jiu-jitsu uniform that, to most people, looks like pajamas.
I was prepared for no-gi to feel different, but I didn’t know just how different it would be. I didn’t know where to grab and felt more awkward and clumsy than ever. Almost instantly, I felt transported back to day one of jiu-jitsu, when I had no idea what a triangle submission was or what it meant to shrimp away or pass someone’s guard (or anything else, for that matter).
I’ve been a beginner enough times to know how the learning process works. I know that when starting anything new, feeling like a bumbling idiot is inevitable. I’ve encountered this same process again and again, from learning basic calisthenics in my early twenties to learning to run a business, create an app, handstand, box, kickbox, coach, and write books.
No matter the pursuit, the learning process follows the same trajectory: start out not knowing much of anything and slowly get better with diligent, focused practice. Stick with something long enough, and you will gain a certain level of mastery over it.
I have enough proof and experience at this point in my life to know that I’m capable of learning almost anything I put my mind to. And yet, even now, I have to fight that voice in my head that tells me it’s pointless to keep going. Each time I get on the mat, a small part of me still wants to give up. The difference between me from ten years ago and me today is that I now refuse to listen to that voice.
The more challenging our goal, the more humbling and awkward being a beginner will feel. But the sooner we start leaning into that feeling of struggle rather than fighting it — the more we’ll be setting ourselves up for future growth.