Stuck In A Rut

Nothing is worst than being stuck in a rut.  I know, I have been stuck in one more than once.  I began questioning if I even liked training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu anymore.  What happened to my passion for the art?  Why was I starting to feel anxiety about going to class?

Beware of the downward spiral!

Beware of the downward spiral

 The downward spiral

I was in a downward spiral which is a depressive state where you get more and more depressed, but can not figure out why.  It took some soul searching to figure out why I had this crushing weight of depression hanging over me.  The thing is,  it is not all directly related to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.




Possible Contributing Causes


If you are like a good majority of Americans, you work a job that consumes the majority of your time every day.   Add in a daily commute through traffic where you are immersed in a constant stressful state of mind.  Studies have shown that commuting through heavy traffic is similar to the stress soldiers feel during combat and sometimes leads to psychological disorders up to ten years later.

There is nothing like the rat race to spike your stress level

There is nothing like the rat race to spike your stress level

If you commute in a major city you could be stuck sitting for extended periods of time which wreaks havoc on the body by inhibiting blood flow to the legs and placing stress on the lower back.  Office workers face similar problems when they get to work and end up sitting at a desk for hours on end.  Mix in the physical stress of the mental anguish that can sometimes occur due to office politics, projects and deadlines.


Commuting is only one stress point.  Career changes that impact financial status can also pile on a heap of stress onto your life.  Making less while paying out more in taxes and insurance every year while trying to compensate for the rising cost of living is difficult.

How you are going to pay the rent, mortgage or buy groceries trumps most other problems.

In recent years many workers have faced lay offs due to the economy.  It does not matter how well they performed their jobs, it is just a numbers game and employers must adjust to declining revenues by cutting employees.

Those who have lost jobs struggle to find employers who are hiring and the workers left behind worry about their own job security.  Add the responsibility of supporting a family during an economic downturn just adds an additional layer of stress.


The definition of overwhelm is to bury or drown beneath a huge mass; give too much of a thing to someone.  Pile on household chores, mowing the yard, fixing appliances, car repairs, doctor appointments, church and family commitments.

We have all been there

We have all been there

Everyone deals with this kind of stuff, it is life.  Physical training and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be used as a healthy escape from the stress of every day life but trying to balance your personal life while maintaining a consistent training schedule can be challenging.


It goes without saying, if you are not healthy your training is going to suffer.  Eating good, exercising and getting plenty of sleep are critical to success on the mat.  If any of those are out of whack your jiu jitsu is going to stagnate or regress.  This includes any injuries that are keeping you from performing at 100%.


Any kind of relationship issues easily follow you onto the mat.  It can take your head out of the game and consequently your skills on the mat suffer.  How well you get along with your coach and team mates can also effect your mental attitude on the mat.


BJJ is a mental game



This is a hard one for most to admit.  Fear can often dictate our actions.  When you are in that downward spiral fear creeps in and gets you questioning your abilities letting self doubt set in.


The Seven Ways To Get Out Of A Rut

  1. Rest – This is one of the best ways to unwind from the daily grind and give yourself a reboot.  Time off will allow you to heal any nagging injuries and lets your mind relax by taking a step back.  This might mean taking some serious time off to clear your head and find your center.

    Take a break

    Take a break

  2. Set small goals to get some wins – Nothing builds confidence like a win.  Even small wins help pull you out of a slump.  Make a small achievable goal such as pulling off a sweep you have been working on or escaping a position that you normally get stuck in.  Even small life style changes like giving up your favorite guilty pleasure or going to bed an hour earlier can make a difference in your mental health.

    Set small attainable goals

    Set small attainable goals

  3. Simplify – Side step overwhelm by simplifying your life and your procedures.                                                                                      “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”  ~Bruce Lee Get rid of the excess clutter in your life.  Develop some systems and processes that you can stick to that will help you automate your progress.  Example, you want to develop some strength but are limited on extra time to work out.  Add a simple workout twice a week using the most productive exercises such as basic compound movements like the Squat, Press and Pull ups.
  4. Confront fear – Fantasy Expectations Appearing Real (FEAR).  Reframe how you think about fear.  Yes, attempting an armbar from guard might mean your opponent will seize the moment to pass your guard.  So what?  What is the worst that can happen?  They pass your guard, mount and submit you?  It is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.  Leaving yourself vulnerable is sometimes the only way to truly grow in life and in BJJ.


    Let go of your pride and conquer fear

  5. Let Go Of Pride – Fear goes hand in hand with pride.  How does it feel to get tapped out by lower belts or some one with less experience than you?  It happens.  You can move on and thank that person for exposing a weakness in your game or you can allow it to get inside of your head causing more doubt and fear.
  6. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone – “Open up your game”!  How often does your coach shout that at you?  You are never going to progress in BJJ if you do not try moves that are uncomfortable for you.  Always playing it safe cripples your progress and is a major contributor to sucking you into a rut.  When you become stagnant you cease to grow.  If you are a top only player, force yourself to play guard only for a month and your skills will begin to take off.


    Get out of your comfort zone

  7. Keep Showing Up – Consistency is king.  Half the battle is just showing up to class.  Like the 12 step mantra of “keep coming back, it works if you work it.”  People come and go in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it takes grit to hang in there and progress though the ranks.  The bottom line, that can only happen if you show up to class and train hard.


 “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”  ~Bruce Lee