At the time of writing this, I have trained martial arts for 33 years. That is to say, I started in 1984 at the age of 5 and have trained regularly in one art or another since that time. It’s only an estimate; but in that time I have seen hundreds of people start their martial arts journey and quit before gaining real skill.

This begs the question, how do you stay motivated enough to continue the journey and earn a black belt or even master the art?

The tips presented below are just things I have noticed and begun to understand, especially since opening my own academy in 2010. I have been on the flipside of losing students. Whenever anyone quits or disappears, I make every effort to attempt to see why they quit and what, if anything, I could have done to keep them training. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned since that time.

1. Assess Your Goals- When you first enter BJJ training, your goals are probably pretty simple. Lose Weight, Build Confidence, and Relieve Stress are just a few. So if you never reassess those goals, you may reach them and assume you’re done…and maybe you are, that’s for you to decide. But it’s important to assess those goals so you can decide exactly what it is you’re trying to get out of BJJ. Things like Community and Friendship start to become very important later in the training, not to mention the desire to overcome personal challenges.

2. Manage Your Time- In a martial art that can take many years to become proficient, it’s very easy to let life get in the way and sidetrack you. Everything from having a baby to buying a house to even getting a new car can get in the way. Of course, these are all great things. But it’s important not to let every new thing that happens in life sidetrack you and make you lose sight of what YOU want to accomplish. So once you’ve assessed your goals and decided that Jiu-Jitsu mastery IS something you want. Make the time to do it. 2 to 4 hours per week is all it takes to get extremely skilled over time. Most people spend more time than that just sitting around doing nothing. Find the time.

3. Communicate With Your Instructors/Coaches- While it’s important to assess your goals and determine what you want out of your training, it’s impossible for your instructors to help you get there if you don’t tell them! Make sure to take the time to discuss your goals with your coach. They can help you stay motivated to meet them.

4. Purchase New Gear. I know this sounds strange, but getting new gear can be super motivating. You just want to wear it and show it off to everyone. It really helps sometimes.

5. Change Up Your Training Schedule- Any academy worth their salt will have a ton of training options. Try changing up your training. Sometimes changing up when you go to class will get you in touch with a whole different group of people. This can get you exposed to new techniques, new instructors, and a whole new vibe overall. That can be super motivating.

I’ve made an attempt to give tips that anyone can do. But there is one last tip I can give. Before you quit, talk to a friend in the academy. Let them know that you’re thinking of quitting and see what they say.

In the end, only you can decide if the journey is worth your time. But there is one last thing you should consider. While recently listening to Bill Joel in a Town Hall performance, he said something quite prolific, “I never liked writing music…But I loved having written it.” This says alot about what is required to meet your goals. Considering it comes from a man that has sold over 150 Million albums world wide and won multiple Grammy’s… it may be worth your consideration too!

See you on the mats!

Bill Jones is the head instructor and president of Top Level Martial Arts in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. He has been training martial arts since 1985 and holds several black belt ranks, including a Black Belt under Master Pedro Sauer. If you would like to learn more, contact bill at

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