“He is much smaller than me, how can he be so much better???”

 “Am I ever going to get my next belt?”

 “I’m useless! I should never step foot in this place again!”

 “There’s no way I’ll ever be able to do that!”


Any of these sound familiar? These are just a few of the many frustrating thoughts and feelings students experience on their journey to Black Belt. As a Black Belt, Ju-Jitsu can still frustrating – there is always someone who is better, and there is always more to learn. There is an endless supply of complicated moves that we are supposed to know and be able to execute under pressure. Where as feedback, on our “failures”, can often be quick and immediate.

When our desire to do well meets with undesired results – we are likely to get upset and feel frustrated.

When we experience an excessive amount of frustration – we are likely to give up. But some frustration is healthy, and even vital to our long-term development. 

Frustration is an Important and Inevitable Part of the Ju-Jitsu Journey. It is important to recognize that feelings of frustration motivate us to grow. If we experience too little frustration, we won’t be motivated to improve – then where would we be?  Frustration is a physiological necessity for us to reach the higher realms of our individual potential.

Frustration is a Sign of Growth. Frustration not only spurs growth, it is also the by-product of improvement.  Improving our skills requires us to try new things, be uncomfortable, fail, learn, expand and become more than we were before. Frustration and discomfort are signs that we are exploring new territories and acquiring new skill sets. Frustration is a sure sign that we are growing and increasing our abilities. 

Confronting Frustration Increases Confidence. Frustration is a motivating factor. It can motivate us to quit, or inspire us to improve. Giving in to frustration will leave us even more dissatisfied in the long run. That is because working through frustration increases our confidence, while giving up in the face of frustration lowers our self-esteem. Frustration provides us with an opportunity to gain the confidence that result from feeling deeply and not falling apart. Feeling frustrated, but staying on target for your goal, will let you get in touch with the feelings [deep down] that you can and will figure it out - and ultimately - succeed.

Remembering that frustration is necessary and beneficial can help change our perspective on frustration from an enemy to an ally. 

Recommit to Having Fun. Take the pressure off by reminding yourself that Ju-Jitsu is a fun activity. It is a form of play. It is much more than a contest of who won or lost – it is also a creative outlet, a way to get into great shape, a social activity, and much more – all of which can have a very positive impact on our lives. Take the pressure off. You don’t have to be the best – just having fun is a legitimate reason for doing something. 

Want It Bad Enough. You are responsible for your own inspiration. Having a strong desire to learn and grow will provide us with the fuel to deal with the inevitable frustration that is associated with learning any sport. 

Lower the Bar.  It sounds strange, but lowering the bar can replace frustration with satisfaction. Don’t beat yourself up for not training 6 days a week. Commend yourself for making it 2 days a week. If you have a family and a career – that is commendable. If you are home playing video games – less so.  Strive to be your best – but learn to accept your limits are real.  

Focus More on the Journey than The Destination. Focusing on the journey itself can be enough for the pressure and frustration to subside. Pushing ourselves and striving to be our best can be a good thing, but there is a point at which it can turn on us – and become overwhelming.

The Road is Hard Enough – adopt a Positive Mindset.  Applaud your progress. The road to Black Belt (and beyond) is hard enough.  If we continually beat ourselves up along the way it becomes impossible. We can easily become our own worst critic. We all make mistakes – there is no need to magnify them. Focus on what you did well and the areas in which you are improving. 

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. The natural tendency to compare our selves to others can quickly lead to frustration.  Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to where you used to be. Are you better than you were last month? Last year? Better than you were as a Yellow Belt? If the answer is yes, then keep going! You will soon realize that you really have come a long way. Time to celebrate, not mope.

Embrace frustration – learn to let it motivate you, and not handicap you. Openly face and accept that it will not be easy – and that is part of what makes it so worthwhile.


Keep training, you will not regret it!