Resilience: How it Relates to your Journey


Resilience is a mind skill we must nurture on our jiu-jitsu journey…

Last Wednesday morning was a really rough session for me and major source of bjj frustration.  I rolled with my instructor; it was a very very bad session for me (as it always is).  It seems he is beyond two steps ahead of me.

To be completely honest, it feels like he knows every thought and movement I am going to make even before I make them.  In addition, he has, what it seems like, an infinite amount of rebuttals for my weak attempts at offense.  Consequently, I am defending, to no avail, the entire time.

It is extremely taxing on my nervous system because I have to try to process so much at one time; many times I freeze when trying to evaluate all of the impending dangers as well as trying to mount some type of offense as well.  He is a master of jiu-jitsu after all.  My physical resilience is thoroughly tested.

Most of the time, my rolling experiences with the rest of my teammates are somewhat balanced.  Even if they beat me, and many times they do, the game is much more digestible.  I can evaluate my performance and make adjustments for the next time.

However, Wednesday morning was… different.  I rolled with one of our brown belts.  He killed me.  The manner in which he destructed me was very demoralizing.  He passed my guard at will with the SAME exact pass each time.  He moved on top of me with the SAME rhythm each time.  And, he submitted me with the SAME lock each and every time no less.

Needless to say, I was very frustrated with myself; I started to question whether my skill-set was comprehensive enough to be a world champion.  I allowed negativity into my mind.  It festered momentarily wavering my mental resilience.

Some inward reflection helped me realize that I have come very far this year in regards to bjj.  I began to consider how badly I did at the beginning of this year with everyone I rolled with (white belts included) after taking more than two years off.  I remembered that I had to take breaks between rounds some times this year because I didn’t posses the conditioning to keep going.  I remembered that I wasn’t even getting close to submitting anyone at the beginning of this year.  Yet, I saw light at the end of the tunnel and I remained resilient.

Work on your resilience!  Regardless of temporary set backs.

When we are frustrated with ourselves after what we perceive to be a bad couple of rounds, we must keep in mind:

  1. Everyone around you is constantly getting better with you.
  2. BJJ skill-set progression is NOT linear; everyone experiences periods of rapid growth as well as times of plateaus. 
  3. Everyone learns at a different pace, and, while some things click right away, you may have to be patient at times.
  4. Sometimes you just have a bad roll (perhaps due to extraneous forces).
  5. Sometimes your training partners just have a great roll (the starts align for all alike).

Remind yourself to be resilient and let these TRUTHS settle in your mind:

I have come so far.

There is a lot behind me.

I will continue to progress.

This type of thinking is not exclusive to bjj.  The mental process necessary to overcome bjj frustration.  This applies to your professional endeavors, relationships, and life in general.  We have all come far.  Take some time, right now, to consider all that has happened in the first 3 quarters of this year.  Consider all that you have accomplished: the projects you completed, new relationships you formed, all the things you said ‘Yes’ to and all the things that you had to say ‘No’ to as well.  Consider how you have grown despite been challenged.  Consider also, if you’d like, the heartbreak and disappointment that you survived (and perhaps still surviving) up until this point.

How unbelievable is that?  Look at how far we’ve come.

In the moments of doubt, anxiety, and fear we need to simply look behind us, even if it is a mountain of failure and disappointment.  Appreciate all the things that we have to look forward to and remain resilient.

Guess what?  We still have one more quarter this year to IMPROVE on everything we wish to.  Life is what you make of it.  Make it happen for yourself.

Here’s another great post on the same subject of bjj resilience: here.  And, I have also written coming back to jiu-jitsu after an injury, I think you might like that one too.

Follow me: @rubeneavila



  1. jiujiubjj says

    Thanks for the link love! I was reading this and thinking – hey that sound like what I wrote about! That frustration – such a common thing.

Tell me what YOU think: