Do you feel like you suck at BJJ? Do you think you’re rubbish, that your BJJ skills aren’t up to par? You’re not alone. I have felt like this many times, from white belt, all the way through to black belt. Even rolling tonight as a black belt, I felt terrible and guess what? many practitioners have experienced these same emotions at some point in their BJJ journey. But guess what? You can turn this negative mindset into success.

“It’s time to embrace the journey.”

In this article, I am going to help you transform your negative self-talk and turn it into motivation. I’ll provide tips on goal-setting, tracking progress, and consistency. I’ll also discuss the value of seeking feedback and learning from mistakes. And I’ll address common barriers that may be hindering your progress.

With these tools and a positive mindset, you can break through your personal barriers and excel in BJJ. So, let’s get started on your journey to success!

Acknowledge the Struggle

Whether you have been training a while or you are brand new, congratulations on starting your BJJ journey! It’s no secret that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a challenging sport, and you may find yourself struggling to improve at times. But let me remind you: struggling is a natural part of the journey.

It’s crucial to acknowledge where you currently stand in terms of your BJJ skills. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, concentrate on what you can do. Look at your progress so far and be proud of yourself for taking the first step. Every black belt was once a white belt who refused to give up.

Reframing Negative Self-Talk

We all have that voice in our head that tells us that we’re not good enough. Don’t let it take over! Rather than thinking, “I suck at BJJ,” try something like, “I’m currently working on improving my guard retention.” It’s all about redirecting the negative self-talk to focus on personal growth.

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”

Remember, you are not alone in feeling inadequate at times. Every BJJ practitioner, regardless of their level, struggles with something. Acknowledge the struggle, embrace it, and keep on going. You’ll get there.

Set Goals and Track Progress

Setting goals and tracking progress are key components of any successful journey. This holds true for BJJ as well. By setting specific and measurable goals, you can stay motivated and focused on your progress. It allows you to celebrate your achievements and keep track of areas where you need to improve.

Short-term goals are essential for keeping the momentum going, especially when you’re feeling stuck or demotivated. They can be as simple as perfecting a particular technique or training consistently for a set number of days. Long-term goals are equally important as they give you a clear direction and purpose in your BJJ journey. They may include earning a new belt or competing in a tournament.

Tracking progress can be done in many ways, such as keeping a training journal or using a tracking app. It is crucial to find a method that works for you and stick with it. Make sure to document both successes and failures, so you can identify patterns and adjust your goals accordingly.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

Remember, goal setting and progress tracking are not just about the end result. They are about the journey and the personal growth that occurs along the way. By setting goals and tracking progress, you can transform your mindset from “I suck at BJJ” to “I am making progress and improving every day.”

Consistency is Key

While it’s important to acknowledge the struggle and set goals, consistency is the glue that holds everything together. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t consistently show up to train, you won’t see progress.

Committing to a regular training schedule, even if it’s just a few times a week, is crucial for improvement. The more you train, the more opportunities you have to learn and refine your skills.

It’s also important to practice efficiently and effectively during each training session. Rather than mindlessly going through the motions, focus on specific techniques or areas you want to improve upon.

Maximising Your Training Time

One way to maximise your training time is to arrive early to class and warm up before the official start time. This allows you to jump right into drilling or sparring once class begins.

Another way to make the most of your training time is to take notes after class. Jot down the techniques you learned, areas for improvement, and any questions you have. This helps reinforce what you learned in class and gives you a reference to refer back to later.

It’s also important to avoid burnout by listening to your body. If you’re feeling fatigued or overworked, take a break or reduce the intensity of your training for a period of time. This will ultimately benefit your long-term progress in BJJ, especially when you are over 40.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Remember, consistency is not just about showing up to class. It’s about showing up with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to growth. Keep pushing yourself, even when it feels tough, and you will see the results you are after.

Seek Feedback and Learn from Mistakes

Seeking feedback and learning from mistakes is an essential part of improving in BJJ. Whether it’s from your instructor or a training partner, feedback can give you valuable insights into areas where you need to improve. You can also join our Facebook group and ask questions over there.

But it can be difficult to receive feedback, especially if you think you suck at BJJ. It’s important to approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Remember that feedback is not a personal attack, but rather an opportunity to grow and improve.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard

To get the most out of feedback, be specific in asking for it. Ask your partner or instructor to focus on a particular aspect of your technique or game plan. This will give you targeted feedback that you can work on.

Learning from mistakes is another crucial part of improving in BJJ. It’s natural to make mistakes, especially when you’re learning something new. The key is to use those mistakes as a learning opportunity. Instead of getting frustrated or discouraged, try to understand why you made the mistake and how you can avoid it in the future.

How to Learn from Mistakes:

1. Reflect on what happened: Take some time to think about what went wrong and why it happened. Was it a technical mistake, a tactical error, or a mental lapse?

2. Identify the cause: Once you know what happened, try to identify the underlying cause. Was it a lack of knowledge or preparation, a physical limitation, or a mental block?

3. Develop a plan: Once you’ve identified the cause, develop a plan to address it. This could involve additional training, working on specific techniques, or seeking guidance from your instructor or a more experienced training partner.

Remember, everyone makes mistakes. The key is to learn from them and use them as a stepping stone to success.

Overcoming Common Barriers

There are many obstacles that may make you doubt your ability to improve in BJJ. However, with the right mindset and approach, these barriers can be overcome. Here are some common obstacles and practical solutions to help you continue on your BJJ journey.

Time and Financial Constraints

One of the biggest challenges to consistent BJJ training is finding the time and financial resources to do so. However, there are ways to make it work. Consider prioritising your schedule and cutting out activities that are less important to make time for BJJ. You can also look for more affordable training options, such as group classes or open mats, or even offer to help clean the gym in exchange for reduced rates.


Injuries are an unfortunate part of any physical activity, and BJJ is no exception, especially as an older practitioner. However, don’t let injuries hold you back. Work with your coach to modify your training and focus on other areas that won’t aggravate your injury. Seek out professional medical help if necessary and be patient with the healing process.


Self-doubt can be a major barrier to progress in BJJ. Remember, everyone starts somewhere and struggles in the beginning. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on the small victories and progress you’ve made. Surround yourself with supportive training partners who are there to help you improve, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your coach.

Comparison to Others

It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your progress to others, but it’s important to remember that everyone has their own journey and progress at their own pace. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your personal growth and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Celebrate your own victories and achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

“Remember, everyone starts somewhere and struggles in the beginning.”

FAQ: How Can I Improve in BJJ When I Feel Like I Suck?

Feeling inadequate in BJJ is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. Here are answers to some common questions to help you improve your skills and enjoy your journey:

How can I improve my technique?

The key to improving technique is consistent practice and seeking feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructors and peers for constructive criticism. Focus on mastering the basics before moving on to more advanced techniques. And remember, progress takes time, so be patient with yourself.

How can I stay motivated and consistent?

Setting goals and tracking progress is crucial for staying motivated and consistent. Make a plan for achieving both short-term and long-term goals, and celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Additionally, find a training schedule that works for you and stick to it, but remember to take breaks when needed to avoid burnout.

How can I overcome self-doubt?

Remember, everyone starts somewhere. Acknowledge that struggling is a normal part of the journey, and focus on personal growth rather than comparing yourself to others. Use mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and improve. Surround yourself with a supportive training community, and don’t hesitate to seek help when needed.

How can I overcome financial or time constraints?

Consider alternative training options such as online classes, or find ways to supplement your training at home. Look for local BJJ events or seminars to attend, and prioritise BJJ in your schedule by setting aside dedicated training time. Remember, consistency is key and even small steps can lead to improvement.

By embracing the journey, setting goals, staying consistent, seeking feedback, and overcoming common barriers, you can transform your BJJ journey and turn “I suck at BJJ” into success.