Jiu-Jitsu is far bigger than just a sport. To many, it’s a humble, yet powerful game of floor chess. Sometimes, especially in midlife, career crisis strikes, and many adults begin to question whether those bad days at work that turn into months of discontent, are really worth the paycheck. Although quitting your job to pursue a more dynamic and independent career can seem thrilling, especially in a world as dynamic as Jiu Jitsu, it’s important to think through big decisions and what they entail. Here are some tips that will help promote clear thinking and reasoned decision making, if you are interested in pursuing a career, or are considering becoming a full time athlete in BJJ:
You’re certainly not the first person on the planet to feel mid-career blues. If you continue in a position in which you’re not enjoying daily grind, a re-evaluation may be in order. If arriving at your BJJ class, makes you happy, at peace, and in a safe, and welcoming environment, well then that’s great! That’s how Jiu-Jitsu should make you feel. However, if you’re thinking of going all out and quitting your nine-to-five desk job, or dropping out of school to chase a dream, then you have to understand the full weight of that decision.
Firstly, there’s financial security to consider. Quitting your job may mean the end of a steady paycheck, and loss of employee health benefits. And, just because you’ve made the decision to quit your job, doesn’t mean a career in Jiu-Jitsu is right for you. It takes time to build up a solid reputation along with consistency. Nothing less than full dedication is required to become a full-time black belt instructor, for instance. Opening up a gym is another option, although that avenue will likely require obtaining permits, loans, and a bunch of other stuff you really just may not want to get yourself into. Don’t turn a hobby into a job unless you are sure you can handle it.
Many times, when a fun pastime gets turned into an everyday commitment, it can easily turn boring, and become a chore. And, the harsh reality is that most BJJ champions, or even highly acclaimed instructors, aren’t living the luxurious, glamorous lifestyle that some fighters put up on social media. Most of the successful individuals who have devoted their lives to BJJ do it because that is their passion, it’s what gets them up every morning with a positive attitude, and holds them together until the end of the day. Although money is certainly important, it is not their motivating principle. Many are simply happy to be living every day as if it’s their last, doing what they truly love. But achieving that kind of job satisfaction won’t happen overnight. It’s often not a magical transformation.
But who says the best things don’t come out of risk taking? At the end of the day, you do have only one life to live. If you feel you are up for the challenge and the risk, then go for it. There are other types of BJJ careers that you can pursue that don’t involve being an instructor or proprietor of a gym. Consider Gi design, journalism, blogging or photography. A full-time position in BJJ could be the piece that has been missing your whole life. Or, maybe not.. That’s why coming to a conclusion is so hard. There are no guarantees, and that goes for everything you take on.
If you do decide to choose the BJJ journey, then there will be times when you feel defeated, times when you feel hopeless, and encounter loss, and hurt. Relationships and emotions will be tested. Be prepared to struggle financially, at least during the the first couple months to a year. You may even experience potential burnout, even as things seem to be going your way. Be ready to have moments when you see disappointment, or an uninspired look on the faces of your students. Don’t be defeated even as you head back to the drawing board to devise a better lesson plan. In all, make your passion your career. If you believe BJJ is the way to go, and you’re aware of all the struggles that come with it, then by all means just dive in.