How to Deal With Bad Days in BJJ

Table of Contents

Everyone has a bad day on the mat, you know the feeling, sometimes it is when you just lose every position, perhaps get submitted over and over and sometimes it can be due to an injury which can ultimately lead someone to feel like quitting BJJ.

The main thing to remember is that bad days on the mat happen to every single BJJ practitioner and you are no different than anyone, the main thing to remember is to make sure you do not let a bad BJJ day affect your overall progress in your BJJ journey.

Mentally Dealing With a Bad Day on The Mats

There is a saying that you are what you think and in BJJ this is absolutely the truth. Let’s take a scenario and try to look at it from 2 different points of view, let’s say you rolled 4 rounds, each round you were getting dominated to a point of frustration, no matter what technique you tried, you kept on getting put into bad positions and tapped out. You walk off the mats and your brain starts to run at a thousand RPM’s a minute thinking about what just happened and wondering how to deal with the fact you just got smashed on the mats.

Now there are 2 ways you can look at this, the first way is to ask yourself why the opponents you were rolling with are so good, why am I not getting good at BJJ, is it worth all the effort and pain, how can I avoid rolling with them, why do I suck so badly at BJJ etc……

The second way is to look at the scenario as an opportunity to better yourself, looking at the positions you were stuck in, the positions you got submitted in, looking for commonalities in the opponent’s attack and looking at what holes in your BJJ game the opponent has exposed and how to fix your BJJ mistakes in order to get better.

BJJ bad day on the mats
BJJ bad day on the mats

You see, we are all going to have very hard times in BJJ but if we have the outlook to always improve over always winning, you will find yourself sooner than later starting to really improve on the mats.

How to Deal With a BJJ Injury

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about contact and unfortunately injuries in BJJ do happen. Most of the time they are going to be light injuries that allow you to train around them and once in a while it may be a severe injury that will lead you to taking some time off the mat.

The main thing to remember when you are injured is that it happens to us all, sometimes it is a sign that you were going faster than your body can handle, it could of been because you made a technical mistake – the most common reason for being injured, and lastly it may be because of your training partner’s actions.

If the injury is due to your mistake then there is good news, you can fix it and take the lesson from the experience to become a better Jiujiteiro. Should your injury be related to a training partner then you need to examine the reason, was it because they made a mistake – perhaps falling on you or going accidentally to fast on a submission or is it due to the fact the person you are tringin with is simply a bully – which if this is the case, you BJJ instructor should of noticed and should of been responsible enough when observing the class to speak to your partner about calming down and rolling less aggressively.

In the extreme case that your instructor encourages aggressive behaviour that endangers your well being, you should look at finding another academy. Many BJJ instructors shun students leaving their BJJ academy and in some cases look at the person as a Creonte (traitor) but you must remember that ultimately you are the customer and they are providing a service and if they cannot provide the service you need (which also entails a safe environment to train in) then it is your choice to leave. Try finding a BJJ academy that has a safe training environment and a high level of professionalism in instruction.

A Sign Of Overtraining in BJJ

BJJ is addictive, it is fun and it is a great atmosphere to grow as an individual. Many times, people are so obsessed at getting better at jiu-jitsu that they often forget to rest and recover properly and in doing so, their body starts to break down. This can eventually lead to mental and emotional stress and thus lead to really bad days on the BJJ mats.

Some of the signs of overtraining in BJJ are that you have constant aches and pains, insomnia, decrease in performance, feeling exhausted all day long and lastly that you are starting to lose your enthusiasm towards BJJ.

The best way to deal with overtraining in BJJ is to take a few days off, rest, relax and eat clean, let your body tell you when it is best to come back, sometimes it may take a few days, sometimes it can take a few weeks but you will know.

Once you come back to BJJ just try to take things at a slightly slower pace and listen to your body, you are going to get better at BJJ either way you train, might as well do it in a healthy manner.

Dealing With Ego in BJJ

Everyone hates to lose as it simply makes us feel inferior to the winner and affects our ego. You are going to lose in BJJ, it’s the nature of the grappling art but you need to remember that the environment of a BJJ class lets you lose and still win.

There is a BJJ saying that either you win or you learn and that could not be anymore true than in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as when you get submitted, you are slowly learning to optimize your technique to not get submitted anymore, it may not happen the first time you get submitted but after 10 times, 100 times and sometimes even 1000 times that your brain and body finally associates that position, timing, pressure, grip that your opponent uses to submit you as a cue to counter that submission and position with the associated escape or reversal.

Every single BJJ superstar has had to deal with loss on the mats, BJJ stars like Marcleo Garcia, Renzo Gracie, Buchecha, Pedro Sauer, Rickson Gracie, Gordon Ryan, Gary Tonon and Roger Gracie have all had to deal with losing at one time or another in their career. So if they can deal with it so can you.

The key is to control your ego and not let your ego control you, simple as that.

Don’t Set Expectations

There is a lot of peer pressure in BJJ due to the fact that although BJJ is a martial art, it is also a sport. Today you can watch BJJ competitions for hours and hours on youtube as well as seeing BJJ in MMA being used effectively when fighters hit the ground, this can lead to wanting to be like the BJJ stars you see on the screen and thus placing a lot of pressure when trying to become the next IBJJF champion.

This can lead to developing a set of high expectations that when are not met, lead to emotional stress, anxiety and sometimes depression. This can easily carry over to the mats and affect your overall performance and growth as a BJJ practitioner.

A good way to deal with this is to simply not have expectations, just go to class, learn, try your best and have fun. You will see after a short while that you are going to get better in all aspects, your fitness, your technical ability, your emotional resp[onse to pressure and more. So drop the expectations in order to better deal with having a bad day at BJJ class.

Make a BJJ Gameplan

A great way to deal with defeat is to make a BJJ gameplan, this actually can really be aided by analyzing why you are having bad days in BJJ. Could it be that you are overweight, could it be that you do not understand a BJJ position properly, could it be that you need to improve your fitness, could it be that you need to improve your flexibility and many other factors.

It is only by analyzing your weaknesses that you can make a game plan, try talking to your instructor and creating a short term and long term game plan with some goals and then figure out how to achieve them as focusing on goals no matter how small they are, will help you better deal with those bad days at BJJ due to the fact that every small goal you achieve is a small win in the journey to your BJJ black belt. This way even when you lose, you win because you achieve what you wanted to achieve in that specific class.

Final Thoughts

Having a bad day at BJJ can really affect someone’s mood and can be a really bad emotional experience. The way to deal with this is by simply realizing you are in charge of how you develop and it is generally a switch in how you look at things that makes the difference between being defeated by a bad day at BJJ or defeating that bad day at BJJ and taking it as an opportunity to grow and improve.

Sleep it off, smile and just get on the mats again, it’s all going to work out and in hindsight, you will smile at the mistakes you made and understand that it was those particular mistakes that actually enabled you to perfect your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills and be a better Jiujiteiro.


More to explorer

Gadisov Duck Under
The Gadisov Duck Under

The Duck Under is one of the most important techniques in wrestling as it opens into many other different wrestling positions and

D'arce Choke
The D’arce Choke Explained

What is the D’arce Choke? Knowing how to submit is one of the facets of being a great grappler. There are many