Why students quit Jiu Jitsu and how leaders can help prevent this.

So why do kids and adults quit Jiu Jitsu?

Learning is a messy, organic process. Everyone learns at a different pace. One common factor in learning anything however is that hard work is unavoidable. Here’s a graph everyone should become familiar with, including parents:

Niel Own MA Article

Whenever you begin learning a new subject such as maths, science, programming, a new language, or Jiu Jitsu, your enthusiasm level soars. Basic concepts are simple and easy to grasp, everything is fresh and new = this is fun!

Then comes the trough where simple things, just aren’t so simple anymore. Concepts become more complex and harder to understand, everything is old hat = this is not fun anymore.

With work and perseverance, you eventually master the more advanced material and pass the inflection point, and gain confidence. Advanced concepts become easy, you get to apply the knowledge in new and interesting ways of your own choosing = this is way more fun than it was before!

When the going gets tough before the inflection point, many children tend to push back. They scream. They cry. They refuse to go to class. At this point, and out of misplaced protectiveness, many parents/instructors simply, well, give up. It is up to you as their teachers to push them through this period by using structural tools that you have at your disposal, such as inviting students to enter into a mentor style program where they have increased responsibility to assist you and their team mates. Gradings and competitions are other tools to maintain that motivation. Making parents aware of the natural process their kids are going through will also help.

Coincidently this is exactly the same for adults—they all act tough and pretend these things don’t matter, but most adults have already got their new belt picked out online and cannot wait to wear it.

I have never met a so-called prodigy who did not experience this trough or did not have a lot of hard work and perseverance behind his/her achievements. Not one.

The idea that natural talent is all you need to achieve your goals and that natural talent means everything will come easy is false, but many people still hold on to it. 

The trough is a natural and inescapable part of human learning. What’s more, it’s never just one trough, but a series of troughs in any given discipline.

Once again our job as teachers is to guide and shape our students’ development, to boost them up during the high points, and to support them as they work through the low points.

Good luck!


Neil Owen is the Head Instructor of Infinity Martial Arts. With over 20 years of experience in BJJ, he is also one of the early pioneers of the British BJJ scene. Neil is fast becoming known as one of the top instructors in Australian BJJ. With seven full-time academies in Queensland, plus one affiliate and another three opening in the United Kingdom this July, Infinity is the most promising franchise opportunity for BJJ clubs in Australia right now. 

To enquire about franchising or affiliating with Infinity please contact neil@infinitymartialarts.com.au — all enquiries are treated with the strictest of confidence.


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