Grappling Training & Motivation

I recently received this question from one of my customers…

“Do you have any ideas on how to get motivated after a long day and just no desire to train?”

It’s a great question, and having a good solution is a MUST if you want to maintain your skills for a lifetime, and not become someone who “used to train.”

In 37 years of training, I’ve never had that problem, so it’s safe to say my methods for staying motivated work pretty well. But, rather than give you my motivation strategies right up front…

… I’d like you to share YOUR ideas first, so everybody can benefit (including me!)

So, PLEASE post your ideas and tell us how you stay motivated.

Once I have at least 10 posts, I’ll post my best motivation strategies as well.

I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Keep training,

Bob Dorris


  1. The way I stay motivated is to work out in the morning before the worries and grind of the day. Bob’s grappling dummy is awesome because I don’t have to worry about being stood up for my morning workout or my partner being injured. Make something a habit (like stretching) and you will be successful at it.

  2. I have recently been doing grappling tournaments as a way to stay motivated for training. It is something that is more immediate (2 or 3 months away) and gives you an extra reason to try harder. I first tried it with running and doing races. I might not be the fastest but it gives me a reason to do the training because I am going to be held accountable by my performance.

  3. The way I stay motivated is everyday after work I spend a fair amount of time trying to perfect my techniques because I love my martial arts and knowing that I will do that for a lifetime this gives me a hope and confidence that I will always improve my weaknesses and become a better martial artist and also better person who knows how to share good positive thoughts and ideas with fellowships along the world

  4. They way you keep your Motivation is by making training a life style and not just something you do.

  5. I AM 51 and i train everyday i have been a martial artist since i was 14, from tae kwon do to kettle bells to BJJ i keep it interesting, i am in the best shape of my life and have no intentions of going backwards with a strong discipline i can do anything i want

    • @Chuck,
      hello chuck I can relate to you, iv just turned 50 and iv been training most of my life from karate and freestyle karate to jujitsu grappling street self defence wing chun, aerobics and body building and your Wright why give up there is so much to learn and some much to pass on to others

  6. It doesn’t matter if it’s martial arts, running a business – or anything else. Just do it. Stop whining, and making excuses and just do it. No matter where you are in life – everyone has it worse. Don’t be lazy, don’t make excuses – find a reason every day to just do it. Then – you’ll look back at your life and wonder “What if?”

  7. The United States of America is under attack! Terrorist cells are among us as we speak. Who knows where or when the next attack will happen. It might be on a massive scale or it might be in a store or elevator, up close and personal. Motive to train, here it is. Consider yourself part of the unrecognized standing militia. Turn your sport skills into effective street skills. Break down motions that you perform at your job, regular habitual motions that you do over and over again and are conditioned to perform, and look at how that motion could be used to attack an assailant. Driving a nail with a hammer, consider that motion. Now perform that motion without the hammer in your hand. Focus on shoulder, forearm and wrist movement. You’re now practicing a downward bottom fist hammer strike to the bridge of a terrorists’ nose. That strike will detach the bone of the nose from the forehead right between the eyes, effecting the nerve associated with it, causing an immediate knock out. Study closely your everyday natural moves, search for effective combat techniques that mirror those natural moves. Let those moves become your kata. Then you’re training all day long. Go home and practice those moves on a training dummy. Study body anatomy and pressure points. Ever kneel with one knee on a board holding it steady with one hand and sawing the end off with a saw in the other hand? Drop the saw, kneel on a heavy bag or training dummy, grab the dummy by the throat with one hand just like you’re holding the board, complete the sawing motion with your other hand only now instead of sawing you’re driving your fist into the dummies head. See, you thought you were sawing a board but really you were practicing an effective ground and pound anti terrorist technique. When everyday natural moves performed serve to enhance effective commbat skills, then you’re always motivated and training and work become one.
    Rob F.

  8. As a former marathoner, the actual training was no problem. It was getting out the door to run that was the problem. Same with BJJ, weights or whatever. You’ve heard it before. Just do it! I don’t regret it when I go work out, even if I don’t feel like it. I do regret it if I don’t go work out. Mix it up with some cross training, 100 yard sprints, biking, whatever you can do. I hope to have a dummy one day to add to the mix. BTW, I’m 53 in November and have been doing it since 21. Like someone said earlier, just make it part of your routine in life.

  9. Fear of failure keeps me going. I attended a seminar today with Royce Gracie, and Crosley Gracie. They were able to brush up my game a lil, seminars absolutely are my new thing. And of course setting goals, the day I stop learning is the day I die, I have enrolled in a big tournament fear of failure will keep me going, and another day I will share my dream, when i am feeling down i just re-visit my dream.

  10. Switch up the routine. Training the same way over and over gets you into the law of familiarity and the motivation seems to disappear. Just like Mike Tyson said, the hardest part about training is the repetition of it all. Keep things interesting by finding new training methods that get you the results you want.

  11. stay motivated by being glad your alive and blessed you can do it. its a gift wheater you open it it’s up to you.

  12. Regardless of the time I train at my school, I make sure I get in 10 minutes of home “mat” time everyday. Mostly it’s with the grappling dummy, but I also do stability ball drills, BJJ drills, etc. If I’m out of town or traveling, I count my 10 minutes either by watching Youtube videos or reading about a new technique or doing visualization.

    This way, BJJ is as much a part of my daily routine as having a BM, and if I haven’t had either, something just doesn’t feel quite right!

  13. I also train in the morning after I stretch. If I miss a workout I feel sluggish, just off all day. So I too live this as a lifestyle. And it helps me stay focused during the day. I’m able to finish work early. Go to the gym and then train my BJJ. Currently for me, I need to work on my skill-endurance (practicing techniques while fatigued). So I’m training twice each day, once fresh & once fatigued. On the days where I feel my nutrition or sleep is off. I’ll take caffeine in pill form or drink (last resort). It’s not unusual for me to up 15-20 hours a day. But excuses/reasons don’t serve me. They only let me feel it’s okay, to sell my self short. So I don’t allow those types of mental blockages allow me to give in & quit.

    And I grew up in a very violent environment: male figures, schools, etc. So some days, I visualize those events, using them to fuel me. I also visualize my techniques during the day (while I’m walking to the bathroom, reaching for something, whatever). Whether it’s elbows in, closing the gap, different types of grips/locks, etc. Then when it’s time to train. I’m looking forward to it. Change up your training each time, that way it never gets stagnant or feels like a chore. Visit different schools and especially seminars/tournaments/etc.
    I am a Martial Artist because I love it, not because I have to.

  14. I stay motivated by looking at the progress I’ve made and not wanting to let all that hard work go down the drain by not training. I think that if you take the time to see the progress you’ve made, you almost can’t help but want to go train. Plus we all know how much better we feel after a workout.

  15. For those of you who want to compete. . .just know that when you ain’t trainin,’ your competitor is! :)


  16. Thanks for all the great motivation tips that were posted!

    A couple of my strategies may reiterate what some of you have already said, but as promised, here’s my suggestions for how to stay motivated:

    1) Train in the a.m., before work. It’s much easier than training when you’re already fatigued from a full day of work.

    On a related side note, I’m trained in Chinese Medicine and, in their theories, they feel it’s unhealthy to exercise when you’re already exhausted. It only makes sense that you wouldn’t feel motivated at that time.

    2) If you can’t train in the a.m., train during your lunch break from work. It breaks up the work day nicely, you feel great all afternoon, and you’ve got your whole evening to enjoy yourself.

    3) Even if you’re going to train on the grappling dummy, schedule to have somebody to meet you for training on a regular basis. It’s much harder to cancel training when someone else is expecting you. You can motivate each other.

    4) If you’re skilled enough, teach a couple people once or twice a week from your home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t charge them or do it from your home. There’s plenty of people who’d like to learn and can’t afford a school.

    It not only forces you to keep learning (so you can stay “ahead” of them), but your ego won’t let you look bad in front of them, so you’ll train during the week just so you can feel good about yourself when you’re with them.

    You don’t have to be great, just a little better than them. Then, just try to stay better than them.

    5) Loud, motivating music can get your adrenaline going enough to start the training. Once you start, you feel great and are glad you’re doing it.

    6) Limit the time you’re planning to train. Set it kind of short initially, like a 1/2 hour. It’s easier to start when you know you’ll be done in a half hour. You’ll also train harder, knowing you only have a limited time to do it. You can lengthen the time later if your motivation increases.

    7) Here’s a favorite of mine… use the principle of “Commitment and Consistency”. You can read about it in Robert Cialdini’s “The Science of Influence” if you’re interested.

    Basically, it means that once we publicly state something about ourselves, we psychologically feel compelled to live
    up to what we have declared.

    So, you can use this by telling yourself and others around you about your training schedule, how much you love it, how good it makes you feel, etc. Think of yourself as someone who is great at martial arts, and tell your friends how good you are, even if you don’t believe it (and at the risk of being a bit “cocky”, but it’s for a purpose). People will start to believe what you say, and you’ll really feel compelled to be “consistent” and live up to what you are holding yourself out to be. It’s a really powerful technique and was a life changer for me several years ago.

    8) Once you get a set schedule and have the “habit” of training regularly, be very protective of that habit. Don’t let anything or anyone change your habit. It’s much easier to keep a good thing going than it is to start from scratch.

    Let me know how these work for you!


  17. If you are having trouble staying motivated to train, you may have to ask yourself why you train. I know for me, BJJ is a deep passion. It’s kind of like a drug that I need to get. It’s never a question of staying motivated, but rather when can I get to it again.
    I see BJJ as a martial art with limitless potential. You can never really master it. It constantly evolves and changes. This search for further knowledge is what keeps me going. If I didn’t have this thirst or desire to continually get better. Then I probably wouldn’t do it anymore. So I don’t mean to sound harsh, but if your lacking motivation to train in BJJ then maybe it isn’t for you. Life is too short to not spend your time doing something you love. There maybe something better for you out there. Find your passion and attack it with valor.

  18. ..8) Once you get a set schedule and have the “habit” of training regularly, be very protective of that habit. Don’t let anything or anyone change your habit. It’s much easier to keep a good thing going than it is to start from scratch..


    Isn’t this the main reason people stay married? =)

  19. Like Rob,Let’s not even go as far as terrorist.
    If you have children and a family to protect. You never want to find yourself in a situation where you are not able to protect or defent them. This is your motivation, if you don’t feel like training, just imagine yourself being helpless in defending your family. The look in the eyes of your children. This should get you motivated.

  20. I’ve been training in martial arts & fighting for over 30 years, and I’m lucky that I’ve never needed motivation… I just enjoy doing it! It’s also a great stress reliever after a hard day at work or whatever.

    I can never understand those guys that skip workouts cuz they had a bad day at work and want to go home and relax… for me, I guess that would be my motivation… go kick some people in the head or break some arms to relieve stress lol

  21. I’m 47yoa and have physically trained most of my life. I am a certified instructor of Wing Chun Gung-FU and have a working knowledge of BJJ. Most of my strength training comes from Kettlebell and Clubbell training.

    Any time someone ask me about buying a piece of equiptment, I asked them about their training habits. You see, I’ve learned that your stongest muscle is your mind. It does not matter on the equipment or how motived you are, or even how tired you are. If you allow your mind to say not today, I’m tired, I just don’t feel like it, or it’s too late in the day, or I just need a break. You’re weakening your strongest muscle; your mind.

    Don’t get me wrong, you need to allow your body to recuperate. But, don’t allow your mind to control what you need to do with your training regiment. I personally don’t care if it’s 3am or 12noon. We all have done things we really don’t want to do, or gone to places we do care to be. I mean, how many times have we told ourselves, “I don’t feel like going back to work today”; but you do anyway.

    You see, that same drive needs to be there all the time. When I’m tired, I just focus on what maters most to me. Whether it’s Wing Chung, weight training, grappling or whatever I want to keep fresh in my mind.

    Try focusing on looking forward throughout the day to your training and what you want to improve or accomplish. Even if it’s just a few minute that day, you’ll be surprised on how much energy you can and will elicit.

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