Joy And Difficulty For A Sustainable Practice

“I think the most important thing is to have fun. Everyone wants to progress, to get better, but, if you have fun, you will never quit… you will always do it. Eventually, everyone gets better. If you have fun, you will keep showing up.“
— Caio Terra, 12x Jiu-Jitsu World Champion

In whatever we do, we must find a way to do it that is sustainable over a long period of time. We all know the person, or have been the person, who tries something new, whether it is a hobby, a type of exercise, a diet, or whatever, and becomes obsessed with it, can not stop talking about it, and then quits. Passion, it turns out, is not sustainable, but enjoyment is.

Most often, manic, fanatical obsession with anything burns out as quickly and as intensely as it arrives. This is why New Year’s resolutions, for most people, do not last past January. The goal of any new practice should be to do it just slightly above our level of ability, to the point where it is difficult, but not so far beyond that point that it feels impossible, frustrating, or overwhelming to think about doing it forever.

Enjoyment alone is not sufficient and we should not settle for doing that which is easy simply because it is more fun. Anything worth doing is going to be difficult and it is in the difficulty that progress, growth, and change are to be found, but anything worth doing should also bring us joy, perhaps as the direct result of the difficulty. In order for us to sustain a worthwhile practice over a long period of time, we must find that sweet spot where difficulty and enjoyment overlap and then show up every day.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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