Founder, President, and Head Instructor of the Ronin Training Institute.

Author: JJ Pugsley

What Motivates Us To Continue Learning?

The end of a formal education shouldn’t mean the end of learning. Even if you never plan to set foot in a school or on a college campus again, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to learn.

But as many people as there are that fantasize about studying world history, picking up a new sport, or learning a foreign language, fewer actually do it. When learning isn’t required, it can seem difficult to motivate yourself to do it. So what motivates us to keep learning, and how do we harness that motivation for ourselves?

Extrinsic motivators

Learning after school can seem difficult because of the lack of extrinsic motivators. As a student, you were extrinsically motivated by tests and graded assignments. Even if you had other reasons to learn, such as an interest in the material or a wish to become better at a particular skill, the extrinsic motivations built into schooling were always there to back your other motivations up.

Some people attempting to learn after school try to re-establish artificial extrinsic motivators. But this almost always fails in the long term. Firstly, most people don’t have the discipline to hold themselves to that kind of carrot-or-stick motivation. And secondly, extrinsic motivators don’t work very well anyway. They can create a routine around learning, but unless you have a deeper reason to learn, that learning will never become anything other than a routine.

It’s the same reason why you probably remember almost none of the information you learned in the classes you didn’t care about. If you were studying just to pass the test, you weren’t really taking in the information.


Intrinsic motivators

Whatever you’re trying to learn, ask yourself why. Do you want to understand something more deeply? Do you want to prove your worthiness to someone? By understanding our motivators, we can guess whether they are enough to keep us going long-term, and bolster them as needed.

Intrinsic motivators can be separated into three general categories. If you want to know how to do something on your own–say, changing your oil or repairing your clothes–you are motivated by a desire for autonomy. If you want to get better at something because it’s important to you–say, learning to play an instrument because you love music, or learning about a period of history because it interests you–you are motivated by a desire for mastery. And if you want to learn so you can be a part of something–say, learning coding because you have an idea for a life-changing app, or studying politics so that you can work as an activist for a cause–you are motivated by a desire for purpose.

All of these can be effective intrinsic motivators, although they may need to be adapted overtime, as your needs and interests change. For example, if you began learning how to play soccer because it interested you, and then discovered you could help your community by learning enough to volunteer as a youth coach, you turned your initial desire for mastery into a desire for purpose.


Csikszentmihalyi’s Concept of Flow

Our abilities also determine how successful a learning experience is. Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow demonstrates that how well you learn depends on the balance the challenge of the lesson and your ability to learn it. If your ability is approximately equal to the challenge of the task you are undertaking, conditions are optimal for learning. If the challenge is too great for your ability, you will learn at a much slower pace and become easily frustrated. If the challenge is too small, you will be bored, and learn at a similarly slow pace.

When you are learning on your own, you have the opportunity to match your challenges to your ability exactly. However, many people still under- or overestimate their skills. Maintaining motivation for learning requires a lot of introspection and self-honesty.


History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


One of the most important aspects of learning mixed martial arts is understanding the roots and development of the sport. By knowing the history, we are able to better comprehend the meanings and teaching that the art has to offer. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has an interesting historical background and a unique way of incorporating its past into its present teachings.




To fully comprehend the history of BJJ, one must first know about the roots that it has in the art of Judo. Judo was created by Jigoro Kano in Japan. Kano refined some of the techniques that he had learned from other arts and made them his own. As he began developing Judo he made sure that all the teachings were set in a realistic scenario. Many ancient arts before Judo focused on “pre-arranged sequences of attacks.” Kano realized these unrealistic situations were unlikely to assist in a true battle. He began focusing on free sparring and less on the rehearsed skills. As Kano continued spreading his teachings across Japan, many prodigal students came through his system. One of these students, Mitsuyu Maeda flourished and become one of Judo’s greatest fighters. Having remained undefeated in the sport, Maeda was sent by Kano on a journey around the world to show people the powerful art of Judo.


Gracie Family


Those within the BJJ community undoubtedly know a great deal about the Gracie family. Around 1917, a young man named Carlos Gracie was in attendance at one of Mitsuyo Maeda’s Judo demonstrations in Brazil. In awe of his performance and abilities, Carlos wanted to learn the art, so he enrolled in Maeda’s school. Passing on his knowledge to his brothers, Carlos had no idea that he was in the midst of building a BJJ empire.. In 1925 the Gracie family opened their first Jiu-Jitsu school where they continued teaching Maeda’s lessons of Judo with their own adaptations to the techniques. Carlos’ brother, Helio begun practicing the art and is now credited as the main reason for Jiu-Jitsu’s rapid spread around Brazil. Helio gained his own realm of fame when he began traveling around the country, willing to fight anyone who offered up a challenge. Upon the opening of the school, he also welcomed anyone to come through his doors and face him. At gyms around the world, you can expect many people to reference this gesture the “Gracie Challenge.”


In the 1980s members of the Gracie family began to migrate from Brazil to the United States. Though popular around the world, the art didn’t see its American fame until the 1990s when Royce Gracie, Helio’s son, dominated the first ever UFC match using his BJJ skills. The Gracies began proving to the world that kicking and punching is not always the best fighting tactic.



As Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has continued developing and adapting throughout the years, its history and roots remain the core teachings of the art. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has and always will continue promoting safe fighting techniques, physical well-being, and character building.


What It Takes to be a Good Coach or Instructor

In sports, there is one person who is integral to the athletes successful outcomes. They are the brain and the gears that encourage athletes to perform at their highest potential. They are always finding ways to challenge their players and get the best out of them. They are the coach or instructor. A coach is not always the stereotypical parent volunteer who knows little to nothing about the sport. Many coaches have spent their lives mastering a specific sport. They choose to share their knowledge with athletes willing to better themselves and their understanding of the sport. Not everyone excels at being a coach. It takes a certain type of person with exceptional traits to thrive in the role.




One of the most important attributes a coach must have is patience. There will likely be circumstances where athletes learn certain concepts at different speeds. As a coach, you must have the ability to explain techniques or drills in a way that all team members understand. Not every athlete will develop at the same level, especially children and adolescents. Having the patience to ensure everyone grasps the concepts you teach is an important trait for a successful coach.


Communication Skills


For instructors, having knowledge of the sport is crucial. More important than the knowledge is having the ability to express it through efficient communication. When information is unable to transition from coach’s brain to player’s ears, the relationship and sport become tainted. When communication is effective throughout the team, the environment remains positive. Motivation often stems from powerful pep talks, and the role of a coach requires momentum to come from such discussions. Just as teaching the sport comes with adapting to the individual, communication also requires a level of patience.


Controlling Emotions


Although emotions as a whole is a broad spectrum, those leading in sports must keep them all in check. There are appropriate times for emotions in sporting events and there are inappropriate times. An example is, when a player masters a skill (during a game or match) a coach should absolutely celebrate through happy emotions. But, frantically screaming at a referee because of a bad call, is not encouraged. The athletes look to the coach for advice. As their role model, it is important to distinguish a line of acceptable forms of displaying emotions. Demonstrating passion and enthusiasm in a positive manner sets a great example, especially for the young athletes.


Everyone is not suited to fill the role of coach or instructor. Having an in-depth knowledge of the sport is crucial but many other characteristics come into play. Playing the part of coach entails a great deal of commitment and professionalism. These traits are ones all the great coaches past and present possessed.

Benefits of Getting Children Involved in Jiu-Jitsu

Most parents spend their weekends watching their children attempt to play a complex sport using equipment they need years of practice before mastering. Although getting children involved in any structured activity at a young age presents benefits in social and physical skills, sports using only a child’s body give them a greater chance of mastering the skill much sooner. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) training program is a great place for children of various ages to begin their involvement in organized sports. BJJ is one facet of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) that not only keeps children active, but teaches confidence, respect, self-defense, and discipline at every level of engagement.


The art of Jiu Jitsu stems from the ground fighting aspect of judo and the combat technique advocates the idea that a smaller or weaker individual has the capability to stand their ground against someone much larger and stronger than them. These methodologies easily instill confidence in children and as they learn the techniques, they gain an understanding that size does not always matter. Though many advances have been made to end bullying, it unfortunately is still a part of society. Learning Jiu Jitsu inevitably gives the skills to defend one’s self but additionally boosts confidence in a child by knowing they possess such abilities to take action if ever necessary.


Many MMA programs assist in building confidence in their students. Jiu Jitsu separates itself from the rest, through the style of fighting it promotes. Other facets of MMA use striking techniques which, for children, are likely not beneficial in real world scenarios. A post in Jiu Jitsu Times makes a valid point, sharing that the unrealistic story lines presented to students in other forms of MMA could unavoidably give false confidence to children. Parents of BJJ students are also likely to appreciate the sport’s no striking approach, especially at ages when hitting and kicking become problematic.


The diverse culture revolving around Jiu Jitsu has become a great tool in guiding children on a positive path regarding respect. Looking around a BJJ training school, participants are able to see men and women interchangeable in teacher and student roles, teaching children the importance of receiving and accepting instruction from anyone. People of all ages, ethnicities, and economical backgrounds gather to learn the art, and immersing children in such a diversified environment reaps benefits unteachable in most settings.


Other added bonuses to involving children in Jiu Jitsu at a young age is the consistency of the programs. Most team based sports have seasons that come and go depending on the time of year. Unlike those sports, trainings in Jiu Jitsu continue year-round, consequently supporting the discipline aspect of the art. When children have time off from their extracurriculars, it often takes time for them to get back into a structured routine, but such trends do not take place in Jiu Jitsu. Another advantage deserving recognition is the overall health benefits of the sport. Those training at advance levels of BJJ are inclined to follow healthy diet and nutrition plan. Instructors are likely to bestow this lifestyle in the young athletes and their parents, encouraging all around health.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the greatest aspects of MMA due to its accessibility for people of many backgrounds. The benefits of engaging a young child in the sport helps develop not only physical, but social and emotional skills, able to support them throughout their lives. Developing positive relationships and gaining skills that will be useful throughout life. What more could a parent ask for?


JJ Pugsley is the Founder and Head Instructor at the Ronin Training Institute. Please stay tuned for more updates!

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