Check out the discussion of Three Rules for Good Jiu-Jitsu. This post stems from that discussion and others elsewhere on the internet.

The two main arguments are that “train smart” and “have fun” are more important than “train hard”. And there is truth to that, but it also depends on how you look at it.

If you don’t enjoy training, you’re not likely going to stick to it, but you have to be careful about how you define “fun” and how much priority you give “fun” things. When I see people who are too intent on “having fun”, they’re more prone to indulging in things like this:

  • Going with white belts they can toy with.
  • Not working on their weaknesses.
  • Ducking people who will make them work or give them a hard time.
  • Only doing enough reps to “get the idea”.
  • Stopping training to discuss something that happened.
  • Complaining about going with bigger or stronger guys.
  • Quitting when they get tired.

On the other end, there are a lot of things that aren’t fun but are necessary. To name a few:

  • High rep drilling.
  • Pushing your conditioning and endurance.
  • Sparring even when you’re exhausted.
  • Having competitive matches with guys who give you a lot of trouble.
  • Getting put in really bad positions and having to fight out.
  • Learning to deal with being smothered and crushed.
  • Dealing with that spazzy white belt or that tireless wrestler or heavier opponent.

Those aren’t “fun” to most people (congratulations if they are to you). I know people who purposely avoid some of those things. Now it’s perfectly within your rights to disdain things you don’t find fun or not do something that you think will get you injured. But I know my personality and know I’m prone to avoiding hard work, don’t like being competitive, don’t like discomfort (who does?) so unless I really keep my discipline in and train hard, I’ll do too much of the stuff in the first list and not enough in the second.

jandaim on The Grapplers Guide forum posted this:

I think what some people are missing is that you can still have fun, enjoy yourself, and train hard.

As an example – I train for and compete in marathons. Let me tell you, to get to the point where you can run 26 miles takes a ton of hard work. If I took every training mile like a “flow roll” there is no way I would ever reach my goal. Does that mean I don’t have any fun training? Of course not. Does that mean that every run is at 100%? Nope, I take days off and run some runs at a very easy pace just to get the blood flowing. But the majority of the time, I am working hard.

To be honest, it’s the hard work that I put in that makes it fun and the rewards are more than just a good time – there is so much more to be gained than just that.

Many people prefer “train smart” because they think “train hard” means “get injured” and I’ve got a story about that.

Recently I took about 2 months off. When I came back, I was a little out of shape and I didn’t want stress myself out or get injured. So I rolled light, played a relaxed game, let stuff happen, didn’t go with big guys, called it a night when I got exhausted, etc. Just tried to train smart and have fun.

Yet in two weeks of doing that, I sprained my ankle, hurt my knee, hurt my back, popped my elbow and injured my neck/shoulder. I never even knew how it happened. I thought I was going light and not pushing myself too hard and then I’d end the night with a new injury.

So much for training smart and having fun.

When I talked to Leo about it, he said something funny. “If you’re going to get injured, you might as well go hard and beat people while you’re at it.”

So I started rolling with a focus on imposing my game, really working, not resting, not “taking it easy”, doing matches even when I was beat, not turning down anyone. Grabbing the bigger guys and fighting them when I would have avoided them before.

Here’s the interesting part: I’m not getting injured any more. And I’ve found myself having more real fun based on real performance.

You’ll all have your own experiences and personalities and semantics to deal with on this issue, but for me training smart means to train hard. The fun is in the performance and seeing myself improve.

What takes the most importance to you–smart, hard or fun? Can you have them all? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.