The Musumeci’s set the bar outrageously high by being multi-time world champs AND going to law school. Because one nearly impossible feat isn’t quite enough for a lifetime, right? Tammi Musumeci has explained that she considers herself to have always been and continues to be a big nerd for both academics and jiu-jitsu.
So, for the rest of us mere mortals, why does being a full-time athlete and full-time college student just deemed damned near impossible?
The truth is, it really isn’t.
One of my professors once told me that the most valuable things you learn in college, are time management and discipline. Somehow that stuck with me more than the techniques shown in class. (Go figure)
Most people drop out of college because they do not prioritize time for studying and assignments, and freely give their time to distractions. They eventually lack the discipline to manage the balance between work and play. Similarly, most people quit jiu-jitsu because they do not schedule time for training wisely, and do not have the discipline to sit down and clarify their objectives. At times they go hand in hand, and young jiu-jitsu practitioners eventually quit training when they go away for college.
I fell guilty of the first one when I first started both college and jiujitsu. I got the jiu-jitsu bug at 19 years old, in my freshmen year of college. From then on, I completely devoted my time and energy to training, and disregarded my responsibilities for school. Little by little, my motivation for my degree slowly declined as my obsession with the sport grew, eventually leading to my drop-out in my junior year. Funny enough, it was around the same time I grew more serious and consistent about competition.
Over the course of 7 years of training, jiu-jitsu helped me develop a more polished work ethic and taught me to depend less on motivation and rely completely on discipline. Subsequently, I credit my time in jiu-jitsu for my return to school this past year (and the pandemic making all courses online as well). I didn’t feel like the time I spent away from school was time wasted, because I was unconsciously molding myself through the hardships of training, into the person I needed to be to finish my degree.
Jiu-jitsu gave my life the structure I never knew I needed and helped me mature into a more determined individual. This time around, I had the discipline enough to know how to prioritize and schedule work, play, training, studying and recovery accordingly.
Is it difficult? Absolutely. Is it impossible? Not if you decide it isn’t.
Like everything in life, it won’t always be perfect. At times, your scheduling system may fail or need adjustments. You might need to skip a training session or two to get a midterm or an essay done, or vice versa, you might miss a deadline or two because you were training for an upcoming competition. The goal in both academics and jiu-jitsu is CONSISTENCY. You are taking not one, but two endeavors that require a lot of physical, mental, and emotional preparation. Remember that lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.