This article is particularly timely since traditionally a lot of people return to their fitness routines after the holidays.
If you are returning to BJJ class after a hiatus for whatever reason (we pass no judgement here!) there are a couple of different approaches to be wary of.
Here are three of them.
#1 “I need to get into shape before starting BJJ class again”
I understand this especially if you used to train regularly and have been away for a period of time. One of the main, unspoken reasons behind this thinking is that we don’t want to get rolled up by guys that we used to handle in sparring.
There, I said it. You were probably thinking it.
Well, this is just going to be part of having been absent while your old training partners have been grinding it out.
The truth is that, while being physically fit helps any combat sport, you would best be served by just lumping it and getting back in there. Your endurance on the mat has more to do with your timing and technique than how many push ups you can bang out.
Forget trying to make up lost ground by doing some other fitness activities and just get back to jiu-jitsu (see point #3)
#2 “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!”
A grand sentiment. You will pay for those months of being lazy or it will traumatize your system and discourage you!
We have a mental image of what we expect of ourselves and our previous level of performance. If we insist on jumping right back into the deep end of the pool and forcing ourselves to try to perform that way immediately, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Have you ever been happy to see a former training partner return to class only to see them go really hard for a few sessions (with some epic gas outs!) then disappear once again? I’ve witnessed this many times. You caution them to take it easy upon just getting back but they perhaps want to atone for their sins of months of video games on the couch and jump right into the fire. The next day they awake nearly paralyzed from delayed onset muscle soreness and their enthusiasm dips lower than membership in the Harvey Weinstein fan club.
If you return to any intense exercise after an extended break, think more in terms of coaxing your body back instead of forcing it.
#3 – Dip your toe in the water.
The warm-ups in your academy are usually ideal for preparing your body to do the jiu-jitsu movements.
The challenging part is the high intensity rolling. I’m going to suggest giving yourself permission not to dive right into the deep end the first several sessions back.
Ask one of the more skilled training partners in your school to help you do a little flow rolling. They have the control not to turn your reintroduction into the Mundials finals.
“Can we move through all of the basic positions?” is a good question to ask. The movements happen faster than your brain can process them and you first need to go through all the positions and remember your key moves. Give your body some time to remember the movements.
A few sessions like this and it will all start to come back to you. Soon enough you’ll be back up to speed without shocking your body.