Doing Jiu Jitsu Off of the Mats
By: Daniel Frank
There are times when the jiu jitsu practitioner is sick or injured and cannot get onto the mats. There are times when a practitioner’s home life, work life, or personal life interferes with their ability to get onto the mat. There are truly unique times, like our current situation, when it is best to stay off of the mats in order not to spread a contagion to the population and make matters worse. Not being able to get into the academy to do jiu jitsu is a tough pill to swallow. People are animals of routine. If you trained three times a week, then you probably had the same three days and times sectioned off in your calendar to train jiu jitsu. If you trained daily, then this time off of the mats is torture. The joy of seeing your friends everyday and attempting to sweep, pass, or choke them is temporarily put on pause. There are some ways to get this joy back until we are all allowed onto the mats again and free to choke all of our friends.
I’m willing to bet that your video feed has been inundated with jiu jitsu instructors from across the world showing you solo jiu jitsu drills that you can do from the safety of your own home. If you are practicing these drills daily, then it must feel like you are going through the first ten minutes of an intro class incessantly. It feels like the jiu jitsu version of ‘Groundhog’s Day’. There is a reason that instructors from Richmond to New York to San Diego to London to Rio de Janeiro are teaching the same drills. They are fundamental. All of these solo drills are necessary to make your jiu jitsu better. Practice does make perfect. If you do not have someone in your home to do jiu jitsu with, then these are your only options to getting some work in. Make adjustments with some of these solo drills, combine them, find new ways to use them. Look on the bright side, the next time you take an intro class you will look like the best student when doing the solo drills.
Everyone’s Cardio Will Be Terrible
Once we are all allowed back onto the mats everyone’s cardio levels will be close to the same. This helps all the huffers and the puffers out there. For a week or two every jiu jitsu mat in the world is going to be a place of struggle to get your lungs back to where they used to be. If you are a huffer and a puffer, then this will be your chance to get that opponent who seemed to roll forever without getting tired. Get them while you can because they will get their lungs back with some uninterrupted time on the mat. Nothing can really compare to the exercise that you get on the jiu jitsu mat, but there are other methods of exercise that can help you keep some of your cardio. If you have a bike, get on it and start biking some hills. Take a long ride where you push it hard at different intervals. A rowing machine works wonders for your cardio, as does a Versa Climber or an elliptical trainer. If all that you have is a jump rope, then get outside and add a minute to each session that you workout. Lastly, if all you have is your two feet, running can keep some of the rust off so that you do not have to drag yourself to the edge of the mat after your first roll back.
Watch Your Diet
Being cooped up at home has its temptations to eat everything in the pantry or the refrigerator. You want to get back onto the mats to get your cardio back and to improve your jiu jitsu, not to drop those twenty extra pounds you picked up while practicing social distancing. Eat healthy. The grocery stores are still open and are still offering fresh fruit and vegetables. You now have more time to prepare and savor a good, healthy meal. Make it a challenge to yourself – see if you can outdo each dinner with one that is healthier and tastier than the one before it. Don’t be afraid to splurge on a donut or two, add some extra Oreos to your ice cream, or have another beer. Just make sure that when you cheat it does not become a day-to-day thing or you will have some work to do once we are back in the academy.
Notes, Notes, Notes
Have you been diligent in taking notes from your previous jiu jitsu classes? I am willing to bet that most practitioners will say no. A small portion of the jiu jitsu population will say yes. Good for you. For the rest of us, who haven’t taken notes, we now have time to get our notebook started. Start with the basics and get to jotting down all that comes into your head. Now, edit it so that you can understand it easily. Draw pictures if possible. Once you have made it through the basics find ways to section off techniques. If you can write down ten techniques a day, by the time this crisis subsides, you will have a solid technique notebook to help your game.
Being a referee in jiu jitsu, I see almost all of the practitioners that come out onto my mat record their matches. Are you one of those people? If so, study your matches. What went right, what went wrong? Now is the time to look deeper into your matches and make improvements. If your coach is able to, then maybe they can study your matches and give you some expert advice. It doesn’t hurt to ask. There is a reason that elite athletes and teams incorporate video study into their routines, it works. If you do not have video of your matches, then go watch the best in the world compete. YouTube and Flo Grappling have more matches than you can watch. Go find a competitor who has your game and study, study, study.
Being forced off of the mats is not enjoyable. We will overcome it though. By being safe today, we can train tomorrow. Know that you are a part of the larger jiu jitsu community, worldwide, that has to go through this ordeal. We are all in the same boat and if we all row in the same direction, eventually, we will make it to the shore and train again.