Taking a long break from jiu-jitsu doesn't mean you have to give it up. Here are some considerations when returning back to the BJJ mats.
It could be the new year or you’re finally thinking about dusting of your Gi, and your belt and making your way back to the BJJ mats. Coming back to jiu-jitsu after a long time takes a lot of guts, especially if you’re a blue, purple, or brown belt. The main thing is that even after a long break of not doing jiu-jitsu, you’re always welcomed back but of course there are few considerations. Here are some things you should consider when coming back to the mats.
Get in the Right Mindset When Coming Back to BJJ
Sometimes we take off time from jiu-jitsu for multiple reasons. Sometimes it’s a major injury or just life changes, longer work hours, a new baby, or just needing a reset. Now that you’ve returned, you have to acknowledge that there are some advancements in the sport and in your teammates. Also there might be some new people in your local gym or the white belt you used to submit every five seconds is now an upper belt with a new arsenal.
When you decide to walk through those BJJ gym doors, go in there with the expectation of learning and advancing your already established knowledge. Your ego might take a beating but you’re more concerned about getting back into BJJ for the sake of doing BJJ, not your ego.
Communicate with your BJJ Coaches and Training Partners When Going Back To Jiu-Jitsu
When you decide to come back after a long while, you’re going through a lot of mixed emotions: you feel like you suck, you forgot a lot of things, your body hurts, and many times you feel like you’ve taken many steps back. There’s nothing wrong with telling your coach how you feel so they can help you with a training plan to get you back on track to where you were before.
In addition, with many different types of people in the gym, you might want to pick your partners wisely. If you have a friend at your gym who knows what you’ve been through and who you trust, you can talk to them about partnering up before the class so then you have someone who’s willing to work with you. If you’re at a new gym, talking to the main coach before and having them set you up with a partner might be an option for you. You just want to make sure that you’re taking time and not going with someone who’s going to train hard or someone who doesn’t have control.
Setting Realistic BJJ Training Goals When You Return
As you can imagine, getting back to jiu-jitsu might take some time for your body to readjust back to the techniques. Keeping this in mind, it’s best to take things slow and let your body slow readjust to moving in the way it needs to for jiu-jitsu. This is especially true if you’re coming back from an injury. There is no sense in going 100% and reinjuring the injury you’re trying to heal. Also, keep in mind that we want to rebuild back our cardio, flexibility, and strength. How many times have you gotten “gassed” when training because you’re trying to do a million things at once? Well, it’s going to be double if you try to use all your energy to train and roll.
It's also important to set goals to keep yourself on track and to not stop training. We want to do something that will keep us on track for the long run. It is quite common to want to try and come back every day after training and put 1000% effort into training. This only results in feeling so sore that you’ll want to take another break after a while. Starting off with small goals that are easily achievable is a good way to go.
Some small jiu-jitsu goals you can set when first coming back from a long break:
- Going to at least two classes during the week
- Drilling basics after every class (ex. Closed guard passing, mount escapes)
- Stretching after every class
- Drilling and using the move of the week during your rolls.
- Doing at least one roll after every class or during open mat.
These goals might be small when you start off but what we’re trying to do is get into small increments of training where we’re not overwhelmed. As you get back to where you were physically, then you can add days and intensity.
Start Slow with BJJ Fundamentals
Sometimes going back to basics is an awesome way to solidify what you learned previously, reacclimate your body, and refine fundamental BJJ techniques that everyone learns within their first few months of doing jiu-jitsu. There’s nothing wrong with going to a fundamentals class as an upper belt to practice and take things slow. It also gives you a great opportunity to practice, and help new white belts learn better. You can help your teammates no matter your BJJ knowledge and experience, and this is a great way to reacclimate your brain into thinking about jiu-jitsu as you do it.
Celebrate Every Milestone on Your BJJ Journey
As you get back into the groove of training, your fitness improves, you’re retaining more information, and you’re being consistent, make sure you’re celebrating yourself at every turn, even for the small victories: if you make it for class multiple times a week, if you’re able to get a technique you’ve been drilling a while, you didn’t gas out during a roll. These are some of the multiple things that you could be celebrating after your long break away from BJJ.
No matter how long you’ve been away, it’s amazing that you’ve decided to come back. You will never regret coming back to the mat after a long time away and your body, your mental health, and your self-esteem will all thank you.
Have you taken a long break from training Brazilian jiu-jitsu? What made you take that break and how long were you away? As always, tell me on Instagram @blackgirlwhitegi_bjj