No matter how much we live and breathe Jiu-Jitsu, we are sometimes forced to take a break. Sometimes life throws curveballs at us. We might be in a great routine with training, working hard every day, and suddenly have to stop. Maybe we sustain an injury. Maybe we get sick. Maybe a crazy virus throws our whole country into lockdown. Regardless of the reason, time off can be tough. Where we would normally be spending hours of the day at the gym, we now have large gaps of time, not to mention pent up energy. It can feel frustrating, like we are not progressing, or even losing skill. Whatever the circumstances, there are many ways to stay busy and capitalize on the time when you can’t train. Here are a few ideas of ways to make the most of your time away from the mats.
Study Jiu-Jitsu. Even if you can’t train physically, you can still train mentally, and there are a plethora of resources out there. Many academies offer online training options with detailed instruction from their daily classes. This is a great way to stay up-to-date with your training and expand your technical knowledge from home. There are also instructionals available from various athletes through sites such as BJJ Fanatics, allowing you to focus in on a specific style or position. If your budget is tight, there are also many free options available on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Instructionals aside, you can also take a critical eye to match footage of yourself or other athletes. Watch your own matches and look for weaknesses that you can improve upon. Find a competitor that excels at the moves you’re working on, and study what they do. Thinking intellectually about Jiu-Jitsu can help you improve, even if you’re not actively training.
Use at-home exercises to strengthen your body. Taking some time off for physical rest is important. However, if you’re forced to take an extended hiatus from training, it’s important to keep up your physical fitness. You can get a great workout just by using bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. If you have an injury, find ways to work the healthy parts of your body. If you have kettlebells or dumbbells, throw those in. Curl water gallon jugs. Do squats with someone on your back. Get creative. There are lots of resources online for fun workouts you can do at home.
Put some focus into stretching or mobility training. With all the beatings you put your body through, it could probably use some love. Take some time to work on your flexibility. Practice movement drills. Try some yoga. Sites such as Yoga For BJJ offer free trials, and there are also many free resources online that will keep you busy.
Just rest. Sometimes it’s OK to just allow yourself a break from it all, mentally and physically. This can be especially difficult in our busy culture that’s hellbent on productivity, but sometimes rest is just as important as any activity we can accomplish. Take a nap or lay down and listen to some music. Spend some time sitting in nature and just observe in stillness. Meditate or pray for a while. Sometimes a time of rest can recharge us and help us to be happier and more productive when we go back to our busy lives.
Spend some time working on other hobbies. Life isn’t just about Jiu-Jitsu, spend some time honing other skills, or even picking up new ones. Practice a musical instrument. Paint something. Read a book that’s been on your list for forever. Learn how to cook a new dish. There are so many activities to experience, so take advantage of this time and enjoy them.
Focus on your relationships. When we’re running nonstop every day, we sometimes lose touch with important people in our lives. Time off from training can be the perfect time to shoot someone a message and let them know that you care. Catch up with an old friend and see what they’ve been up to. Have a long phone conversation with your mom. Write your grandmother a letter. If possible, go spend an afternoon with that person you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Use the time to take stock of and develop the relationships in your life.
Clean out your closet. Most of us have more things than we need, and time off from training is the perfect opportunity to get some deep cleaning done. Go through your stuff and organize. Weed out the clothes and other odds and ends that you never use. Donate what you can and throw away what you can’t. It can feel rejuvenating to have a clean, organized space, and could help someone else who needs what lay dormant in your closet for years.