How Do We Get Back To The Grind?

As schools start to reopen, we find ourselves eager if not zealous to get back to the daily grind of training. All that energy and enthusiasm pent-up for weeks and months… all the techniques and breakdowns and free instructionals you watched have got you eager to try something out on your unwitting partner… all of the drills you have done to make sure you stay sharp… of course you are raring to train like you have never trained before! 

You Can’t Just Pick Up Where You Left Of

Take a moment to think about this. Sure, you feel like you did not get rusty but unless your school bucked mandates, or you took part in any underground training (shhh), or you are one of the lucky few to live with someone else who trains, your mind and body may need some extra time to ease back in. To get a feel for things. To reorient yourself and maybe – at least – get used to the pace and the intensity. 

A study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine found that taking even just a two-week break from physical activity can result in a substantial reduction of muscle strength and mass. It also found that it can take even longer just to gain it back, so don’t treat yourself too harshly for not getting back to the grind quick enough. Naturally, this applies to taking time off due to injury just as much as any other reasons.

Pay Attention To Your Body

Consider that some of us have gained weight and lost lung capacity over those months. I gained 20 pounds, no lie. I have been reaching for my inhaler even just after the warmups on almost every Zoom class I have done these past two months. These alone give me an idea of how badly my first week or two back will be. In Jiu-Jitsu there are a ton of movements that we do only in Jiu-Jitsu. That means if you haven’t done any live training for a month or two, the muscles and ligaments involved when you do those movements might have atrophied or at least weakened due to under-utilization.

Move With Purpose And Intent

In your first few classes, take it easy and do every move deliberately, with as much focus and clarity as you can muster. No flying triangles, cartwheel passes, rolling kimuras, berimbolos… at least until you are certain that you’ve gotten back to how you were before the pandemic shut everything down

Warm Up

That includes you, purple belts! The effectiveness of warming up by doing calisthenics and dynamic stretches may be a controversial topic, but you are getting back from a long lay-off so there is no better reason to get to class early enough to join the warm-ups. A meta-study conducted by the Journal of Science and Medicine and Sport found that three out of five studies point to significantly reduced injury risk when warm-ups were performed.

Let Go Of That Ego

We’ve all heard this far too often. This applies even more if you haven’t trained for months on end. You may feel distraught when you find yourself not being able to pull off your signature move. Heck, you may even feel devastated when you find yourself cardio-tapping or tapping to the local heavyweight’s side mount. It’s okay. It’s normal. It doesn’t make any sense to compare yourself to that person who you were before you took time off. Focus on doing your best, to getting your stamina back, to regaining your strength and coordination, and take it one roll at a time.

Tap early, tap often, and you’ll be able to get back to the grind again the next day! 

Jeff Liwag

Jeff Liwag is an educator of 20 years with specializations in Special Education and Instructional Technology. "Submission fighting" lessons in 1999 was his first exposure to grappling martial arts, eventually taking up Jiu-Jitsu classes in 2004 and 2005, only to start training regularly at Gracie Barra Texas in 2011, where he still trains to this day, earning every belt rank up to his current brown belt from Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhaes.

Jeff Liwag has 11 posts and counting. See all posts by Jeff Liwag