Six weeks. Six weeks away from the mats. This is what I was given yesterday by the doctor who performed the follow-up visit to my shoulder, which dislocated during a Brazilian jiu-jitsu sparring session last week.
We sportspeople know very well how agonising it is to stay away from our favourite activity, but I strongly believe we could still somehow cultivate our knowledge of the sport while being far from the action.
This is how I intend to spend my 6 weeks away from the mats. Jiu-jitsu is a niche sport, so hopefully you’ll be able to adapt these tips to the sport you practice.
Organising my knowledge
I normally train 4 or 5 times per week, which means that I’m normally exposed to many new techniques—attacks, escapes, takedowns and whatnot. Flow charts or diagrams help us get a better grasp of those and organise our knowledge so that the many things we learn find their place in the grand scheme of things.
Here’s a flow chart from Rickson Gracie that you can easily find on the Internet:
As you may know I’m a big fan of Trello, and I believe that Trello boards can be used for jiu-jitsu too. This is an example of a BJJ Trello board that I’ve found online, built by some BJJ practitioner, so you can build yours from this. You can use Trello to list principles, gather techniques, track your progress, the sky is the limit.
Watching high level matches and breakdowns
We’re lucky enough to live in an age of mass video content production and distribution: this little thing called YouTube is full of high level matches that you can watch whenever you want, wherever you want. All you need to do is searching for your favourite grapplers—you’ll find matches, but also post-fight analysis and conceptual breakdowns.
While YouTube has content for several lifetimes, you might really want to go for the extra mile. In that case, subscribe to UFC Fight Pass. It’s well known among MMA fans, as it provides you with the whole UFC history at a monthly cost of $7.99–$9.99 (£4.99–£5.99 here in the UK), but many people don’t know its catalogue also features professional jiu-jitsu tournaments such as Polaris, Eddie Bravo Invitational, Combat Jiu-Jitsu, and several documentaries, original shows, and in-depth analysis of UFC fighters—there’s one on Demian Maia you really shouldn’t miss.
In case you didn’t know, this doesn’t force you to watch stuff on your laptop, tablet or phone—both YouTube and UFC Fight Pass can be enjoyed on your big screen via devices like Chromecast, Apple TV, Xbox, and Amazon Fire TV.
Cardio, stretching & flexibility
Ask me what’s the one thing I don’t want to lose during my 6-week forced holiday from jiu-jitsu, and I’m probably going to answer “flexibility.” I’m not the most flexible person around, so I don’t want to get things worse. If you’ve been doing the same stretching sequences for a while, scan YouTube for static & dynamic stretching exercises, and create new routines frequently.
I like starting from the bottom, stretching ankles, then proceeding with knee rotations, hips mobility exercises (super important for people like us who work in front of a computer all day), and stretch all the various parts of my body all the way up to my neck. Good range of motion is crucial!
Don’t forget to warm yourself up a little bit before stretching. If you’re at home, just doing some jumping jacks or running on the spots for 5 minutes does the trick, depending on your current condition / injury. I’ll abuse indoor cycling at the gym, because I don’t want to lose my current conditioning.
Solo grappling drills are also pretty good, do those that don’t affect your injured side of the body.
Studying from resources
Again, YouTube is full of instructional videos, but there are also great books, DVDs (or digital-only version of those, which I happen to prefer), podcasts, etc. I don’t have unlimited time to dedicate to jiu-jitsu, so when I’m able to go to the academy I prefer to spend my jiu-jitsu time over there. Staying away from the academy because I’m injured means I have more time to consume that kind of content.
I’ve got two great books on Jiu-Jitsu—Mastering Jujitsu written by Renzo Gracie and John Danaher, and Jiu-Jitsu University from Saulo Ribeiro. Podcast-wise, The Grappling Central Podcast and Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood are two I like. The Joe Rogan Experience has plenty of jiu-jitsu-related moments—don’t miss the episodes with John Danaher, Georges St-Pierre, Rickson Gracie, and so many other.
Bonus tip: Manage information overload!
No matter what you do, information overload is always around the corner. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many techniques, too many books, or unnecessary facts: excessive quantity of daily information will only confuse you.
Whatever your sport is, whatever the thing that make you feel alive is, we all experience some time off from time to time. If you have any other tip on how to maximise your days away from the action, hit that comment section below!