The Coronavirus pandemic has hit us all hard, in many different ways. For us BJJ practitioners, who often need our regular jiu-jitsu fix, social distancing measures and the preventative closures of academies around the world have created a major disruption in our lives.
There’s no denying the importance of helping to slow the spread of this virus; while most of us lie in the low-risk category, we cannot possibly know for certain that we aren’t infected, and contagious, before we begin to show signs. By then, we might have infected others who are high-risk, or have close family members who are.
But we know how agonizing self-quarantine can be when you’re otherwise healthy and accustomed to your daily training sessions. So, we’ve come up with some ideas of things to do to stay fit and stay sharp, while you’re busy staying healthy.
Drill with Your Family or House Mates
In an ideal situation, some of your family members or housemates also train jiu-jitsu, and maybe you also have some puzzle mats lining an extra room in your house. While you might be limited in training partners, you can nevertheless break a sweat and get in your daily training fix. If your family or housemates are a lower belt than you, take this opportunity to sharpen your technique, work on some positions you don’t normally train, or even to develop your coaching skills and help your fellow practitioners with some things they have been working on or struggling with.
Even if you don’t have a home mat area, this is the perfect opportunity to do some targeted drilling. Rather than train full-bore and risk injury from sprawling or posting your head on a hard floor, get your reps in. Research varies on exactly how many times you have to do something before it becomes muscle memory, but the more you can reasonably get in, the better. And there are several different ways you can drill… Check out our blog “BJJ Pro Tip: Why Drilling Works” to learn more.
S&C or Solo Drilling
Maybe you don’t have any training partners at home. Not to worry! While you won’t be able to do some BJJ-specific drills, you can still do some strength and conditioning, or even some solo movement drills. These will not only allow you to fend off those extra pounds you might gain from lack of training and/or eating all your quarantine snacks, but it will also help you improve your jiu-jitsu in general.
If you have equipment at your house, now is a great time to get yourself “comp ready” (even if you don’t compete). Professor Galvao and Electrum Performance has great 8-week S&C programs for the Gi or No-Gi player. If you don’t have any equipment at your disposal, no problem. Simply set up a High-Intensity Interval Training course of between 5-10 movements and program a clock. Choose time increments that will make you break a sweat and push you a little bit, and go through the course between three to five times. These can be movements you know and like, or you can even find a HIIT workout on YouTube… there are plenty of good ones out there!
Study, Study, Study
Our philosophy has always been to incorporate study time into your weekly training regimen. The motto “Train Smarter, Study More” is not just a catch phrase, it’s something we truly believe in. Now, more than ever, is a fantastic opportunity to really get some solid jiu-jitsu study time in.
Research suggests that simply watching a technique can help people improve an individual’s performance when they go and attempt the technique, versus attempting the technique without prior introduction or study. In fact, by watching jiu-jitsu videos – whether via YouTube, BJJ Fanatics, or Atos Online – you’re activating the same neurons in your prefrontal cortex as you would be training. While studying jiu-jitsu is certainly no substitute for practicing jiu-jitsu, the combination of the two can have profound impacts upon your individual progress and improvement.
Discover a New Hobby
We know jiu-jitsu will always be your first love, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have other hobbies. In fact, in a round-about way, hobbies actually help your brain stay sharp and even perform better! According to research, “each and every time we learn something new our brain forms new connections and neurons”, improves the “plasticity” of our brain, which refers to your brain’s ability to change and adapt, and increases the rate at which signals move through our neurons, helping our brain to work faster and better.
In jiu-jitsu, this is incredibly important, helping you to learn better, faster, and continue learning throughout your career. So, use this time to discover a new hobby… something that you can do in the confines of your home, of courses. Maybe it’s something that you’ve always wanted to do, or something that’s entirely outside of your realm. Whatever it is, you will receive tremendous brain benefits that will reflect on your jiu-jitsu when you’re back on the mat.
Rest and Get Caught Up on Life
When you’re as avid a practitioner as we are here at Atos, taking a break from jiu-jitsu is very, very hard. But sometimes rest is the best thing for your jiu-jitsu. When is the last time you’ve taken a prolonged break from the mat? When have you allowed your body heal from all those little nagging injuries? When did you let your brain and body rest from the weekly grind? You might be training every day, but are you training at 100% each time? Odds are, you aren’t.
Take this time to rest your body, rest your brain, let injuries heal, and maybe even catch up on all those little tasks around your home that you’ve been meaning to do. You know, the ones that you keep putting off because you have to go to jiu-jitsu, or you’re too tired after training to even think about doing. Get caught up on all those life things, so that when the crisis is over and the academy reopens, you come back ready, refreshed, and without any nagging responsibilities in the back of your mind.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all our lives. But instead of just sitting around our house, let’s make the best of the situation, while doing our part to control the spread.
Stay safe everyone, and we hope to see you back on the mats – wherever those might be – soon.