The holidays are a tumultuous time for training jiu-jitsu. This is the time of year where most people completely fall off the self-improvement grid and opt instead for glorious feasts and more rest days than training days. This is not limited to jiu-jitsu practitioners. For everyone, the holidays are a great excuse to get off of just about any diet and exercise regimen. From about Thanksgiving until the new year, weight-gain becomes rampant, training becomes sparse and family time is abundant. Training usually takes a back seat.
If you do plan on training over the holidays, you will encounter a few complications. One of the biggest obstacles to training through the holidays is that a lot of schools are closed down. This fact can make it tough for any athlete trying to squeeze in a few sessions throughout the Christmas and New Year break. Most people just assume this is par for the course and use it as a sign to enjoy a break and resume in the New Year. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for you if you are trying to maximize your time over this time of year:
Find ways to keep training
Taking time off of training is rarely an option for serious practitioners. Most of the people completely engulfed in the gentle art will find ways to train in some capacity or another while their schools have reduced hours or are simply closed. If you are a serious practitioner, you might be finding ways to get your training in at all costs. You can consider asking your coaches or Professors if they will allow you to run a holiday open mat. Another option is to see if any of your friends or training partners have set up some home mats so that you can get in a session or two in someone’s garage. Another less convenient option is to travel across town or across the state to cross-train at another academy. If you are in dire need of getting your fix over the holidays, you will find a way.
Stay active and motivated
Finding a place to train or even finding a consistent training plan throughout the holidays is one of the most challenging aspects of maintaining a good training schedule. If your school is closed for the holidays, again, you can seek other academies to cross-train at. In the very least, stayactive. Lift weights, do some strength work or take the time to work on your mobility and flexibility. Anything active and physical you can do is better than taking the time completely off. Your body and your mind will thank you come the New Year when it’s time to get back on the grind plus, you will stay motivated.
Recover any and all injuries you have
Taking time off is not always a number one recommendation for die-hard jiu-jitsu practitioners but the holidays are a great opportunity to recover from the nagging aches and pains that you accumulated throughout the year. This is the time where there are very few, if any, jiu-jitsu competitions and most of your training partners will be taking a break as well. The need to get better while everyone rests is quite real, however, take care of your body and heal up first. In the event that you cannot find good training, you can always shift your focus to recovering any lingering aches and pains you have so that you can start the new year fresh.
Avoid Jiu-jitsu all together
The tendency for jiu-jitsu practitioners when faced with all of these holiday obstacles is to take a break completely and stay away from the mats
physically and mentally. Even if your body is taking a break through the holidays, that does not mean your mind has to. Meditation andvisualization are great mental tools to keep your mind training even if your body is not. Take a few minutes throughout each day and watch some instructionals or YouTube some competition matches of practitioners you enjoy watching. Keep your mind sharp and engaged in a jiu-jitsu practice. This will make jiu-jitsu seem less alien when you return.
Rush back into it
After taking more time off than is usual, most practitioners will rush right back into it. Unwanted weight-gain can be a profound motivational tool and if you have taken a few weeks off, you may want to jump back in, head first and throw caution to the wind. The major challenge with this is that your body has acclimated to being sedentary. It has adapted to shoving unhealthy food into your face and has experienced an exponential rise in couch time. Rushing back in at the same intensity with which you left may increase the risk of injury. Injuring yourself during your return can lead to more time off and this can influence your desire to stay with training for the long haul. Ease back into your practice when you are ready for your return and enjoy much longer, sustainable success.
Feel Guilty about enjoying some time off
If you plan on taking some time off, do not stress about it! Remember, you are making a choice to enjoy good, unhealthy food and spend time
with family and friends. Feeling guilt will make things harder for yourself. Accept your decision to take some time off. Enjoy your time with
friends and family. This can be a great reset for you mentally and physically. Jiu-jitsu will be there when you get back so do not be so hard on yourself when you return. Most of your training partners are probably in the same boat so do not stress and have some fun!