Two months ago I was getting ready for my first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament through IBJJF in Washington D.C. After almost two and a half years of training I was excited to have a live match with people outside of my gym. If you’re not familiar with Jiu-Jitsu: it is a grappling martial art (think: wrestling), but the match ends with submissions instead of pinning the opponent on the ground. As you are probably already thinking, there would be no easier place to spread a virus than in that type of sport! Needless to say, my competition scheduled for April 4th was cancelled. Not only that, but my gym was closed and I could no longer practice with my training partners.
Although the best way to get better at a sport is to practice it live with a partner, I have found other ways to continue developing as an athlete through study, solo drills, and conditioning. This post will explore three principles and philosophies that I have learned that apply to life off the mat.
- Do what you can with what you have. Some people have mats at home that they can practice on with a friend who can come over. Others, like myself, may only have a 5’ by 3’ rug from his brother’s old apartment to do solo drills on. For conditioning, some people might have a full home gym – others may only have a pair of running shoes and gravity: both can get you ridiculously fit. I also remember my two jobs out of college where I was making something like $30K and wanted to get started investing early on. It would be a while before I would have the funds necessary to open an account with vanguard, but I was able to start small by socking away $10-50 a month into a different service. The important thing is that you do something and not wait for all the traffic lights of life to be green to get started. The perfect conditions may never come.
- Find a coach and/or a role model. When the Jiu-Jitsu gym was open I had a coach there every time I went and role models there to develop my game with. The beautiful thing about the information age is that for a small fee I was able to gain access to a training program from one of the best grappling coaches in the world, John Danaher. With YouTube I can find role model’s and watch their matches for free before going to do my solo drills. Off the mats I have found coaches in books and podcasts, and with a little humility I can find all types of role models from the people I interact with at work.
- The stronger your defense is, the more risky your offense can be, and finish every defensive cycle by moving into offense. These two principles that John Danaher teaches his athletes transcends the mats. If your defense is so strong that you cannot be held down, then you are not afraid of being held down and can put yourself in tougher positions. If a boxer tries to go the whole fight only dodging punches and never moving into offense, how could they ever win?