Returning to Jiu-Jitsu after time away
Returning to Jiu-Jitsu after time away is not easy. It is hell on the mind and hell on your ego. There are currently a handful of students coming back from various injuries or “injuries to their ego” who are in a slump and are letting their ego get the best of them. It is ridiculous to think that you are going to take time off and come back and hang with/submit people in training who have been more consistent.
When the first thing you want to do is “test yourself” if you’ve been away from training for awhile, that is a mistake and it’s crazy. Get back on the mat slowly, get familiar with the positions and rhythms again. Build rapport with the other students as you flow roll with them.
Then, as your comfort and cardio start to return, the competitive aspect will evolve naturally as you start to feel at home again. Now you will have sparring partners you know and have rapport with, your cardio is better, and you feel comfortable and at home.
One reason short breaks from Jiu-Jitsu turn into long breaks and years off or even never going back, is the FEAR of what will happen to you when you first go back. Exhaustion, getting tooled by lower ranks, feeling embarrassed that you aren’t “good” anymore.
Dealing with injuries
I tell my students to stay in their routine of coming to class even while injured and take notes. You will be surprised by how much you learn by watching class. I lost almost 2 years of my training to on “unlucky triad”, a torn ACL/PCL/LCL injury. However, I still went to class 2x a week for those 2 years and learned so much. Maybe you were injured and missed time. Sometimes life (having kids, going to college) just gets in the way. It is not the end of the world if you get your guard passed or get mounted in training. My advice is to eat crow for a month or so. You have to train your mind to do this or things will NEVER get better, you are just digger the hole further.
The road back
When you come back, you will feel like your regression is painfully obvious. Also you can’t dominate white belts, and suddenly other blue belts were dominating you again. Being dominated is a crappy feeling. You won’t want to go to practice because you know failure waits on those mats. You will hate being the “beatable” colored belt. You will be happy to find excuses.
When Jiu-Jitsu exposes a weakness, we have to acknowledge it. Jiu-Jitsu does not let you hide. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Our shortcomings will defeat us if we let them. It is time to get out of this mindset of winning/losing during training. It is just that….training. You will never get better at BJJ unless you tap. It is imperative to try, you have to fail, and that is how you learn and try to do better.
Furthermore, students that are wearing blackbelts understand this. They have been where you are now as well. Now is the time to get on the mats guys, things will get better in time. Getting better you have to train live, it doesn’t matter how slow. Flow-train if you must but not for too long. For that will become your new excuse But you will never reach your goals if you keep defeating yourself. You only have to be better than you were the day before to keep getting better.