Train smart in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no different to any other sport with injuries being part of the journey. While BJJ may be referred to as “arte suave” or “the gentle art” we all know that can sometimes be far from the reality. If a bunch of people get together to try and choke each other or inflict joint locks, the session can become far from gentle. However, the joy of BJJ is that although it can be rough at times, minimizing the time off the mats due to injuries can be quite simple. Here are some thoughts from my time on the mats doing BJJ as an old timer.
Your ego, leave it at the door!
Train smart as this is probably the main reason people get injuries in BJJ, the desire to prove themselves in training. Tapping is there to avoid getting your arm broken. If your aim is to practice your submission escapes push a bit further but don’t try to force your way out of a position that will see you injured. Instead relax and accept it, learn from the mistakes, understand why you were there and work on how to avoid it the next time. This applies equally when people refuse to let go of positions. Don’t get stacked from guard and hang on to it until you injure your lower back and neck. If you are losing a position, accept it and work on fixing your mistake rather than holding on. Why wait for the injury to occur putting yourself off the mats. If you can’t train you will never improve.
Your body knows, listen to it.
Train Smart, a rest day is essential. If you are training at least 5-6 days a week, you are dedicated to your development on the mats. However, if you don’t listen to your body you end up over training leading to injury. This will slow down your improvement drastically so take a day to allow your body to recharge, eat good food, stay hydrated and relax. Granted on occasions you may be tired, sore or have a minor niggle, and you still have the urge to train, this is the opportunity to take a light day. Try light technical drilling, or low impact activity off of the mats, definitely not full on competition rounds. Try a light “Chess Roll”. This is where you and your partner will roll really slow and light. You go one move at a time, you make your move and your partner makes theirs, and repeat. Focus on the technique and analyse your partners thought process when thinking of their move. This is also a great way to train when working around a minor injury.
Recover properly and fully
Train smart this is essential. If you don’t recover properly you will create more wear and tear on the body than those that do. Accept that recovery is simple all you need to do is get into the habit of doing these simple things. The result will be feeling and performing much better.
Stretching is so important for recovery. A proper stretch after every training session, yes EVERY session can help avoid annoying injuries such as pulled muscles, joint pain etc. Make it a habit to stretch after each workout.
What you put into your body is very important for everyone, even more so if you want to perform well during physical activity. Simply minimizing your intake of foods such as white flour, vegetable oils, highly processed meals, sugar as well as adding in lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy fats (e.g. extra virgin olive oil, avocado etc.) can help with recovery, inflammation and increasing your overall energy and vitality which will lead to productive time on the mat. Drink plenty of water, staying well hydrated throughout the day is a basic essential.
Everything else is pointless if you don’t sleep. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep a day will help with muscle recovery, hormone balance, healing the body and the mind. Sleep is essential for both healing and avoiding injuries.
So in essence it is simple train smart fight hard. To progress as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner then make sure you stay on the mats by following these simple steps, break bad habits, let go of the ego and just enjoy the gentle art.