Like any endeavor that requires a lengthy commitment, there will always be times where the pressures of life start to grind against your training time. Also, like any sport no matter how safe, there are bound to be injuries of some sort that pop up on occasion.
Before I explain my beliefs in this area, first I’d like to establish my pattern of thought… my concept so that you understand where i’m coming from. Hopefully you see it this way also, it will make things easier.
Why are You Here?
To me, the Academy is not a part time ‘hangout’ or ‘seasonal activity’ we bounce in and out of willy nilly in between other activities. The purpose of the academy is to Improve Your Life, to pursue your goals that you felt so passionate about that you were willing to come in and let strangers literally beat you up!
Sure, we may train Jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA but these are just a means to the ultimate goal of total self improvement. We are all here to become Stronger, more competent and capable people across all areas of life… not just on the mat.
I tell everyone the FIRST thing you must learn when you start with us is not a technique or movement… it’s to develop the ‘Habit of Training‘. It takes a few weeks, up to 90 days they say, to develop a rock solid habit… but once it’s developed and drilled into your daily routine it should actually be harder for you to NOT come to the academy than it will be to show up. This habit is fragile and must constantly be maintained through discipline and dedication to your ultimate goal of being a better you. When you skip a scheduled training day, or a class you regularly attend, you have just completed the first day of developing your new habit of quitting.
Secondly, one of my favorite sayings is ‘You are the average of the people you are around the most”. We join a tribe like ours because we acknowledge we can’t do it alone (or with the people that are currently around us)… we need help from those better and more accomplished than us in that thing we want. Being around the group, even if not training but just being around the energy, motivation and support still keeps you on track and moving forward.
Of course life happens… travel for work… a sick kid… a snow day or car breaks down… these things happen to everyone at some point and are understandable and even expected occasionally. But remember, it only takes a few weeks and you’ll be right back into the habit of that thing you worked so hard to get out of in the first place by coming here!
Like I said before if you’re in this game long enough you’re bound to hurt something eventually. But I don’t like to see people use it as an excuse to get lazy! So many times I see some arbitrary injury like a rolled ankle, mat burn, a stubbed toe or bent fingernail be the reason a person disappears for a month!
Like I said above… ‘Habit of Training’ needs to be maintained. To be completely honest, it would almost be impossible to be so injured you couldn’t come in and do ‘Something‘!
The standard is:
- If you’re hurt you come in, suit up, line up and do what you can.
- If you cant do something just say you cant do that and skip that part. (It’s OK, I do it myself all the time)
- If you cant stand, you can sit on the mat and watch and ask questions.
- If you’re in a body cast? No problem we have a hand truck in the back, we can wheel you in and out of here easy peasy!
I think you get the point…
So now when someone asks me… “How do I feel about taking time off for injuries or just breaks in general?” … You’ll understand why I say: It should rarely if ever happen, there’s really no reason for it… It’s usually more often just an excuse to be lazy than it is about real rest and recuperation! In order to achieve goals the habit of training must be maintained and you can not allow yourself to be separated from the power of the group!
…of course, if I just opened with this statement as the first sentence you’d all be looking at me like i’m crazy… hopefully, now you understand me a little bit more… but its ok to think i’m crazy… I am… I know… a little… maybe…
You have to realize, no one is going to think less of you because you have to step out on a skill or drill… they’re going to think MORE of you because you’re STILL THERE!
My Instructor/Mentor Amal Easton used to tell us all the time… “You never really get good until you get hurt” because having an injury forces you to practice things in ways you normally wouldn’t… Forces you to NOT use that hurt arm so your legs get better or cant be on top so you HAVE to be on bottom, force you to go slow when you like to be fast etc etc… And anytime you’re doing things outside your comfort zone it’s ALWAYS a good thing!
Also, it forces you to step back and focus on the cerebral part of Jiu-jitsu, the intellectual part. We tend to always work the physical body because being sweaty and beat up makes us ‘feel’ like we are making progress… but we often neglect the ‘Brain’ part which is equally important. Down time away from the mat is a great time to review video, review your training logs and notebook (which you should be keeping) and reviewing and redesigning your various systems of attacks and defenses in your head, planning out what you’re going to hit the mat running with when you return!
Of course, you have to actually show up for any of that to work. Prof. Amal never once told me to chill out at home for a month and get side tracked with a bunch of irrelevant shit!
One last story before I sign off (I have a lot of stories)
This one goes out to all those students who felt they needed to take time off or quit because of some hardship in life they think they couldn’t work around or had to leave to solve.
(Spoiler: They’re always never seen again!)
A sailor is on a ship surrounded by his crew, his buddies, his brothers…
There in a terrible storm going on all around them
lighting, wind, waves crashing over the rails
they’re hanging on for dear life…
Tell me brother, how bad would the storm have to get to make you think jumping out of the boat alone was a good idea!?
See you on the mat,