If you don\’t play to win, why play at all?

In-Between BJJ
November 17, 2009, 1:34 am
Filed under: BJJ Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
So I have finally decided to take a break from BJJ.  I’ve had my last training last Thursday, and I also decided to sell some of my BJJ stuff.  Keiko went home with someone already, and I am still selling my yellow Vulkan and Fairtex Muay Thai shorts.  I’m keeping a few — I still have my blue Atama, which I will never, never sell as it served me for two years being my only gi (and it still is as hardworking as ever!).  Black Koral is also staying, because I have competed in it several times, and the pants fit me perfectly.  Then there’s the white Jag Sport gi from my coach which is obviously for keeps for sentimental reasons.

I have been feeling down in the past few days.  I am pretty sure there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let go.  I am particularly down as soon as Jana, the girl who bought my Keiko, left with my gi.  I’m afraid that it is a symbolism — gi leaving my closet means my BJJ leaving me.  Or the other way around.  Whatever it is, I feel that I am betraying the sport that I have learned to love and live for.  A few years back, not being on the mat for a few days drove me crazy.  I was addicted to the sport, and I have learned to change my lifestyle to be able to accommodate BJJ better.  My work schedule revolved around BJJ.  Even my friends had to wait for me all the time, because I wouldn’t meet with them during training.  I just couldn’t afford to miss a class.  I’ve built friendships with the people I train with, and I’ve learned to avoid everything that will get in the way of my training (smoking, drinking, sleeping late).  But somewhere along the way, I noticed my waning interest in BJJ this year.  I still kept on training, until the only thing that made me train was the socializing part.  I like chatting with my teammates, and going out with them, and that was the only reason that made me come to the gym.  Although it was nice, I feel that it was not enough, and not good at all.  So last week when my coach was out for the No Gi Mundials, I thought hard and decided that it is best for now to take a break.  Forget the mat for a while.

I believe (and I am sure) I still love BJJ and will be coming back anytime I am ready.  I just don’t want to do it half-heartedly.  It’s unfair for the sport, for my coach, for my teammates.  I have to be on the mat for the right reasons.  Maybe I just need to miss BJJ.  I have been doing it for 3.5 years, everyday, for the most part.  It could be burn out.  On a side note, I have just started trail running and I figured this could be a good in-between-BJJ sport, just to keep me active and busy while I am trying to figure out how to get my BJJ mojo back.

Good times with some of my favorite teammates
While we’re on this, I found this on the net:

SOURCE:  http://thewisegrappler.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/10-signs-you-need-a-grappling-vacation/

10 Signs You Need a Grappling Vacation!

Here’s a question for you: if one of your teammates showed up for class, dropped their bag on the floor, plopped down in the chair next to you, and said “I do NOT want to be here today”, do you:

a) Call him a wimp for sitting on the sidelines whining prior to training?
b) Run and tell the instructor and take the chance of being branded the school snitch?
c) Tell them that maybe they’re burned out from training and needs a “grappling vacation?”
d) All of the above

As much as I would like for the answer to be “d – all of the above”, I’m gonna have to stick with my outline and say “c – grappling vacation.”  And if you’ve been grappling for any period of time, you’ve felt exactly like the grappler in the scenario above.

Unfortunately, most grapplers don’t recognize the symptoms of “mat burnout” and just keep trying to push through it until they either get hurt while training or stop training completely.
So, just in case you’re not sure if you’re suffering from mat burnout, here’s The Wise Grappler’s “10 Signs You Need a Grappling Vacation!” Checklist:

You need a “grappling vacation” if:

1. You’re tired even before the class or workout starts.

2. You have to talk yourself into training (or competing) from the time you wake up that morning until you actually get to the academy.

3. You intentionally show up late for class and, once there, are constantly looking at the clock the entire time waiting for it to end.

4. You start thinking about how cool it would be to just go straight home to relax and watch anything on TV instead of training.

5. You look for any excuse (e.g. taking your dog to get a teeth cleaning or you forgot to wash your kneepads.) to get out of training.

6. You’re happy when a holiday, special event, or tournament happens so that the school will be closed and you don’t need an excuse to skip training.

7. You can’t catch opponents with your go-to techniques because your movements and timing are off.

8. Your body’s sore all the time, even though you’re not getting ready for an event.

9. Classmates that you usually perform well against or dominate are kicking your butt all over the mat.

10. When you think to yourself, “It’s finally over, now I can get the heck outta here and go home!” once class is over.

During my grappling journey, I’ve experienced many of these signs myself, but refused to take time off to recuperate. For some foolish reason, I used to think it was better to train with a miserable mindset than to rest and give both my mind and body a chance to rest.  Once I discovered that taking a couple of mini-vacations during the year helped my grappling, I stopped fighting it and learned that taking a mental rest break is just as important (if not more important) than a physical rest break.

So, stop making excuses for not training (e.g. you didn’t train because your gi is dirty) to justify to others for skipping class. Take your “grappling vacation”, and watch how being physically and mentally rested will put you back on track to achieving your grappling goals!

10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Have a good rest, Jonna. Jiu-jitsu will still be waiting for you when you come back. 🙂

Comment by leslie

Thanks a lot Leslie! I will surely be back on the mat, who knows, maybe sooner than I thought 🙂 My coach told me, you can take a person out of BJJ, but you can never take BJJ out of a person.

Comment by jonna

Lots of of guys write about this issue but you wrote down some true words.

Comment by WemoFoerrax

Maybe you should switch to Gracie Jiujitsu. It is not a sport Jiujitsu so no competition. You could even start a Gracie Garage! see http://gracieuniversity.com

Comment by Anil Philip

Thanks for the link, will check it out 🙂

Comment by jonna

Enjoyed reading your blog, I can relate to the latest post a lot. You seem like a really cool chick 🙂

Comment by steve

Thanks Steve for your kind comment 😉 Have you taken a break as well? I hope to be back to training soon! I miss sweating and my sweaty teammates 🙂

Comment by jonna

I feel like I need bjj therapy. I can totally relate, I just made my decision to take a break the other day.

Comment by Jeremy

Hey! Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I’m sorry you’re leaving BJJ, but I hope you come back to us! I’ve enjoyed reading some of your posts. Yours was one of the first women-in-BJJ blogs I ever found.

Comment by Julia Johansen

Hi Julia! I am coming back to BJJ for sure, I just need to sort some things out in my life 🙂 I actually miss it already! Thanks for reading, and happy training! 🙂

Comment by jonna

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