The entire jiu jitsu community has been impacted by COVID-19, and the “jiu jitsu life” as we know it, has come to a screeching halt. Schools and gyms across the globe have been forced to close their doors, major events and tournaments have been cancelled. Any hopes and dreams of winning titles or medals in 2020 are out of grasp. A wrench has been thrown into our training regimens as we are ordered to shelter-in-place, forced to take a break from our jiu jitsu-norm. Now we are faced with the challenge to “stay ready” for returning to jiu jitsu, while not being able to train jiu jitsu. It’s easier said than done, but we need to dig deeper than our favorite choke (high-elbow guillotine in my case), be disciplined, and come out of this in the best shape possible, physically and mentally stay ready.
Keep your mind fresh. Stay committed to learning. Just as you were committed to class weekly, learning new technique, drilling then rolling, commit yourself to improving your jiu jitsu while at home. Luckily, there's an abundance of resources online and the jiu jitsu community has been extremely supportive and giving. World renowned black belts such as Caio Terra, Lucas Lepri, John Danaher, and Bernardo Faria have released free content and tutorials online. Without a doubt, take advantage of the opportunities to learn from these high-level jiujiteiros. But before you click on that link to learn how to pass guard like Lucas Lepri, study yourself. Ew, I know. If you’re like me, you just cringed at the idea of reviewing your own content. But be a big girl or guy and pull up that last match you had at Worlds, or the last clip recorded of you training, watch your movements in detail (ugh), and study your own game. Whether you won or loss, how could you have done better? Address your weaknesses, notice your strengths, take notes, how can you improve? There is always more to learn, from others, and even from ourselves. Keep your mind in the game, don’t get stale!
Stay in grappler-shape. But first, build a program. If you're accustomed training at noon and 6pm, then get active at noon and 6pm. Create a plan and stick to it. Calisthenic and plyometric exercises built into a HIIT workout (high intensity interval training), will keep your cardio and strength up to grappler-par. And the best part is that you don’t need weights or equipment. Solo jiu jitsu drills and movements should also be integrated into your workouts to keep you sharp. Try these exercises and add means to progress each as needed.
1 minute rounds, AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of the following:
Squat jumps (progression: add pulse squats - jump, squat, pulse squats, jump)
Push Ups (progression: plyometric push ups)
Sprints (progression: increase laps and speed over time)
V-ups (progression: dragon flags)
Pull Ups - grip of your choice (progression: change it up to a more difficult grip, increase reps over time)
Figure 8 Bear Crawls (progression: increase laps and speed over time)
Plyometric Bulgarian Split Squats, 1 min on each leg (progression: add weight, holding your Costco sized laundry detergent will suffice)
Repeat all until you can't.
If you're lacking motivation, watch that clip of you're last competition or comp training one more time...
Nourish your body. Did you ever complain about not having time to meal prep, track macros, count calories, create a meal plan, or take supplements? Now there’s no excuse, for once, time is on our side. Do your research, download that fitness app/calorie tracker, count your macros (and micros!) and create a nutrition plan. I’m not saying you can’t have ice cream for dinner, but be mindful of how much you eat (or don't eat) and what you’re consuming daily. It adds up, and it adds up quickly! Don’t let the next blog you read be: “How to Lose the Quarantine Fifteen”.
Take supplements. Everyone can benefit from supplementation. Our bodies have needs for nutrients that we’re not able to meet by consuming food alone. Meeting these nutrient needs are necessary for immune function, energy production, healthy blood, bone health, muscle growth and strength and etc. But they also do more than fill in the gaps, there are supplements that can help make our bodies resilient to injuries, or even heal existing ones. For one, turmeric is a proven anti-inflammatory that helps joint pain such as arthritis. It might help you hang onto that gi grip a little longer the next time.
Rest and re-set. This time off of the mats might be a God-send if you were injured or planning to take a break. Listen to your body, you may need to make this time be about healing. Rehabilitate as necessary, pre-habilitate to prevent future injuries.
Don’t limit this to physical rest. Sometimes our minds need a break or healing as well. Work on your mental health and strength, consult with a professional if needed. Plan to do at least one thing every day that makes you happy. If you’re feeling alone, take initiative to connect with your friends and teammates, remember we’re in this together.
Don't stop. Remind yourself of all the reasons you started training jiu jitsu and why you love it. Think about the people you've met, the friendships you've made, and the training partners, teammates who have become family. Dwell on the hard work, sweat, tears, and blood that you’ve put into this journey. Keep these at the forefront of your mind, along with the titles and medals you dream to achieve. You can come out of this a new and better version of yourself, or you can remain the same. Or even worse, you could regress. In time, we’ll all be back to our jiu jitsu-norm, training and competing. The mat will tell us who stayed ready.