Life Gets In The Way

This post was sent to us from a long time student and brown belt Nick Collins. He's in the uber-typical boat of being madly in love with BJJ, while having to juggle it with spouse, child, job, and other grown up stuff. He talks about the the way he keeps all the plates spinning. Check it out.

Those who know me know that my attendance at the gym is not spectacular.  Those who don’t know me, you don’t know me because my attendance at the gym is not spectacular. Over the past 6 years that I’ve been a student at The Academy (six years?!?), my attendance has been spotty at best.  Even early on before the wife, house, and child, I trained 3 maybe 4 times a week.  But as life’s responsibilities added up and I moved further north, my training time took even more of a beating.  I still managed to earn my purple belt, and then I bailed.  I was in a major training “valley” (see Jay’s post on peaks and valleys) and instead of reassessing my training and goals, I pulled the chute and left the gym for a year.  I’ve been back for a few months now and I am paying the price for my time off.  Leaving for a year was a bad choice, but this post isn’t about that.  It’s about coming back and some of the things I’ve been doing to try to accelerate my return from the world of suck.  Grappling is a perishable skill after all.

My in-the-gym training time is still very limited, but I want to make progress, I want to improve, I want to perform like a purple belt again; so what to do?  Train outside the gym.  Think of it as homework, but the fun kind.  Nothing replaces time in the gym with a great coach, great training partners, and live rolling, but there are things you can do at home to help improve your game when life gets in the way.  Note: NONE OF THIS IS A SUBSTITUE FOR GOING TO THE GYM, just a supplement.

1.     Drill the basic movements

a.     Get on the floor and bridge, hip-out, hip-in, etc.  You can’t practice these movements enough.  Drill them over and over, and when you are sick of it, do a few more.

2.     Review the curriculum/watch tapes/drill individual techniques

a.     Get on the floor with your curriculum and go through each technique slowly, imagining (visualizing) where you make contact with your opponent, where your weight is, etc.  This is an opportunity to really think about the details of the techniques

b.     Break out your Soneca DVDs (you have at least one right?) and find ONE technique.  Look for a technique that is applicable to your game or a spot you get stuck in.  Drill that one technique over and over and over.  Watch other tapes, online videos, etc.

3.     Shadow grapple

a.     Again, get on the floor.  Start from wherever and visualize a match, working from the start through to a finish.  Go at whatever speed is necessary for you to perform the techniques correctly.  Don’t just think about you; think about your imaginary partner.  Allow your imaginary friend to stuff one of your techniques and then counter.  Make these as complex as you can, not just pass the open guard, hop to knee to stomach, finish with a spinning armbar.  Be creative and visualize.  Your imaginary friend should be pretty good so you don’t walk right through him/her.

4.     Visualize

a.     Where to begin...just type “imagery in sports” into the Google and see what comes up.  Visualization works.  Still not a substitute for live training and coaching, but a great supplement.  We’ve all done it, laying in bed at night after circuit training trying to figure out how the hell Scott escaped your stack pass and landed you in a triangle.  I still get lost trying to visualize some of the basic positions that tells me I don’t truly understand those positions.

b.     Incorporate visualization into all of the above.  When you are drilling basics movements, understand why and visualize the application of the movement.  When you are shadow grappling, visualize your opponent, like playing a game of chess against yourself.  Focus on technique and the fine details, not speed.

5.     Workout and read the blog!

a.     If you access to weights, get on The Academy S&C program.  If not, check out the many websites with bodyweight only exercises.  Jog, sprint, climb trees, do push-ups, squats, sit-ups, pull-ups, shots, whatever.  Just keep moving!

b.     Read the blog and revisit the older posts.  There are so many good posts covering everything from S&C, nutrition, goals and attitude towards training, techniques, and motivation; it’s an excellent resource, use it.

I’ve said it three times already but it bears repeating, you’ve got to get into the gym to train with non-imaginary people.  But when circumstances get in the way, or you want to accelerate your development as a BJJ practitioner, consider incorporating some of these supplemental tools.