Dad-Level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
My life has gone through a lot of changes in the last few months, becoming a dad being the biggest one. Looking back at the amount of hours I have spent on the mat this year, it is a fraction of years prior. I have been averaging two BJJ sessions a week when I used to train more in a week than I now do in a month.
Somehow, though, I feel I am in the best shape I have been in a long time. So here is what has been working for me:
- More no-gi training with no-gi specialists after years of heavy gi training
- Cardio work on a rower, ski erg, and bike erg
- Ongoing mobility training and exercises
- Continuing my keto diet and mixing in intermittent fasting
After taking a break towards the end of Hillary’s pregnancy, and 6 weeks off after getting my nose fixed, I have been training twice a week, mostly no-gi. I have been in a rut on my gitraining, and I have been really enjoying training no-gi at the nearby 10th Planet gym. There is something about training with people that train no-gi every day. Zach and JM have a gym full of killers, and I have been picking up new tricks. After ten years of BJJ, I have added some rubber guard to my game, and I have been submitting people from the gogo clinch.
My schedule rotates from week to week as Hillary and I alternate nights, then swap each week, so we are not always training on Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday. We do our best not to drag our kid to the gym. When we are traveling and have no other options, he hangs out in his car seat for awhile at the edge of the mat, and then we take turns taking care of him while the other one rolls. I have even taught class while holding him.
Since my mat time is so limited, I have put some serious effort on working on my cardio. I wrote an article on my fascination with the Concept 2 rower a little while back, and since then I have added a Rogue Echo bike and the Concept 2 ski erg and bike erg. I continue to use the programming by Justin Farina, whose mantra is “engine first.” His program develops both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
As I close in on my first year of this kind of training, I am amazed by how much my cardio has improved. I can push as much as I need, and I can roll as long as I want. The last time I felt this way I was training every day and was constantly injured. Today, I am doing a much better job moderating my training intensity, mostly longer aerobic sessions on the rower and biker erg with some anaerobic work on the Echo bike and ski erg on non-BJJ days. Since the training is so low impact, I can recover much better.
I have continued my work on mobility, usually around 6am when Leo wakes up and I put him on his jumper to get the wiggles out, and I am feeling the best I have in a long time. I continue my work with FRC concepts as well (read Matt’s blog about it here). And recently added some animal flow training before my cardio sessions. If you look up #animalflowon Instagram you will find thousands of videos of mobility flows using some basic, and sometimes more advanced, drills. You will recognize some of these from BJJ warm ups or Alvaro Romano’s “gimnastica natural.”
Diet wise, I am still playing around with the ketogenic diet. I will probably write a standalone blog about it eventually. I am nearing 40 pounds of weight loss, and I just ordered some A2 gis and 34” size shorts since I have been feeling like I am wearing my big brother’s hand-me-downs. Also, we started working on intermittent fasting. Eating our last meal, sometimes only meal, at 2pm is much easier—less planning/cooking/cleaning. Being able to come home, shower, and not worry about eating has been blessing, especially since there is always something the little one needs.
Looking back at my training, I realize I am far from the competitor I once was. I have come to terms with being a “hobbyist.” I still can hang with tough competitors but am happy to be out of the crazy grind it takes to compete at a high-level. Cleaning out my diet has been huge, since I no longer burn through my bad food choices with crazy training volume. Besides the odd bumps and bruises I feel great and have the energy to play with Leo, and hopefully chase him around once he starts walking.
My life is changing, which life seems to do, and I’m doing my best to embrace that change. Yes, it meant adjustments and having to rethink my routines and my relationship to jiu-jitsu, but I have found that embracing the change in this way has made my world much better.