Three Ways to Keep Motivated When Forced from Jiu-Jitsu for an Extended Time

Three Ways to Keep Motivated When Forced from Jiu-Jitsu for an Extended Time

As much as we enjoy Jiu-Jitsu, we all need a break sometimes. When it’s our choice to step away from the mats, we accept these breaks as a healthy part of the journey.

Yet there are times when we are forced away from Jiu-Jitsu for an extended period. Maybe we needed more balance in our lives. Maybe a major injury snuck up on us. Or maybe you are stuck in a once in a lifetime (we hope) pandemic.

When the opportunity to train jiu-jitsu is ripped away from you, it can be frustrating. Trust me, I know. A week or so after receiving my blue belt, I broke my arm in the first match of the first tournament I entered at the new rank. A week or so later with a fresh metal plate in my arm, I had every reason to quit the sport. I was in my mid-30s with a rising career trajectory, a great wife, and two dogs to keep me busy. I’d had a good run of tournament wins as a white belt. I’d definitely earned my blue belt and took pride in that accomplishment. There were other, less risky, hobbies available to me. So why keep with it?

Day-after-day I was forced to sit and wait for a doctor to tell me I could train again. Even though large parts of my situation were out of my control, I focused on what I could control. For anybody suffering the way I did, here are three ways to keep motivated while waiting to return to training:

We gravitate to Jiu-Jitsu for various reasons. Maybe we tire of the treadmill to keep us in shape. Maybe we enjoy the camaraderie we’ve built outside of work and family. Maybe we thrive off the mental and physical challenges presented through a combat sport. No matter our reasons for enjoying this pastime, but Jiu-Jitsu will be there when we are able to return. Take comfort in this thought.

Jiu-Jitsu can be supplemented and enhanced by a variety of physical skills. From circus-like flexibility to crushing strength, we naturally use physical attributes in our Jiu-Jitsu. Yet there are physical features we wish we could add to our repertoire. This is the time to work on them. Pick up some kettlebells or grab a balance board or start working on your hip mobility. This is the perfect opportunity to add a new, healthy and positive habit to your daily routine.

As I sat on my couch, my friends and teammates traveled to the IBJJF Pan Championships. With a slice of pizza in my hand, I made promises to myself. Upon my return I pledged to travel for Jiu-Jitsu reasons – attend a Jiu-Jitsu camp or compete in a “major” tournament or simply do IBJJF Opens in random, interesting cities. I made big goals for myself once I healed. Why? Because what’s the worst that can happen…I break my arm and am stuck on the couch for a month or two? Now is the time to really think about what you want from your Jiu-Jitsu journey and when you return, that’s the time to follow through.

It’s not easy to sit at home, unable to train. It’s worse when extraneous factors force you into that situation. There’s only so many solo drills to do, matches to study, or podcasts to listen to. Yet you can use this time away to reinvigorate your passions and refocus or re-evaluate your Jiu-Jitsu goals. When you are able to return, you’ll come back with a tenfold fire in your belly.

Tom is currently a purple belt at Buckhead Jiu-Jitsu in Atlanta, GA under Sam Joseph. In his free time he enjoys travels with his wife, Jiu-Jitsu, and better incorporating the two.

You can find out more about his adventures in Jiu-Jitsu on Instagram.