Recently I took two weeks off from training due to work and family commitments. Initially, I felt really guilty about taking the time off. I mean if I took the two weeks off that would surely undo the 10+ years of training right? What if during that two weeks someone got instantly better and could now manhandle me? What if during those two weeks I missed some groundbreaking technique that my coach was only going to show during those two weeks? If you spend any time in a jiu jitsu gym I guarantee that you will hear someone either comment on how much they train. What you won’t hear is a lot of people talking about needing to take a break. In this post, I want to talk about some of the reasons why I think taking a break is a good idea for your body, mind, and social life.
Your body needs time to rest
As much as we would like to ignore it, jiu jitsu is hard on the body. The minor aches and pains can add up over the years and we never fully recover because we don’t slow down and rest. Taking some time off allows your body to heal itself which is important for longevity in the sport. I have seen too many people not take rest breaks and exacerbate injuries. Make sure that you take care of your body. Once your body goes your time on the mats is over.
Your mind needs time to rest
Mental burnout, in my opinion, is worse than physical burnout. When your brain feels overloaded it is easy to become unmotivated. Taking a break from jiu jitsu allows your brain time to slow down. I have also found that taking time off has helped me refocus on what I want to work on. The idea of absence makes the heart grow fonder definitely applies to jiu jitsu. If you start to feel like training is becoming a chore that you don’t want to do anymore try taking a few days off. Chances are you will come back from your break more motivated to ready to train than you were before you took the break.
Your social life needs time
If 100% of your job, family, and friends are somehow closely associated with jiu jitsu this may not be super important to you. If you are like me your job, family, and friends are not closely associated with jiu jitsu. In fact, I’m guessing that at some point your love of jiu jitsu has caused conflict with one of these groups. Unless you are prepared to say goodbye to them it is important to balance your training and your social life. Making time to spend with friends and family is super important and can have a positive impact on our life. Jiu jitsu doesn’t feel neglected if you don’t train. Your friends and family do though if you start missing out on important events. The main reason why I no longer coach on a consistent basis is doing so would mean that I miss bedtime with my kids. As much as I love coaching, I love my kids and know the importance of being there for them during bed time.
With all that being said you do want to be careful about how much time you take off. Taking a week or two here or there is good for you. Taking a month or a few months off could lead you down a dangerous path where you do not return (aka Blue Belt Syndrome). So make sure you are taking breaks in your training but don’t make them too long. You can’t earn your black belt if you never show up!