Playing The Long Game

When you step onto those mats for the first time, I think very few realise just how long the road ahead is. Or just how much of an emotional roller coaster the journey will be. I have found as people progress, the tendency is to be come very short sighted regarding their development, sometimes at the expense of our training.

At 10 years + for the Black Belt, that is a lot of hours on the mat and it doesn’t all go our way. We train well and we train poorly (always embracing the good days, yet perpetually beating ourselves up on the bad). Life gets in the way, family commitments, passion waxes and wanes and then the is the dreaded demon… injury.

As one who has been plagued by injury for my entire training career and one that has been told by medical professionals on more than one occasion that I will not train again, I have developed a somewhat stoic perspective.

As I type this I have my hand in a thermo cast for another 3 weeks and then may face surgery. I have been off for 8 months with shoulder reconstructions and have had countless training injuries. But at the end of the day in a life long pursuit, 8 weeks off is a drop in the bucket.

Yes, you will lose some timing, not skill, generally, and if you do it comes back quickly and some degradation is un-avoidable in time off. SO we can see this as an obstacle and stress and fret while we are off the mat, inevitable try to come back too soon and re-injure. Or we see it as an opportunity to research, watch and try to find other aspects we can look to improve. We can continue our presence at the gym, supporting our community and enjoying the support of the crew, or we can take the easy option of removing ourselves from the temptation and stay home.

It seems that most BJJ practitioners are fairly hard on themselves when it come to that time off and the feeing is that if we aren’t back as soon as possible, then we are deteriorating, which creates increased anxiety and the feeling that we need to train harder, which in turn, induces that tendency to re-injure and so commences the downward spiral….

Another and more sinister reason for pressuring ourselves is Ego… yes there is that word in relationship to BJJ again… but here I am suggesting that people will return to training too soon, or put unrealistic expectations on themselves and their improvement, just because they don’t want to their place in the hierarchy change.

We must be realistic about what is keeping us off the mat, really analyse how that makes us feel and honestly deal with it as objectively as possible. There are always others around us that have been through it and they are there to console and advise, assist and counsel, so use them to good effect.

Nobody like taking time off, or seeing their improvement slow, or sometime deteriorate. But we have to take the good times with the bad, the progression with some regression and the inevitable fact that life will get in the way of training. Treat this as another challenge, another guard to pass and the true test is how we deal with this obstacle… do we let is slow us to the point of quitting, or do we smile, persevere and try to see an opportunity to challenge ourselves and improve in a different manner.

2 thoughts on “Playing The Long Game”

  1. Although I’ve not been training long, I’ve been training with some pretty big disadvantages (spinal fusion cheif among them). I’ve never seen it as an excuse to do less, but it often holds me back.

    It’s really good to see these thought from someone who’s been training so long, and it’s me that little burst of motivation I sometimes need. Quality post Taff, I’ll be coming back to this one for a while.

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