Last night I had a dream about jiu jitsu. Bear with me – it’s not a weird and then I turned into a cloud dream. I dreamed that I was able to do BJJ remotely. As in both sides had video cameras hooked up, the grapplers would be grappling alone, but somehow the software could relay what the one was doing and would declare one a winner.
I’m not surprised I had that dream. Right now I REALLY WANT TO DO BJJ. But I NEED to recover from a surgery I had on Tuesday. Several months ago I noticed a bump on my back and had it checked out. It didn’t hurt, it was soft to the touch, it was just a bump. The doctors said it was nothing – just leave it alone. Fastforward to last weekend and it had gotten bigger and it was starting to feel a bit tender and hurt if I laid back on it. So I went into the Korean hospital and they traded: one bump for a scar and 7 stitches.
So now I have stitches in my back and am under doctors orders not to do BJJ for a month. No exercise for 2 weeks, no BJJ for one month. My game plan is to rejoin the class in 2 weeks, do the warmups (that don’t involve anything on the back), watch the technique and then sit out and do some solo exercises. I will also go and watch some classes.
At some point in everyone’s BJJ career they will have to take time off or not be able to train as much as they want. Whether it’s an injury or a cold or work or even a case like Meg’s ACL surgery, they will have to take time off. Mine is one month – Meg’s is 36 weeks. SPEEDY RECOVERY MEG!
A common forum post over at Jiu Jitsu forums and a common one is posting about injuries – torn ACL, foot injury, black eye. Being forced off the mats is not something everyone handles gracefully, and I want to focus on these common reactions and their underlying emotion, partly because these are very common reactions with white belts:
1. My instructor/teammates will think I’m not serious about BJJ
2. My instructor/teammates will think I’m lazy
3. I’ll lose my skillz
I believe these reactions are based on FEAR – more specifically, FEAR OF JUDGEMENT.
I’ll admit it – I care about what my instructor and teammates think of me. Even though I was the slow girl eating paste in class for a long time, I was consistent and showed up ALL THE TIME. When the instructor and teammates acknowledged that, I felt special and proud. When my work schedule changed and I was no longer able to come quite as much as I wanted, I was sad because I liked that feeling of pride and special-ness. What I’ve done to manage these reactions is to stay in touch – text messaging my instructor, communicating about my schedule, and updating on the group’s Facebook page.
If your instructors KNOW why you’re not in class and if they’re remotely empathetic toward you as a human being, they will understand. I’m an instructor. When someone shows up consistently late I think they don’t care. When they tell me they’re late because of their job, I empathize. I’m an adult and know that life needs often get in the way of life wants.
How many times have you heard white belts apologize for how much they suck? Are people actually afraid of losing skills (which can be regained) or are they really afraid that their teammates and instructor will think they don’t deserve their rank? When I came back after a break I found I was winded easily, I had claustrophobic feelings when someone would get me in side control, and it was frustrating. I felt like the white belts were looking at me and thinking “How the hell did this loser get her blue belt?”
Playing that game is a losing battle. Because for me, I’ll NEVER be good enough as I IMAGINE my teammates think I should be. Of course, it doesn’t help that we have several pro-MMA white belts at my gym, people who have more athletic prowess as a white belt than I’ll have in my life. I had to STOP. I had to focus on MY training, not their perception of my training. I had to remind myself that tapping is learning. That I’d come a heckuvalong way, baby. That bad positions are learning positions. That I just need to breathe and if I can breathe I’m okay.
I think it’s also important to remember – if you truly are in BJJ for life, one month, or even a year off isn’t going to truly matter in the long run unless you’re trying to be the world’s youngest blackbelt or win the world record for most competitions entered. There is this desperation quality that people get when they’re focused on IMMEDIACY rather than on long term.
Can you imagine people getting this freaked out about language lessons? Unless they had a specific trip they were planning for, there’s not a RUSH to IMMEDIATELY become fluent!
Manage your desires. Get a video or a magazine or a book and work it out. Do a little solo work. Woah – I just realized all this advice works for when your significant other is out of town as well. hahaha. Going back to training too early could result in a) longer healing time b) permanent injury c) infecting teammates (if you’re sick).
So are your life needs and BJJ wants in balance? Are you training as much as you would like? How do YOU manage when they get out of balance and life takes over? Have you ever experienced that fear of judgment? Share a story!