Jiu-Jitsu: Taking time off from training

Anyone who trains seriously will inevitably at some point get sick, injured or otherwise is unable to train. If you’re anything like me, you’d love to train three times a day if you could, but are limited by your own human frailty. The experience of having to take time off of training can be both troubling as well as refreshing. Its affect is very interesting.

For starters, if you train seriously to compete, chances are you don’t have a whole lot going on outside of BJJ. BJJ often becomes a primary hobby, there may be other things you enjoy doing, but to actually get good you’ve got to invest a lot of yourself. When things get tough and you’ve got to take time off, initially you’ll feel like you’re missing out or like a major part of yourself has been excised.

The thing is, time off can actually be good. Training seriously puts your body through a lot of wear and tear and time off can allow more healing that you normally get. Very often, our minor injuries/aches and pains mask each other and we don’t even realize that we are living day to day in discomfort. That said when you take time off try to see how each joint feels after a day then again after a few days. Learn how long it takes for things to reach some sort of equilibrium.

Psychologically, time off can be helpful. My coach Pablo Angel Castro III describes it as a sort of hunger that we develop. When we come back after a week or two off the mat, we may be hungrier than before, hungry for the limbs and necks of others, that is. For this reason, it may be smart to take the week before a tournament to build up some of that hunger. I personally prefer to train all the time…

The more we train, the more difficult time off becomes. People who train twice a week may not miss the mats as much as someone who trains fulltime. However, we do a physical spot and inevitably will experience injuries. It is often smarter to take time off to allow an injury to heal than to continue training through that injury as it can cause other injuries to arise or exacerbate the existing injury.

For these reasons, it is smart to find ways to maximize the efficacy of time off both in healing and in preparing us for return. It can also be a good time to evaluate other possible hobbies as an alternative to Jiu Jitsu, as not everyone can train full time, and there can be other things in life.

Training becomes so integral to life that time off will inevitably feel worse than it is. I find myself missing training even on the off rest day. So when I have to take time off due to illness or injury it can be hard.



Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/


  1. Time off is an opportunity to invest time in things that are often neglected when in the throes of full on mat fever (ie family time, reading, other hobbies or passion projects). It is also a good time to invest in ancillary practices that may improve our BJJ that we don’t always make the time for (pre-hab/re-hab, meditation, yoga, other sports/conditioning).


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