Robert Drysdale: “What You Do With Your Free Time Speaks Volumes To Who You Are As A Person”

Robert Drysdale is one of jiu-jitsu’s most renowned practitioners. The ADCC and IBJJF World Champion is also the founder of the Zenith affiliation, and if there’s anyone whose life revolves around jiu-jitsu, it’s his. As it is for many other grapplers, this mandated time away from training due to COVID-19 is affecting his life.

Drysdale is “trying to make the best out of a bad situation,” by utilizing his free time wisely and electing to focus on activities that he feels are fruitful and productive. He suggests using this time to do the things that you never get to do. “What you do with your free time speaks volumes to who you are as a person,” he told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “What you are doing with all that free time, that is who you are. Are you the person who is going to read a book? Or are you the person who is going to be on your phone all day?”

Drysdale admits to indulging to a certain extent, having spent some time playing video games, but remarked that he was prompted to do an “identity check” during this time and note the actions that he feels will better serve him and be a better use of his energy. “I don’t want to be a slave to my phone. It allows people to interrupt your day at any time they want.” He says he checks his phone about once every three hours and otherwise exercises discipline to not be on it all day. He has been spending a lot of time reading, getting work done, focusing on projects and keeping busy. He is also creating online classes to offer to his students and has extended resources from his website to his students so they can stay engaged. 

He spoke largely about how this is a unique time to practice discipline. He suggests to competitors that they “study their losses, study their opponents, read the IBJJF rulebook,” noting that few competitors take the time to study the rulebook or read additional resources. “There are a lot of ways to improve jiu-jitsu from home. Training is the fun part — we like to do what’s fun, but that isn’t being disciplined. Discipline is doing what you hate.” He urges jiu-jitsu practitioners to focus on the things that are going to improve themselves and their game. Robert also encourages students to practice visualization. “If you can’t do it in your head, you can’t do it when you go live.”

Drysdale was also very candid about realizing this level of discipline is a mental battle, and that it’s easy to choose to sit and watch TV for hours, but that’s not going to result in growth. This time is a test of mental strength. “Part of me wants to play video games and watch a movie, but the better part of me wants to read a book and improve myself.” He says that thousands of books are obtainable online now, many for free, and that is the type of content and exercise our brains crave. 

Drysdale remarked that his years of dietary restriction are behind him. “I made weight for 20 years. I’m done with that.” That said, he still spoke of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. “Eat less if you are working out less. It’s not so much what you eat, but the quantity you’re eating.” 

Despite everything going on right now, Drysdale is hopeful that the gyms won’t be closed for a prolonged time, recognizing that jiu-jitsu is such a community sport. “The gym is a community. We all miss that now.”

How are you using this time away from jiu-jitsu? Let us know in the comments.


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