Jiu-jitsu gyms around the world are temporarily closing due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. If your BJJ academy has been among those affected by concerns about the virus, it’s understandable that you may be a bit bummed out over losing your training environment. But don’t just lie on the couch and subsist solely off ice cream and potato chips — there are still ways to expand upon your jiu-jitsu knowledge and stay in fighting shape so that you can return to the gym without feeling like a day-one white belt.
1. Learn new techniques online.
There are so many resources out there for learning jiu-jitsu online that there’s really no excuse to return to training without new knowledge if you have an internet connection. BJJ Fanatics, of course, has a seemingly endless supply of high-quality instructional content that you can download from anywhere, and Keenan Cornelius (who made the tough choice to close his own gym, Legion AJJ, yesterday) has his Lapel Encyclopedia that you can learn from as well. And of course, there’s a whole world of free jiu-jitsu techniques out there on YouTube; Lachlan Giles, Kent Peters, Alec Baulding, Jonathan Thomas, David Morcegao, and Drew Weatherhead are a few of our personal favorite online instructors who have put out a lot of great zero-cost videos, but there are many more great coaches out there just waiting to show you what they know.
2. Practice solo drills.
While jiu-jitsu is more fun when practiced with other people, you can still drill movements and techniques in the comfort of your own home. There are a surprising number of solo drill videos out there (again, available for free) that you can do in the comfort of your own home. It won’t give you the same experience as, say, rolling to the death with ten different people at open mat, but it will at least give you a way to practice moving your body in a way that’s conducive to progression in jiu-jitsu.
3. Stretch and do bodyweight exercises.
Keeping your body flexible and strong is going to make your transition back to jiu-jitsu so much easier when your gym opens again. Jiu-jitsu is basically just Danger Yoga anyway, so just take the danger out of it and practice some yoga on a daily basis. If you’ve never done yoga before and have no idea what you’re doing, well, you guessed it — there are lots of free YouTube videos out there just waiting to show you the ropes. This 20-minute yoga program for beginners is a great place to start!
Remember also that even if you don’t have access to weights or other fitness equipment, you can still do bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, burpees, and core work so you don’t lose all your muscle mass during your time away from the mats.
4. Ask your coach about online video lessons.
Some academies are going to continue teaching their students, just not at the gym. JT Torres, for example, has an online program that he’s offering for free to his students while his academy is closed. Consider speaking to your own coach about potentially offering a similar service during the time the gym is closed. Not only can this help the gym retain students and keep them from freezing their accounts, but it can also give you and your teammates fresh learning material that stays in line with your academy’s curriculum.
And of course, if you can, try to avoid canceling or freezing your gym membership. Your academy owner still needs to pay the gym’s bills, and if students begin freezing their accounts, there may not be a gym to return to by the time the academy reopens.