If you’ve been away from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a while, it can be tough to decide if now is the best time to return.
It’s natural to be anxious and nervous about going back to BJJ after a long break, but the rewards of returning are worth it!
At some point, most Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners might be away from the mats, either by choice or by circumstances.
Usually, this is because you might prioritize other goals, get distracted, get injured, or a global pandemic shut down all gyms forcing you to have a long layoff from BJJ.
Whatever the reason, the fear of returning may keep you away from getting back into BJJ shape. However, you are missing something amazing if you don’t return to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
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Should I Go Back To Jiu-Jitsu?
Short answer, absolutely! If jiu-jitsu is something you genuinely enjoy and are passionate about before your long layoff, you should go back.
There are several advantages of training BJJ.
- It’s a fun way to get in shape and stay in shape.
- It helps you build confidence.
- It allows you to meet interesting people.
- You become more resilient.
- Your problem-solving skills will grow.
- You’ll feel comfortable performing under pressure.
These benefits help you be a better person overall. Simply put, you will develop multiple diverse skills useful in everyday life.
If you once experienced all those benefits, why not go back to BJJ after a long break? For anything that we consider important in life. There is always time, and there’s always money. You will always find a method to make it happen if you genuinely love it.
You Never Trained A lot Before A Long BJJ Layoff
If you have never felt the power of training Brazilian jujitsu, you need to ask yourself how you felt when you were learning.
If you never engaged with the Jiu-Jitsu community in the first place, you might not even miss the practice that much. Which makes it significantly harder to return after a long layoff.
However, all the benefits that we talk about above still apply to you. It would help if you negotiated with yourself to define how much of your own leisure time or your projects you are willing to give up to give Jiu-Jitsu a try.
Most practitioners of the gentle heart will tell you that sacrificing some personal projects and some leisure time is always worth it.
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How Long Will It Take To Get Back To BJJ Shape?
The honest answer is that it depends on how long you have been away from training and your dedication to your practice. But, you can go back to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu shape faster if you’re dedicated enough.
However, set realistic expectations for yourself. How fast you get back into BJJ shape will depend on how you handled yourself during your time off the mats.
If you’re relatively young, with good genetics, and you’re in optimal shape for BJJ, then it might only take a week or two to feel like yourself again.
On the other hand, If you’re older with little athleticism or your lifestyle isn’t conducive to physical activity, getting back into BJJ shape might take a few months. Your body needs to get used to training again, and your mind as well.
What If I did nothing?
If you did nothing, ate lots of fast food, and neglected other aspects of learning the gentle art like books, solo drills, and video tutorials, it might take you on average 1-3 months to feel like yourself again.
Bear in mind that regardless of what you do. Your body needs to adjust again to the hardships of training. Above all, the best is to be patient and embrace the “always a white belt” mentality.
How Do I Return To Jiu-Jitsu? – Tips To Comeback Like A Pro
Many people make the same mistakes when going back to BJJ after a long break. They train too hard, too much, and too soon.
The urge to come back is so strong that you might be willing to do anything to speed up your return. This may lead to a few weeks of intense training or even injuring yourself while trying to overdo it.
That’s why you should try to ease yourself back into training. Your body and mind need a chance to recover from the long BJJ layoff —you might need more time to get back in shape than you’re willing to give—, but it will also protect you from injuries that may occur if your body isn’t ready for that kind of intensity.
Here are some tips to follow when you return:
1 . Start Slow
Don’t push yourself too hard, both physically and mentally, especially if you’ve been out for several months. Start with a few sessions a week and build up to 3-4 sessions the following days.
Some people are more athletic than others and might push for 4 to 5 sessions in their first week. For the average BJJ practitioner, this is not realistic. Pace yourself. Be careful; old injuries might come back.
2 . Stay Active During Your Time Off
Remember that preserving your BJJ conditioning is essential. If you’re really out of shape, your return will be slower.
Without regular conditioning workouts, it’s almost impossible for you to maintain adequate performance when returning to the mats. However, you can do so much more than just cardio. Great options include:
- Jumping rope
- HIIT workouts
- Lifting weights
If you were severely injured during your time off, don’t miss our guide about training Jiu-Jitsu even with a torn meniscus. You might find some inspiration there to keep your conditioning on point until it is time to return to the mats.
3 . Don’t Neglect Your Nutrition
Make sure to eat the best you can during your time off. Most people balloon when they’re not training BJJ because they eat junk food and other unhealthy options.
If you don’t replace those calories with healthy ones, you’ll gain weight for sure. Try taking a walk every day, and find low-impact exercises you could do 5 or 6 times a week.
It is easy to give up your nutrition when there are no consequences on your performance. Try your best to stay on track. The keyword here is moderation.
4 . Know Your Limits
Set realistic goals for your return to BJJ. If you plan on competing again, make sure to do so gradually. If you’re training with a partner or training in a class, be wary of how much they throw at you during your first session back.
Don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t be afraid to take breaks in between rolls if that’s what you need.
Furthermore, it is never a good idea for you to roll with your ego. This is extra relevant if you’ve been out for a while. Check your ego and acknowledge when you need to stop.
No one at the gym will judge you if you can only do one round or two that day. Put your well-being first.
5 . Keep Learning And Studying Bjj During Your Time Off
Stay engaged and keep learning from other people. You can accomplish this through books, videos, and even online forums. It will make the time go by faster, and it will also allow you to keep improving your skills in between training sessions.
John Danaher has a helpful solo drills tutorial that he released during the COVID-19 lockdowns for free. If you’re not injured, buying some second-handed mats to keep training at your pace isn’t a bad idea.
You can also make your mats, and it might be an inexpensive option to keep your solo drills going. Another great alternative is to create an improvised grappling dummy or buy one.
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High-intensity BJJ Training After A Long Break
Suppose you’re planning on trying between 5 and 6 BJJ sessions a week after being away from the mats for a long time. Consider the following tips.
1. Prioritize your sleeping schedule
You’ll be putting a lot of stress on the body. It would be best to sleep enough to recover from all the training hours. If your schedule allows it, take a nap. There are no wrong answers here.
Some people like one hour, some people 30 minutes. You’ll recover faster if, on top of your 8+ hours of sleep at night, you can add some more thought to the day.
BJJ in the morning might help you fall asleep easier. Many people have trouble sleeping if they go to roll until too late at night.
2. Eat Enough Calories
Most people would gain some weight if they had to stop training BJJ. That’s normal. If you decide to return with an intense training schedule, you might feel tempted to eat less to cut weight faster.
This is counterproductive at this stage. Your primary focus should be eating nutrient-dense foods to give your body the right building blocks to recover from all that time on the mats after a long break.
3. Stretching and Foam Rolling Daily
If you take a long pause from BJJ training, your body will be tight and sore if you have an intense training regime on the first week.
For example, If you play guard a lot, your back will feel uncomfortable all day. Regularly stretching and using a foam roller will help your body reset and allow it to recover quickly.
You can’t skip this stage. Listen to your body; after a few stretching and foam rolling sessions, you will feel fresh and ready for more.
Can You Forget Jiu-Jitsu?
If you trained long enough and felt proficient for your belt, got a few stripes, and submitted people. No, you won’t forget the underlying principles of BJJ even if you’ve been off the mats for months or years. Chances are you’ll be ok rolling again.
However, you might forget some details about techniques, but once you’ve seen them again they’re all there. You might even remember more than you thought. The core principles of BJJ you’ll never forget—and the ones that will make or break you on the mats— are:
- How to remain calm.
- How to control oneself regardless of the situation.
- How to use one’s mind to anticipate your opponent’s next move.
If you forget them in your first few weeks back, it’s not because they’re gone forever, but they might feel like new and need some time to sink in. That doesn’t mean they’re not there anymore.
What To Expect After A Long BJJ Layoff
If you’re planning on going back to BJJ after a long break, here’s what to expect.
Try to be realistic and consider the long BJJ layoff before you start. Many people underestimate how much time they need to get back in shape and become frustrated with themselves for not following through with their training schedule. After A Long Bjj Layoff, you can expect:
- You won’t be able to roll for as many rounds as you used to.
- You’ll be tired even after light classes.
- Your cardio won’t be the same.
- Your body might not move as freely as it used to, but you’ll start to feel much better movement after a few weeks.
- You’ll feel motivated to get back into Jiu-Jitsu shape as fast as you can.
- You might take more classes than you can handle (be careful).
- Your awareness while rolling might be better than you thought.
- You might still be able to tap a few people.
- You will find lots of new faces at your gym, so make new friends.
- You may forget a few details of your techniques, but chances are they’ll come back to you.
Before you start to train BJJ again, consider these factors before you jump in.
For the most part, the best way to get back into shape after a long layoff is to ease yourself into it slowly—periodically taking days off from training if needed—and keep calm.
Final Thoughts On Going Back To BJJ After A Long Break
If you want to get back into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu shape, don’t rush it. Start with a few BJJ classes a few times a week, and gradually build up your training sessions as your body becomes accustomed to the intensity of the workload.
Make sure you eat well and stay active during your time off. Stay engaged by studying other Jiu-Jitsu folks or even checking out videos online.
If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend that is thinking about going back to BJJ after a long break.