Whether it’s due to a holiday break, a family vacation or travel for work, there will be times when you won’t be able to get to class. Serious students are often asking us, “what should I be doing in order to keep my practice going if I’m away from the school?”
The truth is that our methodology is unique – BBJJ’s cooperative, proactive learning environment is one-of-a-kind. Our core philosophy is about fostering growth by providing the supportive, non-competitive conditions that allow you to train for the long haul.
So when students ask about “dropping in” to other martial arts schools, our answer is always the same: “don’t”.
There are tons of reasons, including:
- poor instruction and supervision
- competitive/arrogant/”macho” training setting
- unprofessional, unregulated training sessions
- unhygenic mats and facilities
- aggressive, uneducated training partners
- exposure to diseases like staph, MRSA, ringworm, impetigo and mat herpes (if this isn’t enough to dissuade you, you might have mental problems!)
- risk of injury (your own or others)
- violation of martial arts protocol
- dissolution of student-teacher relationship
- and many more!
Concerned yet? Over the past 20 years of training, we have both seen and heard evidence of all of the above. We’ve watched students and peers who “knew better” or thought they were taking an acceptable risk, only to find their progress physically or mentally disrupted because of one of these circumstances.
The sensible approach is not to put your progress – or your instructors, training partners and dojos – at risk.
You can minimize the chance for injuries, bad experiences and (ugh) diseases from unclean schools or mats by focusing your training energy elsewhere when you’re not at home to train.
BBJJ Training Log: Well, you can start with our training log. The BBJJ training log has been designed specifically for you, when you are away from the school. It takes some of the most important solo drills from class and organizes them into an outline so you can still condition your body using martial arts means. These are a selection of the most important developmental skills you can have for longterm success. And the work of practicing them alone is an exercise in self-discipline.
Plus you only need a small area in your hotel room to keep yourself physically connected to the movements you’ve been learning in class.
Gym Workout: Another great idea is to workout in your hotel. If you’re traveling, you’re likely to have a small but functional gym in or nearby where you’re staying. If there isn’t one in your hotel, do some research before you get there and see if you can find one within walking/shuttle/driving distance. Pull-ups, pushups, sit-ups, dips and a treadmill/elliptical can provide a great fitness routine without your even having to use weights.
Use Equipment: Two things you always have room to pack are a jump-rope and a resistance band. Most students already know how to jump rope from the Muay Thai classes here, and it’s something you can do inside or out. 10 minutes on the rope a day and you’re cardio will improve…guaranteed! In addition, a small resistance band can be attached to hotel furniture or trees outside, providing you with opportunities to work the core, upper body and lower body as well.
Bodyweight Exercises: If there isn’t a gym nearby (or time to get there), use yourself as resistance. You’ve seen dozens of pushup and sit-up variations in class (and if you’ve been paying attention, you might just remember them!). With a chair or some well-placed end-tables, you can do a wide variety of squats, dips, sit-ups and pushups.
Run: If all else fails, run. You can always use your time away from the dojo to concentrate on cardio. Every hotel, cruise-ship or vacation place has somewhere to run, even if it means wind-sprints in the hallways. Stairwells are a place for stair-runs or -walks, and even plyometrics for the adventurous (be careful!).
Mental Work is Work: Read. Choose a book related (or even unrelated) to your martial arts journey and study. Even better, bring the message of the week with you. The martial arts is not just about physical improvement, but also about developing mental discipline and emotional strength. Reviewing the lessons of training – and some of the recent tips about the BBJJ philosophy – will keep you connected to the martial arts life. And by the way, you don’t have to be away from home to do this one. Its good practice for all of us each week.
Rest and Recharge: Remember that a little rest is a good thing sometimes. If you’re training as hard as you should be regularly (3 times per week), then a trip out of town for 3 or 4 days can be a chance to rest and recharge. You’ll be reinvigorated when you return.
Above all, plan ahead and be creative. Worse than doing nothing on a vacation or a break is doing something that will set you back in training. You don’t need to take unnecessary risks, or endanger the physical or mental relationships you’ve built so far. Reading and studying may not seem like the best substitutes for being on the mat, but they give you a well-needed perspective on the work you’re doing in our classroom.
Give your body something to do, keep your mind focused and prepare to return to class as soon as you can. That’s the sanest, safest and most sustainable approach to personal and holiday breaks.