An injury or overtime at work, time away for family or vacation. Every journey has it’s ability to take us from our hands-on BJJ training. This can leave us frustrated, fearing our progress stops the day we stop training. And although our breaks from BJJ might be involuntary, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As a farm field needs to be left to recover, we too need to rotate our fields of life to avoid depleting our soil in a particular area. Our sport is strange in that we don’t have an off season. Life will impose off-seasons on us whether we accept it or not, but to consider it a crop rotation makes it a part of your training.

Relieving the constant physical pressure and associated hormonal stress spikes. Removing the “busyness” of constant mental stimulation and exposure to new and infinite information. Lifting the ongoing pressure of our emotional domestication required in every roll.

A break allows our body to recover from the usual physical bangups and restore depleted energy reserves.

The settling of the mind allows for better clarity of what remains when the constant stimulus is removed. Our brain keeps processing what’s left, working to understand the Jiujitsu ideas, and can better do so when it’s no longer receiving new information to distract it. This mostly unconscious distillation of thought is like “sleeping on it”. Our conscious conceptual daydreams conduct practice runs with reinforcing repetition to keep ourselves in the game.

Emotionally, a step away can invigorate. Depending where we are, the heavy task of keeping our emotions in check can be tiresome, and some time away can help shake the feels out, balance ourselves and chill our fight or flight response. For others, stepping away reminds us how BJJ trains our intuition and empathy, mental toughness and courage. For others still, a break away reminds them that the habit of training keeps us moving, and occupies a place in our lives that would otherwise be filled with unwelcomed habits, relationships, or idleness.

We see people return from a decent break, a week, month or 6 months, and actually come back more effective while rolling.

As sports have seasons, our ambitions should also have off seasons. Refresh, distill, rest and rejuvenate. We rotate our crops like our ambitions. A cabbage farmer is a cabbage farmer, even in seasons with no cabbage. And the next season producing cabbage will be more bountiful than if they’d force grown through the rest year. But like a farmer proudly overseeing an “empty” field, we should see our “non-training” days as our crop rotation, creating a rested and fertile environment to learn faster when the seeds are sown again. When the fields are empty we should tend to other tasks and ambitions, and work on the other indirect work that goes into the usual plant/protect/harvest. Is this your time to cross train? Travel? Home remodel?

Obviously, a fertile mindset and field won’t last forever untended, as weeds and replacing distractions will begin to occupy the fresh space and time, so the breaks shouldn’t be longer than necessary. Farmers do need to plant, tend and harvest to complete the farmer’s cycle, as a grappler must show up and train during our seasons. When you’ve returned from injury or vacation or the time is right, get back to what you love. Return to the mats when you can, and in whatever capacity you can, with a fresh and fertile mind. On the mats, and in life.