How coronavirus affects your BJJ journey

Like thousands of other martial arts academies around the world, Gracie Miranda is currently on hiatus. Even outside of government restrictions, with coronavirus spreading, it’s an unsafe time to practice Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. The health and safety of our members from all across Sutherland Shire is our priority.

If you’re a member of Gracie Miranda, or any BJJ academy, you may be wondering what to do now. We’re all off the mats for at least a few more weeks, and probably longer. What does this mean for your martial arts and self-defence journey?

There are ways for you to keep improving your BJJ game, even off the mats. But the important thing to know is that this is not the end of your time studying Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.

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Martial arts is for life

Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is unlike other martial arts in many ways. One of them is the length of time it takes to get a black belt.

One-in-a-million practitioners, like BJ Penn, can get their black belt in 3-5 years. Those with an exceptional capacity for grappling can get theirs in 7-10 years. But for the majority of people who sign up to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, it’ll take between 10 and 15 years to earn a black belt.

Many black belts go on to say that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu really begins at this point. White to brown is just practice.

The point is that BJJ is not mastered in six months. In the short term, it may seem disastrous to have to take 2-4 months off the mats. But in the long term, over the 10-15 years you’ll spend on the mats before you begin to reach your potential, it’s just a road bump.

Think long term, not short term. No doubt, it’s disheartening to not be able to train right now. We all miss it. But the time off won’t matter in a year. You’ll barely even remember it in 5 years.

From an emotional mindset, use this as practice. Jiu-Jitsu is a safe martial art, but mistakes happen and practitioners often have to take 1-6 months off to recuperate an injury or let their body rest. This too can be frustrating.

Treat this like you would suffer an injury: A hurdle, but one you can jump over.

If you’ve been training for any length of time, you’ve also seen others take time off, come back in 3 months and be better than ever 3 months after that. That’ll be all of us soon.

Improve off the mats

Even though there’s more uncertainty, the current situation is better than a break forced by injury for one reason: You’re not hurt. That means you can still do some training, even if it’s not at Gracie Miranda or your academy.

Think about this time off productively. If you’re lucky enough to have mats at home, you’ve got plenty of drills you can practice. Hip escapes, bridges, inversion movements: There’s a lot you can hone alone.

If you don’t have mats available, that’s fine too. How’s your cardio? How’s your core strength? It’s true that cardiovascular endurance doesn’t automatically translate to fitness on the mats. But it can help, especially if you’ve already trained martial arts for several years. There are also plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do to improve your explosiveness. It’s not lost time.

And don’t forget the power of visualization. It may seem silly, but studying techniques online and visualizing yourself doing them will help. No, it won’t be as good as training against a resisting partner at Gracie Miranda. But it will keep your mind on the mats, since your body can’t be. And studies show that it works, too.

Yoga for martial arts

Finally: Yoga. Don’t discount how helpful taking up yoga is for Jiu-Jitsu. Yoga is the martial art you do against yourself, says Roger Gracie black belt Nic Gregoriades.

There are three major ways yoga can benefit your Jiu-Jitsu game. Firstly, added flexibility can help you retain guard and helps greatly for injury prevention. Second, yoga is all about getting deep intro stretches and staying there. It’s about getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Sound familiar?

Last but not least, yoga will improve your breathing technique. You’ll learn to find a way to breath while contorting yourself in yoga. This will make it much easier to find a way to breathe when someone is trying to crush you from side control and other top positions.

Remember: We do martial arts for life, and this is just a temporary setback. We look forward to seeing you back on the Gracie Miranda mats soon!

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