An article on BJJ: The Problem with Full Steam Ahead

This is an article given to me by my Sihing about starting slow when you start BJJ. At the time, I was going full swing and would be burning out constantly. I was stubborn as a young student, but this article made it pretty clear on how to start and build up to the level I wanted to achieve without putting my full force in every session. Now I can train for long periods of time after building up slowly and intelligently. Enjoy.
The Problem with Full Steam Ahead 
Jiu-jitsu is such a cool sport that it’s easy to get carried away in the beginning and go way too hard and train way too often.  If you’re just starting, and especially if you’re not in great shape to start with, then it’s probably best to only train two or three days a week (at least initially).Once your body becomes accustomed to grappling, and you get a better sense of how long it takes you to recover from training, then you can boost how often you train.

The reason I’m recommending this is because I’ve seen the following scenario too many times:

Someone starts training, and hits it hard right off the bat.  They go to class and train like a madman for 5 or 6 days straight.

Then they’re so sore that they have to take a whole week off.

When they come back they’re full of apprehension, but grit their teeth and train hard anyway.  After three days of training they get injured and have to take another whole week off.

Next they’re only training for one or two days a week, and before you know it they’re not training at all

Overtraining in the early stages is understandable, because BJJ is a lot of fun (especially when you’re not all beaten-up and sore). Another factor that causes people to go too hard initially is that they may be getting misleading information about how to train by listening to professionals describe their routines.

If you watch UFC All Access it’s easy to get the impression that you have to train for 8 hours a day to make any progress in combat sports.These are professional athletes at the peak of their sport.  They DON’T have full time jobs, other than training.  While in training camp they eat, sleep and train – that’s it.  Many of them are also taking ‘supplements’ to train harder and recover faster.  By ‘supplements’ I mean steroids and other banned substances.

Also consider the possibility that a pro-fighter might be motivated to impress his fans and intimidate his opponents.  This leads to some creative story-telling about how often, how long, and how hard they train.

So I’ll be the one to tell you: “no eight hour training day for you!”

Learning jiu-jitsu is more like a marathon than a sprint.  Pace yourself at first so that you can go hard later on.
You want to do it right the first time, not get sick, demoralized and injured.    Like the tortoise and the hare, you’ll get there faster if you make haste slowly.
Stephan Kesting