How do you balance everything in life so that you have a happy family, enough money, time for a job, time for BJJ, and enough time to rest? You don’t. Those are just too many variables, for one, and what’s more important, priorities shift all the time so there’s no way you’ll find balance once, and have it work for the rest of your days. It doesn’t really work like that. The good news is that you can figure out a BJJ schedule that will allow you to satisfy your grappling addiction, and leave time for, well, life, as well.
As a BJJ addict of the highest order, I can attest that Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t really leave much time for other things in life. That’s ok for some, but if Jiu-Jitsu is not your job, then, you’re probably in trouble. And that’s before I even start to mention family life and all the other stuff you have to deal with on a daily basis. Just to bring things into perspective, even gym owners and full-time coaches/athletes have other obligations outside the gym they also need to do shopping, do chores, wait in line for administrative duties, etc, etc. It is not like being on the mats is the only thing on their agenda. You just have to fit your BJJ schedule into your day, and not the other way around, if you want to be productive.
Fitting Everything In Your BJJ Schedule?
The one thing people try and do is fit everything into their BJJ schedule. That moment that the “nasty” BJJ bug bites you, everything else you were doing goes down the drain. If you’re not training you’re thinking about training. If you’re not thinking you’re watching BJJ DVDs, YouTube videos, or browsing Jiu-Jitsu Gis and rashguards. Not to mention all those enticing camp offers and the inevitable Joe Rogan Experience podcast which already has more episodes than a man can listen to in a lifetime. Where do you fit in everything else?
Fitting everything around BJJ is going to prove impossible and it may cost you dearly, even to a point that makes you start to hate Jiu-Jitsu. Blasphemy, I know, but it is how things stand. Instead of trying to make your universe revolve around Jiu-Jitsu, you should focus to insert grappling into your daily life. Think of it as greasing the groove.
“Grease the groove” is a concept used in strength training, one I first heard from Zach Even-esh. The idea is that when you can’t do a full training session you just do whatever you can throughout the day. If you see a pull-up bar you rack up a set or two of pull-ups and move on. Or, you do pushups next to your desk at work. You get the point. Well, you can do all BJJ related stuff outside the gym in a similar manner. Have a moment or two to spare? That’s when you watch your videos. Listen to the latest podcast while grocery shopping. Browse for Gis in the dry cleaners line.
The harder part of balance is training. This, however, is usually fixed in terms of the class schedule so you definitely know when it is coming. And still depending on what your job and other life obligations are, you could be open-minded about things and go to different gyms at different times so that you can do other stuff without BJJ interfering. While BJJ gyms are notorious for creonteism and keeping their “secrets” to themselves, MMA gyms are way more open and will provide you with a great opportunity to do some high-level No-Gi training. Just a thought.
A Moving Puzzle
Despite all of the above, you will need to keep a certain BJJ schedule if you want to progress in the art/sport. Training more than twice a week will require balancing. As I already said, though, that balance is going to be constantly shifting, and you’ll need to adjust stuff on the fly in most cases. Let’s be real, how many times has the perfect day you planned worked out exactly as you expected it? How would you expect weeks and months to go as planned then, particularly when BJJ is a big part of those plans? One injury can, not just derail your training plans and goals, but also interfere with daily life. So drop all the planning.
First of all, more hours in a day is not a possibility, no matter how hard you wish for it. So, you have to make do with what you have. Figure out priorities and make sure you finish them before you go for “leisure-BJJ” activities, the likes of DVDs, and endless chats about how you choked a blue belt out. If you’re training every day, this will be a must, so focus on three things that are priorities FOR THAT DAY. Don’t write them down, just do them, and you can then have a much looser BJJ schedule that will allow you to indulge in the Gentle Art.
Next up, don’t expect things to work out. Just like when you’re caught in mount, you‘ll have to embrace the suffering and discomfort, albeit in daily life instead of on the mats. Things won’t go as planned and you will miss BJJ classes from time to time. Unless you want a Danaher-like life, and you want a family, relationships, going out for a party night, reading a book, and other stuff, BJJ will sometimes have to make way, despite your most meticulous planning. Just remember to “plan” on the go if getting to the mats is really one of your priorities, and you’ll find much more success than with fixed planning.
Something you can bet on is that everything you do in life with dedication and focus will have consequences. In most cases, those are good ones, like getting better at BJJ, perhaps even starting to teach others and stuff like that. It is much the same if you focus on work, or your significant other – you’ll get great things in return on that front. However, consequences that follow are usually never only good or bad – they’re both. So, becoming a full-blown BJJ addict will take away from family time, job opportunities, that trip you’ve been aiming for, and whatever else comes to mind. There’s just so much energy you can spend, and focusing most of it on your BJJ schedule will have effects on other aspects of daily life.
Understanding that there will be consequences that won’t just be good is crucial for truly making BJJ a part of your life in the long run. It is all about balance once again, and the consequences you’re ready to endure. Is it ok if you spend less time at home as a result of becoming one of the top competitors in your gym? Is extreme progress and that next belt more important than a job promotion you might have coming up? You’ll encounter questions like this regularly when balancing your BJJ schedule and you better be prepared to answer them truthfully.
The bottom line is, you’ll have to make sacrifices if you want balance in your life. Sometimes, it going to be a date night. On another occasion, though it may need to be skipping class, or even a weeks’ worth of them. These are the sacrifices worth making so that you can keep up with your daily and BJJ schedule and make it all work. Daydreaming about BJJ when you’re at work, or a dinner party is a type of sacrifice that’s not worth making since you’re not getting anything positive in return.
We all have different goals in life, but trust me, making BJJ the only thing in life is quickly going to turn it into something you don’t quite enjoy as much. Find balance instead, and think about figuring out a BJJ schedule that’s not the sole focus of your day, every day. Do other things if you really want to become better at grappling and actually enjoy it for years to come. Plus, it is a lot more fun going through life with friends, a significant other, family, etc., than alone with your Gis. Consequences and sacrifices, remember?