GB Student question “Get back in shape before going back to Jiu-Jitsu?”

For Jiu-Jitsu students looking to make a return to classes after an absence this is a common question.
Your bjj training may have been interrupted for any number of reasons – work demands, exams in school, recuperating from a training injury, the birth of a new child in your family and so on. And at the time of this writing, your Jiu-Jitsu school has likely been closed due to Pandemic.
The causes of your cessation of training might be different, but the concern is similar – the fear that you’ve lost all of your skills and especially your physical conditioning – and when you return you will get tapped out by everyone and gas out within minutes of sparring.
Also, completely new students considering taking up Jiu-Jitsu experience nervousness about starting in a new athletic activity and will hesitate to get started by saying “I just want to get in shape first!”
Is this the right thinking for those who have trepidation about coming back to Jiu-Jitsu after an absence or the case of those with no previous grappling experience?
Not really. I saw one Jiu-Jitsu meme say “Saying that you are waiting to start Jiu-Jitsu until you are physically fit is like saying that you are waiting to start school once you are smart enough!”
All humor aside, the truth is that the BEST way to get in shape for doing Jiu-Jitsu is actually… doing Jiu-Jitsu!
Now we aren’t saying that being in good physical condition isn’t important. We see a concerted effort by Gracie Barra students all over the world –  on social media during this quarantine – to stay active at home through online classes, solo drills and home work outs. Staying physically fit is important not only for your performance in Jiu-Jitsu but also for your overall quality of life.
Each unique sport has its own specific types of fitness requirements. Just because you are very fit in one sport doesn’t mean that your fitness will translate directly into an unfamiliar activity. We have all witnessed very fit individuals from boxing or basketball or distance runners try rolling in Jiu-Jitsu and quickly become completely exhausted. They are undoubtedly fit, but in an unfamiliar activity, they tense, hold their breath and quickly become overwhelmed by lactic acid.
So, what is the best way to approach getting back into (or starting as a completely new student) training after an absence?
Just get started. It is as simple as that really. Don’t over analyze it. You don’t want to procrastinate for a month while you “get back in shape.”
Just get your gi on and get going to class.
Now if you have been completely inactive for a prolonged period of time, that first warmup might be an uncomfortable reminder of your current level of fitness. But your body will quickly remember and adapt. You will likely be astonished at how you start to remember your movements and techniques.
It is important to set your expectations to just go at your own pace for the first few classes. Trying to jump right back in at full speed might well have the effect of discouraging you. You have been away for a while so allow yourself some time to get back in the groove. Do what you can.
Monitor muscle soreness as to whether you have adequate recovery. Take that few extra minutes to do your stretches. And work within your capabilities. That way, you know you can recover in time for the next class.
If you have been paying attention to clean eating and staying active as a regular part of your weekly routine, it will be just that much easier. The most important thing is to just get going in there!
Welcome back to class!
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia