For anyone who has been away from training for as long as I have, just over a year, the greatest challenge is not finding the cardio to train again, the mental preparation to role, or the general conditioning to play the game; it is to find the courage to take that first step back onto the mat.
I took time off training to focus on my two children, my new and demanding occupation, and to keep my house in order. I sacrificed more than just BJJ, I played a role that sacrificed a little bit of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. Anyone who is a dad gets this; you give up and you grow up. It is tough.
A few weeks ago I made the decision to start training again; life had given me a reprieve. I admit my head swam with difficult thoughts:
- I am going to embarrass myself? A blue belt with a dreadfully rusty game, no gas, and pathetic conditioning.
- How will my classmates react to 'that guy' coming back to class?
- How will my Professor respond to my coming back?
- Am I going to get hurt?
- What if something else comes up in my life that forces to me to leave again?
In the end I decided that 90% of all of these thoughts could all be rationally dealt with if I simple tossed my ego. My ego is gone. I am not who I once was. I am clay.
So, decision made, I started my preparation to get back to it. Simple stuff, but necessary to re-enter:
- Get some of my cardio back; running, riding, stretching, and some BJJ specific strength drills.
- Get my head back in the BJJ mind set; I watched training videos, competition videos and consumed my library of notes and written materials.
- Mentally played scenarios in my head at bed time. *This was an important one.
- Set a goal for a date to return.
My first class back was everything I thought it would be. My classmates were welcoming and generally awesome; as I remembered. My professor was kind and helpful. My physical preparation allowed me to go through the motions without getting too winded. And I at least had the stamina to play a somewhat defensive game for a few roles.
Now to re-build. A couple months my cardio and conditioning will be back. And most importantly: I can re-build my game and sharpen my technique.
On a separate note... It actually feels good to have blisters, bruises, and pain all over the place once again.