Ebb and Flow
I apologize for the lack of posts but my lack of activity in the blog has been corresponding with my lack of activity in jiu-jitsu. Life has been crazy hectic lately with injuries and preparing a condo for sale (if you are reading this and might be interested in a 1br condo outside of Philadelphia, hit me up) and all sorts of other things that you probably don’t want to hear about.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my relationship with jiu-jitsu. When I first started training, I, like a lot of you reading this I am sure, was completely obsessed. I trained every day of the week, I felt guilty if there was a day I couldn’t train, the only thing I read, watched or thought about was training jiu-jitsu, the only time I travelled was for jiu-jitsu vacations. I own so many jiu-jitsu shirts that they took up an entire large box when packing up my condo. When I was in this obsessive compulsive training mindset, I had many people tell me that eventually I was going to slow down or my body would make me. Although I did get my fair share of injuries, it never slowed me down for too long and all I did was sit around miserably and wish I could be training.
During the height of my obsession is when I started reading, and eventually writing, jiu-jitsu blogs. Many of them I read from the beginning instead of jumping in at the end. After a while, I began to notice a pattern in some of the blogs I was reading. Many of the people would start their blogs while in a similar, obsessive love affair with jiu-jitsu. Of course this makes sense, most people don’t decide to write a blog about something they are neutral about. However as I’d read through the months and then years, I noticed that people would eventually stop being quite so obsessed with training everyday, often because of an injury but not always. Then the blog would change tone and the person would talk about having trouble getting back and then losing motivation to go entirely. Even though I had many experienced grapplers telling me I’d eventually slow down and I was reading the same in other blogs, I somehow thought I would be different. I couldn’t imagine ever not wanting to train all the time, so why was everyone talking about slowing down?
Well eventually I got a fairly serious injury (a herniated disc) which forced me out of training for a significant amount of time. It took almost a year to diagnose and treat and it got progressively worse until I could barely walk, let alone train. Once my back was feeling better and I could get back to training, I found it was very hard. The injury had taken a toll physically and I lost a lot of strength, my conditioning was awful and I had gained weight. In many ways I felt like I was starting all over again except now I knew what it was like to not be entirely awful which made it worse. Outside of the physical aspects, I also found that training had gotten a lot harder mentally. Once my life had to switch focus from jiu-jitsu all day every day, I found other things that I also enjoyed. I started hanging out with friends again (and not squeezing them in after training), I picked up new hobbies, I even started dating my girlfriend. So once it came time to go back to training, I found, much to my surprise, that I didn’t always want to go.
I still love jiu-jitsu and I don’t see myself ever stopping training (unless my old lady body completely falls apart) but I have a completely different relationship with it now. I find that often I have to talk myself into going to class instead of having to talk myself out of going to class (on the rare occasions I missed it). I am going back to the gym tonight for the first time in a month or so and while I am excited about it, I also am feeling sad that going to class means I won’t get home in time to spend significant time with my girlfriend or pets.
This month will mark my fourth year training jiu-jitsu. Our relationship started very hot and heavy. Jiu-jitsu quickly became my whole life and I was entirely consumed by it. But like any flame that burns too hot, it started to fizzle out. I do still love jiu-jitsu but it has become an aspect of my life and not my entire life. Most of the time I recognize that this is a healthier relationship with jiu-jitsu than I had before. I have things in my life besides jiu-jitsu and my world doesn’t completely stop when I can’t train.
In the end, I was not more dedicated or in love with the jiu-jitsu than anyone else and my obsession eventually ended. Redefining my relationship with jiu-jitsu over the last year has been very challenging and eye-opening. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder about what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten injured. Would I still be training everyday? Would I have a different belt? I look back at pictures of when I was at fighting weight and training was my whole life and sometimes I miss that person. I miss the obsession and how it fuelled my training. But then I look at the other things I have in my life now and I think that maybe that injury wasn’t the end I thought it was but the beginning of something new. I’ve come to realize that my relationship with jiu-jitsu is like any other relationship. It has to mature and change if it’s going to last in the long run. It’s been a hard process but I think me and jiu-jitsu will be together for a long time.