Dad’s are people too, and we deserve to enjoy BJJ as much as the 20 year olds who give us a hard time on the mats! All joking aside, Jiu Jitsu really is for everybody and anybody. Being a dad and having all the extra responsibilities off of the mats that come with fatherhood can make training difficult to pursue. If you keep the tips from our Dad Jitsu series in mind, you should have the edge over all the other mat-Dads out there!
5) Safe Sparring
There’s no escaping it, fellow dads; if you train Jiu Jitsu, you’ll soon learn that sparring (Jap: Randori), or “rolling”, is a fact of life. Sparring live with training partners is the most important part of your BJJ development, and it is also what separates Jiu Jitsu from other martial arts. If you’re not careful with how you approach rolling, it could get you or somebody else hurt.
Set the pace early and stick to it! Too many new students try to explode into a sparring session only to get put into a bad position with little or no gas left. Adopting a “go with the flow” mentality and pacing yourself will allow you to see openings that you might rush past if you’re going too fast. You’ll probably end up in a bad spot at some point, you might as well save some energy for trying to escape!
Don’t go for broke! Chances are if you’re newer to the art, you’re not going to be pulling off that sick move you picked up from Youtube over the weekend. Instead, pay attention to what’s happening and see if you can recognize a pattern in your sparring sessions. It’s hard to pay attention when you’re singularly focused…be all seeing and watch the Jiu Jitsu that’s happening to you!
Ask questions of your sparring partners! Are you ending up in side control all the time? Do you know why? If not, it never hurts to ask your partner. By doing this, they’ll appreciate that you are acknowledging their efforts and you are showing that you are a thoughtful classmate, trying to study Jiu Jitsu rather than blast your way through it. Only good can come from it!
Tap early and tap often. Unlike in the UFC, tapping out on the mats in your Jiu Jitsu classes is NOT losing. There are no titles to fight for and no one is counting. Seriously. If you feel you are in a bad spot and someone is squeezing your neck or yanking on your arm, tap quickly to get out of trouble and start all over again. I’ve found it helpful to consider every tap a “success”, meaning that every time I tap now is 1 time I won’t have to tap in the future because I’m learning about that attack right now. Or put another way, if I’m going to tap to 5,000 armlocks in my training lifespan, I only have 4,999 more taps to go. That might sound a bit crazy, but keeping a positive mindset can actually make tapping enjoyable!
6) BJJ Community
Everybody is talking about the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle. “Are you living the BJJ lifestyle?” is a headline I’ve run across a couple of times. There are websites dedicated to it even!
Being a part of the BJJ community simply means be cool to all your training partners and fellow classmates, no matter their rank; show beginning students and senior instructors the same respect and they’ll show the same to you; if you compete, be courteous to your opponents and the entourage or gym they are from; remember that growing in Jiu Jitsu isn’t an isolated experience, you are growing with the people around you, and if you’re getting better it’s probably thanks to them; encourage your training partners when they are sore or tired, they will do the same for you!; let people know that you train Jiu Jitsu, because you never know when you’ll bump into someone else from another academy at a party or get together…you’ve now made a friend for life!; participating within this community will have a positive effect on the rest of your life, through the exercise, diet and shared hardship/growth, the benefits are almost never ending.
Being a dad involved in Jiu Jitsu doesn’t have to be difficult, it just takes a bit of tweaking in certain areas of your life. Perhaps only one or two of these suggestions will work for you, maybe none of them will! Whatever the case is, please remember that BJJ is meant for everybody to ENJOY. Each of these 6 steps has helped me on my path as a husband, father and student of Jiu Jitsu, I hope it will do the same for you!
See you on the mats!