_ To most that train BJJ, it is oftentimes more than a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Of those that train, nearly all strive to someday achieve the level of Black Belt. The idea of the Black Belt demonstrates that a practitioner has reached a superior level in his or her respective art. Years of sweat are poured and countless hours are spent on the mats to achieve this belt. So often we often spend so much time training, thinking about the latest techniques, strength and conditioning programs and anything else that will take our skill to the next level that we lose sight of what we do to our relationship with others. In writing this post, I would like to try and convey the concept that although a Black Belt is a sign of excellence, this idea should be carried off the mats and outside of the gym as well.

                     Inside of the Gym/On the mats:

1.)    Be a good training partner- By allowing your partner to train in an injury and ego free environment you give them a greater opportunity to improve their skills.

2.)    Support your Gym/Academy- By doing this all members may feel more like a team/family. Also most gyms should be somewhat of a support system for their students, so why not give back and do the same for your gym? This can be in the form of attending gym events, competitions, or just helping out with cleaning.

                     Outside of the Gym/ Off the mats:

1.)    Be relevant to your family- Depending on situation of course, be grateful to the people that brought you into this world and if you have your own family, be relevant in their lives. Don’t be the person that can’t spend time with their loved ones because their too busy training.

2.)    Be a role model- be a person that others can look up to, not because you do Jiu Jitsu and people are afraid of you, be someone that everyone can respect. We always hear the question “What would you want to hear people say behind your back?” well I would hope that everyone would like to hear good things.

3.)    Volunteer- Get out of your comfort zone and do things in the community. Not only would you be helping your own community and possibly a good cause, studies have shown that volunteering may also increase years in life J

What sparked this idea was actually a Facebook post by University of Jiu Jitsu and their Silver Star patch.

The meaning of a Silver Star for Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu:

“The Silver Star is the highest decoration award from the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association. You can achieve it by showing great competition skills, by being a role model student, supporting in projects, being a RJJ representative School or giving extraordinary contribution to the Jiu Jitsu World.
_In conclusion, regardless of what ranking you are, strive to be a black belt on AND off the mat.
_ With the World Championships coming to a close just this past week, it may be true that many BJJ practitioners are now focusing on smaller tournaments, watching film of their fights from Worlds (in other words, refining their technique) or possibly taking a short rest from training. Wait, what was that last point? Taking a break? Most of you may be thinking, who would ever do such a thing? Although some may believe that it is a myth, overtraining is a phenomenon that can occur. BJJ may be to some a chess game in a sense, possibly an art form that is gentle in nature, because after all, BJJ is both, but it is also like every other martial art a physical activity. With that being said there can be a time when an individual may become overwhelmed with their training or maybe even burnt out. Though taking a week off may seem impossible, it may prevent an injury from occurring or maybe even help improve your game. Here are some tips to avoid overtraining:

_ 1.)    Be aware of the FITT principle- Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. This is in regards to exercise and a good strength and conditioning program will look at each to allow for proper times of hard training and recovery periods as well.
2.)    Mix up your training- This could be in a form of cross training. You can add some different things other than jiu jitsu. These could be things like biking, hiking, swimming, running, etc. Just to mix up the routine a bit and avoid a monotonous routine.
3.)    Taper- When training for a competition obviously everyone will be training hard. But knowing when to begin tapering or in other words lessening your training can be crucial to your success. For example, a half marathoner will have long runs of 10-15 miles 2-3 weeks from their race, but after will lessen their distances to 6-8 to allow for proper recovery.

_ To many these tips may seem irrelevant. But the take home message here is to take time to recover. If you show any signs of overtraining, whether it be loss of interest in training, feeling sluggish or your becoming ill more often than usual, etc. Try some of the above mentioned tips or try taking a few days or possibly a week off and come back to the gym; you may see some huge improvements in your game.