Time Off

Don’t let your time off the mats, effect your time on the mats.

Hi guys, just a quick intro about me, my name is Maks Szymanski and I’m currently a blue belt under Paul Severn at Checkmat in Worcestershire (like the sauce). I’ve been given the opportunity to write for Roll Models, as well as my own blog, so I thought today I’d write a quick blog about a few things you can do with your time, when not on the mats due to injury.

The last few weeks I’ve had an unfortunate bout of Cauliflower ear, following a few drains and compression it kept reoccurring so a trip to A&E was for a small incision, some packing, draining and cartridge removal, this was sorted. However, following the few weeks off I then rolled over my hand shooting a double leg and broke my first metacarpal in my hand (which I do not recommend), which
means 6 more weeks off (which I am currently 3 weeks into).

So a little bummed out about not being able to train, I decided to pick myself up and concentrate on what I could do to make my return to the mats that much sweeter.

1. Take notes

Regardless of ear gate and hand gate, I’m still attending every class as I would normally, but instead of a Gi on and a belt around my waist, I was Ipad in hand, taking notes of the techniques shown as well as analysing peoples rolls. One of the downsides to training consistently is that you don’t get a lot of time to sit back and watch other people from an analytical point of you, it’s been great to watch my training partners from afar and see what they’ve been working into their game. It’s also been beneficial for my wife also who trains. It’s been easier to see what she’s getting good at and what she needs to work for her up coming comps. I feel that eventually if I want to teach or corner people in competition (which I
do) this side of it has been essential to my jiu jitsu knowledge

2. Strength and Conditioning

My time away from the mats has given me more time to focus on my strength and
conditioning, which ultimately goes hand in hand with jiu jitsu. I play a lot of top game at the moment, a lot of pressure passing, a lot of attacks from side, mount and back. So upping my strength a little more than usual certainly wasn’t going to be a bad thing. More sessions in the weights gym downstairs from our gym, more deadlifts, benches and squats whilst off with my ear, when the hand injury struck I was more cardio focussed which will go hand in hand with my game when I return to the mats in a few weeks.

3. Research, research, research

Visual training has been incredibly beneficial, at the moment I’ve been researching a lot more into passing the guard, rather than playing guard, which I did for the last few months of my white belt. Leandro Lo, Galvao, Ffion Davies, Marcel Garcia and Rafa Mendes have been circulating my dropbox and my youtube playlists for the last few weeks, as well as studying the passers at my gym. As mentioned before, you also cant go wrong with reading and Podcasts, just from a general interest point of you studying the guard passing chapter of ‘Jiujitsu University’ has been super helpful, as well as listening to Dan Strauss’ podcast with some of my favourite jiu jitsu practitioners. As I prepare for my return to the mats and easing myself into it I’ve started researching going back to my guard and trying to combine the two into a well rounded game.

4. Rest

Lastly, one of the most important factors, rest. I train a lot, no questions there, with multiple hours a week of jiujitsu and multiple hours of strength and conditioning a week, it’s been nice to give my body a rest. I’ve felt any niggles in my body, (mostly my fingers and shoulder usually) have been give a well deserved rest and are back to 100% ready for my first classes back to the mats. It’s also given me a bit more time focus on my other hobbies and passions(dungeons and dragons, yes I’m a big nerd) as well as being a bit more over conscious about my diet whilst not training as much.

So, ultimately, injuries are not ideal, however they can be beneficial if you make them beneficial. Being more proactive off the mats when injured is certainly better than thinking negatively about them, at the end of the day Jiu jiutsu is a martial art and a combat sport with a very high injury rate. In my first few years of doing it this has been the only major injury set back as yet, so I’m certainly grateful for that. However if you are sat out for a few weeks or even months, I can recommend concentrating on the points I’ve talked about above to make that time off better and most importantly, your time back better too!

Currently a blue belt under Paul Severn at Checkmat Worcester, with a love for coffee, Dungeons & Dragons and over the top heavy metal.

picture of author Luke Spencer

Maks Szymanski

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