"Hey Raf, I think it's cool that you're doing this, but have you built in rest days into this at all?"
The following inquiry comes from one young Eric Medina of The Los Angeles Jiu-Jitsu Club. As I work up my reassuring answer ("yeah, of course I'm going to build in some rest days"), I also can't help but remember that this happens to be my seventh straight day of training jiu-jitsu when he asks me this question (four of which have been spent on this #HybridWrestlingChallenge).
And the question does not come without legitimate concern. Eric, The D'arce Knight, a guy with a strong wrestling background in his own right, is making sure that I don't burn myself out. His knowledge of the toll the sport can take on one's self is far superior to that of my own and the truth is: he's not wrong.
In the few short days that I've taken up this challenge, I can feel the strain the wrestling has put on my back. I know I have to be smart about it. I know that if I'm not smart about it, it will mean more time away from the mats (which, in turn, will drive me even more crazy).
As I revisit this question a few days after the fact, I can appreciate the concern expressed by my good friend, even if I don't really like taking time off all that much. And yet, here I am writing this to all of you on my third day off from jiu-jitsu training.
It's the longest block of time I've taken off in over a month's time (I spent a good portion of the month of June and July amping up my training to be competitive for my podcast co-host Kevin's visit a couple weeks ago) and I'm hating every second of it. I know the recovery time is good for me, but I can't ever seem to convince my heart (or my brain, for that matter) that this is time well-spent.
I keep thinking there's something I could have been working on, drilling or even trying to implement during live rolling that might better myself today, foolishly convincing myself that my one day off of the mats might possibly hinder me from making some kind of breakthrough.
Of course, I know that real breakthroughs present themselves over time (and that the law of batting averages for being present for training tends to speak well on my side). The hard part for me to reconcile is the fact that I always feel that I have to work 3x harder than the average individual just to keep up with the rest of class. My progress never tends to come fast, and I often struggle with new concepts or moves. For me, I know that the only way I ever stand a chance of getting better is by just showing up. When I don't show up, I feel like I'm just watching the rest of the jiu-jitsu world continue to pass me by.
I know they tell you not to compare yourself to others and that everyone's journey is unique, it just never feels good to watch yourself develop slower than others. You can tell yourself the axiom that we're all on a unique journey a thousand times, but it can still be utterly debilitating to a person whose only skills are showing up and giving their best effort.
So the real struggle, I find, is to find a means that of disassociating hard work with the need for rest.
Which is why I spent the better part of the day mentally drilling.
What I mean by mentally drilling is making the most out of my time off by watching YouTube videos, watching old tapes of my grappling skills, and charting out new plans.
With the Hybrid Success Challenge, I find myself at the forefront of a new challenge that is entirely foreign to me. I spent the past days discovering small things that I can improve upon and trying to identify small things that I can do to implement change. Another part of my mental drilling this week included watching the entire first disc of Justin Rader's Hybrid Success Formula DVD. In it, I identified the next chapters I will choose to attack.
Mainly, single and double leg takedowns.
I have outlined what I'd like to do and it is my hope to be able to implement at least one or two of those things during live training over the next seven days.
Come back over the next few days to see how it all plays out.