One thing I’ve gotten in the habit of in jiu-jitsu (and other sports) is “saving myself for next time.” In the context of jiu-jitsu, that means taking breaks during open mat to catch my breath, or maybe even rolling, but finding opportunities to rest during the roll. I seem to wrestle with (no pun intended) two questions after this happens:

  • Am I cheating myself out of the experience? – This is something I think about a lot. We only have a limited amount of time to train each week. I am guilty of going to Saturday open mat and rolling from 11 AM to noon and leaving an hourly early so I don’t burn myself out the rest of the day. Even though “the rest of the day” usually involves a nap. 


  • How will I ever know my limit, if I don’t push myself – I started training for a half marathon and early on the program called for a six-mile run. I thought it was a misprint and protested the validity of a program that thought I should be able to run six miles within the first four weeks of the program. The point is, I’ve been in a routine much of my life where my brain says “that’s enough” and I immediately stop. There are plenty of people like Cameron Hanes and David Goggins that tell you to “callus your mind” and “keep hammering.” My mind is a lot of things, but I wouldn’t call it callused. 

Understanding Your Limits

In 2016 Jon wrote about how taking rests while rolling and sitting out can affect your progression. It’s a great read and really hammers home the answer to my first question that I am cheating myself out of experience. 

That’s not to say you should ignore your body, especially if you’re coming back from an injury, or an extended break from jiu-jitsu. It’s important to find a happy medium between testing your gas tank and taking too many breaks. Take it slow though, and listen to your body. Sometimes you might have to “roll to last” just don’t make it a habit.