When you're bitten by the 'jiu jitsu bug,' it’s easy to feel like you want & need to train as much as possible to improve as fast as you can.
But, is training as much as possible really the best way to improve? And if not, how often should you train?
The truth is, it depends on your goals, needs, and your limitations. But here are some guidelines..
I recommend that all new students train two times per week for the first 30 - 60 days. During this time, his or her body and mind are getting acclimated to jiu jitsu. Even those students who come into jiu jitsu in decent shape from running or weights have to get used to the demands of jiu jitsu. Its simply a "different" type of in shape.
Two times per week will also help a student's mind to get used to the terminology, the flow of the drills, the structure and pacing classes, and the physical contact with his or her training partners.
In the early years at URSA Academy, before I had this 2x per week recommendation, I had some students who would capitalize on the new student excitement and train 5-6 days per week at the beginning to try to fast track their progress and maximize their results. I even had a guy we called, "2 a day Sam" because he trained 2x per day, 6 days per week. But unfortunately, I started to see a pattern that every single person who trained 6 days a week either took really long breaks at about the 3rd or 4th month, or quit altogether.
What's the use of 'fast tracking' your progress in the beginning if you're just going to quit after you get in the swing of things?! The truth is that everyone has a life outside of jiu jitsu. Even me. Jiu jitsu is my passion, my stress relief, my workout, and I'm lucky enough to say, it’s also my job. But that doesn't mean that I can spend all day, every day training and expect to get the best out of myself every session or every roll.
After the first 30-60 days, I typically recommend training 2, 3, or 4 times per week in our advanced classes for our average students who have chosen to make jiu jitsu a healthy hobby, stress reliever, and workout. That allows enough time throughout the week for rest, healing, and downtime, while still getting enough mat time. The key here is training hard on your consistent training days.
At URSA Academy, I encourage my students not to take breaks between rolls. I tell everyone to 'roll until they are done.' If thats 2 matches, great. That's good for the day. If it’s 8 matches, do it. But, do 8 in a row. Don't roll 2 matches, then sit for 3, then roll another one. Roll until you are satisfied with your training and done for the day. That's the best way that I've found to get the most out of every session.
I've found that my students who train using this method 3 days per week progress at a faster rate than those who train 5 days a week but don't push themselves through to the end. So, it’s not always about number of days on the mat, it’s about the quality of the reps, drills, and rolls when you're on it.
For students looking to compete, I recommend upping that schedule to 4-6 days per week 6-8 weeks before the tournament. After the tournament, drop back to your long term sustainable schedule, whatever that may be for you.
Long term sustainability is really the name of the game in jiu jitsu. Anyone can train like a beast for a couple of months. (I did it at a few different points in my jiu jitsu journey when I was working towards a specific goal, like right after I got my purple belt, and at times when I was dealing with a lot of stress in school.) But on the whole, training should be PART of a healthy, active, and balanced lifestyle, NOT your entire life.
To see the most results as fast as possible, work with your Professor to create the ideal schedule for you, based on your goals, and your other responsibilities and stick to it. Be consistent. Be realistic with your time, your body, and your expectations. And most importantly, realize that nothing about jiu jitsu success is fast. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the ultimate 'marathon.' The road to black belt is long, but it’s worth it.