BJJ Report: Training BJJ Safely During Covid - By: Jacob Knight
A unique perspective of how training BJJ every day was possible during a global pandemic.
About the Author: Jacob Knight is a 4 stripe BJJ Purple belt at Kaiju MMA In Tarzana, California under Professor Gabriel Ruediger. Jacob has been training 7.5 years and is currently pursuing a degree in Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College.
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Hello, I am Jacob Knight and this is and was my Approach to Jiu-Jitsu during the COVID-19 Pandemic....I hope this helps shed some light and provides some guidance and insight to how to make it work if your a BJJ addict like myself....
The date was March 11th, 2020. It was a relatively normal day. I had woken up, studied
for my upcoming midterm exams, and was now attending my gym’s regularly scheduled evening class. All was well, or so it seemed. Then, over the span of the next few hours, we learned that the WHO (World Health Organization) had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the NBA and NHL had suspended their seasons, and Tom Hanks and his wife Rita had tested positive for the virus. Although this sudden influx of information did not cause a panic, it cast an ominous cloud over the room. As one my training partners remarked: Is it me or did things just start getting crazy? He was right, they did.
Within the next week, our gym had shut down and the state (California) had imposed a
strict stay-at-home order in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Despite a deep sense of
disappointment, I accepted the fact that I would be unable to train for an indefinite period of
time. As a result, I began doing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) circuits in my backyard.
Even though these workouts had helped improve my strength and conditioning, it soon became clear that this style of training never could provide the same physical and mental benefits of a night of hard rolls. Consequently, I thought long and hard about whether I could return to Jiu-Jitsu. Obviously, resuming BJJ would greatly improve my overall health. However, it would place myself and more importantly my family at a greater risk of being infected with the virus.
Ultimately, I pondered this question: Could I train in a safe and responsible way that reduces the possibility of being infected with COVID-19?
Accordingly, I began to lay the framework for creating a ‘social bubble’ in which I could
return to training. Specifically, I decided that I would limit my sessions to small open mats
(usually one to five people) with selective training partners. Through the use of this ‘bubble
strategy’, I felt like I could responsibly engage in an activity that would otherwise be considered socially unacceptable during a global pandemic. Nevertheless, I have come to realize that like all social activities, training Jiu-Jitsu during a public health crisis is like walking a tight rope. One wrong move could result in new infections, hospitalizations, and even deaths.
As a result, I have adjusted my attitude towards BJJ to mirror epidemiological trends in my state. For example, when cases in California began to dramatically increase in mid-November, I condensed my groups even further. In fact, most of my rolls nowadays are one-on-one sessions. Although I was not happy with this decision, I believed it to be necessary as it would reduce the risk of transmitting the virus within my household.
In summary, I do not intend for this article to drive the discourse in a particular direction.
Instead, I simply wish to share my approach to BJJ during the greatest global calamity since the Second World War. Through a focus on small groups and selective training partners, I have been able to train relatively uninterrupted for the last seven months. Although these circumstances are far from ideal, I believe that it is the most responsible way I can train at the current moment.
Granted, it is highly unlikely that a young able-bodied person like myself would suffer
complications from COVID-19. However, this is not about me. It is about my friends and family who are scared of what this virus might do to them. Ultimately, I believe that is our
responsibility to make well-informed decisions that take the needs of our friends, families, and communities into account. We have entered a brave new world. We must adjust accordingly.
I hope this helped us all feel less alone....and fit to train!
IG Handle: @jacob_knight1999