Most of us are not machines. Most jiu-jitsu practitioners train for fun and have full-time jobs. They don’t have the same time to stay conditioned like professionals. Their nutrition is not spot-on and they don’t have time to do Cross Fit classes. So what does this ultimately mean? You have limits and you should know when you’re exceeding them, otherwise, there is a certain price to pay depending on your age and weight.
Know when to stop.
Everyone has their limit on how many rounds they can roll in one class. It can also vary depending on the day. Perhaps you didn’t eat enough carbs, or you drank too much the night before. Realistically, you won’t have the same energy to go five or six rounds - perhaps you only have three quality rounds in you. If you go beyond that, you will be at risk of rolling more clumsily – leading to injury and really giving your immune system a beating. So after those three rounds, if you’re feeling drained, just stop and come back to fight another day.
Don’t cave into peer pressure.
If you’re tired and sitting on the side to rest, it is okay to say ‘no’ to someone who asks you to roll – or someone who is egging you on to roll with someone else. Everyone gets tired, if you’re not a serious competitor, it’s better to not push your limits too much and stay safe. This is especially useful for beginners who are not used to the pressure of BJJ - you could vomit or pass out. Of course, this is relative for everyone. Some guys can drink the night before and still go ten rounds, while others have only two rounds in them. Just remember that it’s not shameful to tell others you need to sit out, and they have to respect that.
Listen to your body.
So what does it mean to “listen to your body” exactly? Depending on how long you have been training, your understanding of your own body will vary. Black belts and professional fighters all have spent enough time on the mats, and have experienced all sorts of painful sensations in their body, to know when they are in danger of overexertion. If you’re feeling pain somewhere in your body, and you have already done a fair amount of rolling in the class, that’s a clear sign that it’s time to turn it in for the day. Again, it varies for most people, but try to pay attention to it. The goal here is to continue to train for the rest of your life – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t roll with giants on a low gas tank.
One of the most high-risk things you can do when exhausted is to test your metal against a much larger opponent. Usually when you’re tired you will get sloppier and an injury can be right around the corner. Of course, all of this is relative to skill level as well - if you’re far more skilled than your opponent, you will have a much easier time, even if exhausted, so pick your battles!