14 Dec 2009

The BJJ Frequency-Spousal Happiness Slide Scale

Dang! I had my very first row with my wife about how much time I spend training and how much time I spend on the computer writing about my training. After six years of pretty much the same level of output from me, I only get this now?

It was not a big row, in fact it wasn't a row at all. It was simply that my wife had booked four nights in a row of going out Xmas partying and I squeeked something about not wanting to miss a couple of BJJ sessions she snapped back at me with 'that look'. Oops.
Life/BJJ Balance

Anyway, here's today's topic - how do you get the BJJ/life balance correct? Let's assume work hours remain fairly constant and are non-negotiable, then everything else - like the number of times you train, the chores you have to do at home, the quality time spent with wife and kids - is not fixed and works on a sliding scale of time periods.

The above is a silly graphic I made up on the subject.

Me personally, I have discovered that x3 BJJ sessions per week is the bare minimum I need to maintain my level - with perhaps very small scale improvements. I think I would see better dividends with x4 but it would mean less time at home. And if I want to pursue my writing interests as well as peace at home, x4 would be pushing it.

Having said that, I think I am pretty lucky. Some wags/habs (wives and girlfriends/husbands and boyfriends) are totally uninterested in their partner's hobbies and may even resent it.

A good friend of mine from way back was completely nuts about football. He went to every match, he played Sunday league games, he bought every strip, jumpers for goalposts in the park...the lot. Then he met his future wife. Once they were married, out went the season ticket, he had to ebay all his memorabilia, he even had to take holidays when the World Cup was on - and she rationed how much time he could watch it on tv. I mean comeon? This is too much surely?

Euro countdown
Umm, so having said all that, I can't say I've put in any extra amount of effort towards the European Championships. I know my peers are out there in the cold rain, slogging away running miles, lifting huge kettleweights, downing litres of protein shakes, drilling triangles etc. While I'm at home playing puppets with my socks to entertain my darling kids.

Oh and after a ropey weekend spent wheezing and coughing, I took myself to the doctors and she said I was asthmatic. Who gets asthma at 40??!!! That sucks.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Liam H Wandi said...

Welcome to the Part Time Grappler club dude. I talked about this on http://parttimegrappler.blogspot.com/2009/11/nobody-cares-about-your-training.html and http://parttimegrappler.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-are-part-time-grapplers.html

A one directional life is not as fulfilling as some books and movies make it out to be :)

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Part Time Grappler - words of support from a brother in jiu jitsu. This is what blogging and rolling and life outside this is all about!

PS: After my shock asthma diagnosis, I still went to class, even though I was still a bit wheezy, and it was ok, didn't push myself but I survived. Ain't no bronchial disfunction gonna get this Meerkat down, oh no!

matt said...

excellent post seymour!
i personally had the epiphany that the "sacrifice" that fighters make is nothing glamorous or cool, it's the simple but enormous sacrifice of letting down loved ones occasionally by choosing our hobby/sport over them.

we are all in the same boat dude!

slideyfoot said...

Ouch: sorry to hear about the asthma! Hopefully you'll be able to get that under control with the right treatment.

Interesting topic regarding life/bjj balance, though it doesn't affect me too much. Over the past three years, I've only trained twice a week on average. Even if I had the time and money, I doubt I'd train all that much more: maybe three or four times a week at the very most.

BJJ is great fun, and I love to train and write about it, but it is just a hobby to the vast majority of us. I really don't buy all this talk of 'the BJJ lifestyle', no more than I would 'the hockey lifestyle' or 'the table tennis lifestyle'.

So for me, it is definitely not something that should take precedence over your family. Sure, if you're an instructor and it is your livelihood, or a high-level competitor who relies on sponsors, that necessitates a greater commitment, but that isn't the case for most BJJers.

Even if you are a world champion or a successful instructor, you aren't going to be in a relationship all that long if you constantly neglect your partner in favour of BJJ.

It is not healthy to obsess over any one aspect of your life: balance is the key. BJJ is enjoyable, but it should not be the top priority. Family and loved ones should ALWAYS come first, in my view.

Relationships necessarily involve compromise, so if that means I occasionally have to miss a few sessions of BJJ, that's ok. Of course, if my gf demanded that I stop altogether, that would be different: compromise applies to both people in a relationship, after all. ;)

If you're not in a relationship, then it still isn't a good idea to gear everything towards BJJ: what if you get a chronic injury and can never train again? You need something to fall back on, other interests that are important to you.

Speaking of the Part Time Grappler site, there is plenty of good stuff on there, but I have to say I'd be a lot more inclined to read it regularly if the RSS fed full articles through to a reader (rather than just a snippet), and if comments were enabled.

TFP said...

This happens up and down the UK in every BJJ/MMA club; as an instructor this is the most used excuse as to why students miss class - arguments with the Mrs!

It's not like we're out drinking, chasing women, fist fighting (only at weekends lol) but they don't see it that we are undertaking a pastime with many positive health benefits etc etc they just don't like to see us enjoying ourselves!

Meerkatsu said...

God I'm mad me. I actually trained twice today. It's as if I'm trying to fight asthma by doing more BJJ.

Excellent words of wisdom from the commentors on this post. It obviously struck a chord with everyone. Thanks again.

I agree, loved ones come first, BJJ will always be there so a healthy long term view is the best.

Georgette said...


I'll intrude into the lovefest about partner/waghab/family first... with a little peep from the obsessed corner over here in Texas.

I'm lucky in that I don't have children (yet) and no pets, inlaws in state, etc. I'm also lucky in that my office has flextime, meaning basically as long as you get your work done, they don't care if you take a two hour lunch here or there, or if you come in late or leave early. Etc.

However, as many of my internet jits friends know, I have had substantial conflict with my husband, the ever patient, about my time commitment to jits.

Slowly, reluctantly, I have compromised. I only train two nights a week (nevermind the 6 morning classes a week, and the 2-4 noon classes a week as well.)

The way I look at it, I'm not going to give up a night of jits to sit at home and read a book/watch TV/etc in the same room as you while you're working on the computer/watching TV.

Yeah, time with your partner is wonderful, but if they're not using that same time to "be with you" too, then what the heck!

Sorry for rubbing my blessings in your noses. :)

slideyfoot said...

That's a great point: I'd forgotten Georgette presents the perfect example of someone who manages to train a ridiculous amount, but STILL balance it against home and work, which is pretty impressive.

If there are morning and afternoon classes, then it's possible to make the time to fit in loads of BJJ without destroying your marriage or having no other interests (given the salsa etc). Inspiring stuff! ;)

Meerkatsu said...

My final word on this subject: I wish to emphasise that I do actually WANT to spend quality time with my loved ones. This is my choice and something I choose to do and I love dearly. I never ever resent time off from training to spend time with them. Again, its all about balance.

Challenger said...

Ahhh...right up to that last comment I was going to say that my graph's more like a bell curve - because if I train once or twice a week *I* get cranky, three or four makes us both happy and five or six makes my girlfriend cranky. But also I get up at 6:00am twice a week for morning classes, which my girlfriend certainly doesn't resent.

Slidey - I love your blog, but I do think there's a BJJ lifestyle, and that's what makes it so easy to train. I like the guys at my club, and wanting to be good at jiu-jitsu actually makes me address other things - like my diet, health, and complete lack of surfing or Portuguese ability.

Final protip: Learn to cook. If you whip up some tasty stuff at least as many times a week as you train, it's hard for your loved ones to stay mad at you.

slideyfoot said...

Heh - could be I'm just too lazy to do anything about diet, surfing or Portuguese. Having enough trouble learning Spanish. ;)

Julia Johansen said...

This made me laugh and is so true. It's also true about almost any hobby. :)


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