Grappling Fatherhood: Training as a new dad
First, let me say congratulations! Fatherhood is an amazing journey filled with highs and lows. Your child’s first smile and the first time they fill their diaper so explosively that it goes all the way up their back and you need to cut their onesie off with a scissors...
…yeah, that happens.
Amidst all of those changes, it’s more than likely that your training schedule is going to change too. Gone are the nights when you could say “I’m going to roll”, grab your gear and head out the door, all the while apologizing to your wife that you were so curt and presumptuous with her that she wouldn’t already have plans for you and her to hang out with her friends from work.
…what? Was that just me?
Anyway, things change. The bond between child and mother tends to be almost instant. The cooing, the feeding, the constant cradling of the child creates something between them that the father may never really understand.
But it isn’t easy for momma. She will be tired from nighttime feedings, the times when the baby just won’t stop crying and really, the change in her life.
She doesn’t just get to go to the gym. The child is on her hip and dependent. So, guess what, you’re training schedule is going the get clipped down a bit.
Why? Because you don’t want that fight. Trust me, I don’t care if you are a world champion with Olympic-level takedowns, that’s a fight you aren’t gonna win.
If you can get out to the gym a few times a week, count yourself lucky. If you are one of those guys who can go and roll during your lunch break, well, I’m so jealous of you that I actually shake a little when I think about it.
The point of all this is, that when you can’t train as much as you might want, you have to train smarter. Having a child puts a lot of things into perspective, especially the concept of time.
Whether you want to or not, you need to get out of the mindset of “I can do it next time”. No, do it now.
Do more reps.
When your world of training is reduced to anywhere from two to six hours a week, it’s all about the economy of movement. It’s not just “two reps then talk”. Do it as much as you can in the time you have.
Make it count.
Don’t focus on the flash-n-the-pan videos you see posted with moves that have never been a part of your arsenal.
Work your bread-and-butter.
Add pieces from your instructor’s daily lessons.
And drill them all.
Not only that, but you need to roll smarter. Get used to tapping. If you aren’t getting ready for a tournament, there is no need to hold out on a submission, just tap.
Remember, you aren’t just injuring yourself anymore.
It’s hard to hold a child with your arm in a sling. When they start walking, it’s tough to keep up when you are on crutches because you refused to tap because you thought you could roll out of that heel hook.
Pride is no longer in your vocabulary.
But after you cut off a onesie, you stop thinking about pride quite so much.
Which is a good thing, pride gets in the way of progress. Be a white belt again (or still), learn, mature and grow. Be all the things that BJJ can and does instill in us.
And always remember: be the man you want your son to become or your daughter to marry.
See you on the mats.