Finally returned to the mat last night. The first time I’d trained at the dojo, in about five or six weeks. I was away of course, and when I came back I promptly caught a tummy bug. Missed a week or so before travelling too, with all of Thomas’s graduation stuff.
Long story short, I was rusty.
So of course we did knife work, all night.
It was interesting to be reminded just how quickly your skills degrade when you’re not working on them all the time. Even a dull bladed training knife will do that. I kept my fitness up while we travelled. The hotel gym was pretty swish and I was walking about 20km a day, most days. Even with all the beer and chicken I kept the weight off.
And last night, my base level of fitness was still there. One of the ways I turn up the calorie burn at jujitsu—which isn’t always cardio intensive—is to do a burpee up off the mat whenever I get put down. That can mean doing twenty or thirty of those bad boys every session.
No problem with that last night.
But the jujitsu itself?
And not just in body, but also in mind and spirit.
I looked across the dojo at one point, watching about a dozen pairs of uke and tori doing various knife defences, many of them involving the breaking of limbs and the gouging of eyes, and I recall thinking very clearly, almost in surprise, “Holy shit! This is really dangerous. A bloke could get hurt doing this stuff!”
Just for a moment last night I felt myself a newbie again, and newly exposed to harm.
Of course, part of the art lies in training to do harm without coming to harm, and I’ve been doing it long enough now that even after five or six weeks away, I have enough muscle memory and neural imprinting to move along pathways laid down over the years. I also know from previous breaks that it wont take long to get back up to speed. About three sessions.
But man, the skills do decay when you don’t tend to them.