Making time for Jiu-Jitsu: Balancing BJJ, Family, School & Work

Making time for Jiu-Jitsu: Balancing BJJ, Family, School & Work

Written by Mike “Spider-Ninja” Bidwell is a BJJ Black Belt under Phil Migliarese and Ken Kronenberg (Team Tai-Kai / Balance). Mike is a full time Jiu-Jitsuka, blogger (check out his great blog BJJafter40 and ‘Like’ his Facebook page), freelance writer, content provider, teacher and Ninja-for-hire!

Incredibly, Mike was a BJJ brown belt from 2001 to 2014!

168 is a fairly important number if you subscribe to the Monday through Sunday, seven day’s a week schedule.  Unless maybe you’re a Tibetian monk living in solitude seeking enlightenment, then maybe it doesn’t matter.  But if are like most of us juggling jobs, family, school, kids and BJJ then 168 is a crucial number.  If you haven’t figured it out…168 is the number of hours you have in a week.  We all start our week with the same number of hours (168)…and we all have varying responsibilities and challenges that will present themselves throughout our week.  We may start the week with the best intentions of making it to 2 or 3 BJJ classes and somehow another week slips by and you barely make it to class.  Sometimes life just seems to “get in the way” of the things we want to do..so what can we do?  Remember, it’s never about giving up your life for Jiu-Jitsu…it’s about giving Jiu-Jitsu to your life!


In this blog I will give you tips on how to make the ‘gentle art’ a permanent part of your life, regardless of the challenges you may face.

Involve the family!  One of the biggest challenges with adults who train BJJ is balancing training with family obligations.  A great way to handle this challenge is to involve your whole family in Jiu-Jitsu.  Training together as a family is a wonderful way to bond while doing something positive that everyone benefits from.  If your family is hesitant then you can slowly introduce Jiu-Jitsu at home.  If it’s just you and your significant other (no kids), then teach your partner a couple of cool BJJ moves.  Nothing too crazy where anyone gets hurt (feelings or otherwise), but something empowering like a standing guillotine.  They will feel the power of Jiu-Jitsu and maybe even see a little of what you see in it.  Remember, this isn’t about you using them as a practice dummy.  Make this experience fun, no pressure and totally about introducing them to Jiu-Jitsu.  If you have kids, you can do this with them.  If they’re very young (2, 3 or 4 years old) then make it completely about play while slipping a few Jiu-Jitsu moves and techniques into the fun.  Remember, it’s always play and never practice.


Tips for introducing your family / significant other to BJJ:

  • They refuse to train BJJ – You can’t force it.  So maybe you find other ways to involve them in your Jiu-Jitsu world.  See if your Academy offers classes that may appeal to them like:  Muay Thai, kickboxing, yoga, etc. These classes will allow you both to spend time together doing something positive.  It may also act as an easy, non-threatening introduction to the martial arts that may even eventually lead them into Jiu-Jitsu. If they’re not interested in training, then bring them to BJJ social events, so they feel a part of it too.  Even if it’s only from a social standpoint.  Remember, these small introductions may create catalyst that gets them permanently on the mats! (small steps first)
  • The Jiu-Jitsu Mistress – I’ve seen relationships fall apart because of one persons obsession with training BJJ.  Obviously, there may have been deeper issues at work.  But many couples experience inner-relationship stress when one person in constantly away training, and one is left at home.  This can create jealousy, resentment and other challenges.  One of the best ways to balance time at home is to preplan your training week.  I.e. You pick 2-3 days each week as your designated training days and times.  For example:  you will be training Tuesday / Thursday from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM.  This way you and your partner both know which days you will be training so the other person can plan for themselves and isn’t left high and dry.  Communication is the key!


I can’t fit Jiu-Jitsu into my schedule!  I have heard this statement many times over the years.  Let’s go back to that magic number 168.  Unless you work or go to school 7-days per week during the open hours of your Jiu-Jitsu academy.  Then you probably can find a few classes per week that you can attend.  You just have to be creative with your time.  Maybe you bring your dinner / gear etc, to work or school with you so you can go straight to class afterwards.  Most schools offer private lessons during off times.  This is a great opportunity for students with tricky schedules.  If cost is an obstacle, talk to your instructor, they may be able to offer a purple or brown belt student for privates at a lower rate.  If attending classes becomes an impossibility, then maybe it’s time to purchase a few folding mats.  If you have a garage, basement or patio you could easily mat the space for home training.  Most mat companies sell folding mats for home use.  If you’re on a budget, you can purchase puzzle mats very inexpensively at stores like Home Depot, Lowes, BJ’s and Cosco.  If you need partners to roll with, talk to a few teammates who may want to meet up at some off times.  Again, the goal is to be resourceful.

Tips for making time work for you:

  • Limit screen time – or rather limit it to BJJ!  If you’re going to be on your phone then use the time to get some mental reps in.  You can watch instructional videos on YouTube or through other services.  Digiitsu has a great app that allows you to purchase and view a wide selection of BJJ instructional’s conveniently on your phone or device.  They have tons of great videos at a very reasonable price with top instructors.  Technology is a great tool for practicing BJJ.
  • Master the Mini Workout – Find every opportunity to train on the go.  Sneak your gi top into your bag and get a few reps in on the collar when you’re on break at work.  Or you can do the some solo no-gi gripping drills just about anywhere!  (see videos below)

Students  If you’re a student struggling with scheduling conflicts, see if your school offers a Jiu-Jitsu / MMA or Judo club.  If not, maybe it’s time to create one.

Google provides employees with Jiu-jitsu

Work Bring your Jiu-Jitsu to work!  Not only can you sneak mini workouts in on your breaks… but maybe you can get your work to offer a self-defense class for employees.  Most instructors are looking for unique ways to market their academy and help the community.  This is a great way to introduce your co-workers to BJJ… and who knows you might be able to start a long-term class at your work.  Now how cool would that be?  (Jiu-Jitsu at work…and you get to tap coworkers?)  I’ve taught ongoing martial arts classes on site at various employers over the years and it was a win/ win for everyone.

The original Gracie Garage

Gracie Garage  If you live in the middle on nowhere and there’s not a Jiu-jitsu school in site, this can be a great alternative.  Click here for details.

Be sure to check our awesome sponsor Origin for the best gi’s, gear and Jiu-Jitsu apparel.  They make everything right here in the USA in their Maine factory.  It’s a great company with an amazing product!  Also check out People Putty…  I love this product.  I had some pretty severe tendinitis in my elbow and I started using this all-natural product… My elbow is 100% better now thanks to People Putty!