Preferably no one is crying on the mats- we’re all drilling, training, and overall (hopefully) having a good time. But unfortunately that’s not always guaranteed. As much as we try to keep our personal lives and issues on the mat, sometimes they have a way of creeping up on us in unexpected places. One minute you’re rolling with someone, and then for some reason it hits you, like when you’re standing in the ocean and get hit with a wave that you weren’t expecting.
While there are some outliers who have never shed an emotional tear on the mat, by and large if you haven’t cried in jiu jitsu, you probably haven’t been training for long enough. Admittedly, there are also moments when you are crying because of jiu jitsu, usually pain or maybe just feeling extra emotional- or you’re in pain, but if it’s a serious enough injury to make you upset, then that’s a slightly different protocol.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to crying in jiu jitsu:
- Don’t: Draw too much attention to the situation, and try to politely excuse yourself from the mat – This is really the biggest piece of advice that I can give you. Not that I expect anyone to roll on the ground and intentionally draw attention to themselves, but if there’s a big blow up or some outburst of emotion, as an instructor my immediate worry is that someone is hurt physically. If you feel the tears coming on, let your partner know that you need a minute, try to excuse yourself/bow off the mat as calmly as you can manage, and either take a minute in either the locker room, or some other space where you feel safe to let it out.
- Do: Let it out, and start to take deep breaths – Listen, it’s ok to cry. I’m not sure how you got to this point: bad break up, a death of a loved one, work making you feel like you are barely treading water…. you’re at a point where there’s a lot going on, and unfortunately everything just came to a head at an inconvenient time and place. Happens literally to everyone at some point in their lives. It sucks, I know, but you’re also human, and sometimes we need a good cry. Remember to start taking nice deep breaths, get your heart rate back down, pull yourself back together.
- Don’t: Be ashamed to head back into class – Once you’ve pulled yourself back together, maybe splashed some cold water on your face, straightened out your gi- and don’t feel ashamed rejoining the class. Again, totally sucks, but it’s better to get something out of the class than hiding somewhere for the rest of the time. If your instructor doesn’t know what’s going on, you may also want to give them a heads up, just so they know what’s going on. This is also where I mention protocol gets a little different between emotional distress and a physical problem. If you get hurt in jiu jitsu and you know that it isn’t something long lasting, just really hurt in the moment, then come back to class and keep drilling/training if you can. If you feel like something is injured however, or hurts to the point where the thought of drilling or training again just seems impossible, then just sit to the side: let your instructor know what’s happening and ask if you can sit to the side, or somewhere out of the way.
Those are kind of the major points: it feels awful to cry on the mat, I know, but it’s definitely not the end of the world, promise- you’ll get through that uncomfortable moment and move on.
Have a great day everyone!