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There are Seven Days in the Week

This fall, after much consideration, we finally did away with the once-a-week tuition option at our dojo. Now, you are welcome to only come one day but you will be paying the unlimited rate like everyone else. So it is to your financial benefit to train as often as possible.

There are many reasons that led us to this decision but rather than bore you with our business conversations it will suffice to say this: taking class once a week sucks! I know this as a teacher and I know it as a jiu-jitsu student. When I first joined my BJJ school, Maya was still home most of the time. Between mommy duties and dojo duties I did not really come consistently. So I got nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. I was confused and beat up and more confused and more beat up. I could not remember a single move from one week to the next. It sucked.

Who would have thunk it? It seems that the more you train, the better you get. And the less you train the more you suck. What a novel concept.

As a mom, I am not a fan of over scheduling. Kids need time after school for playdates, for just hanging out at home, for impromptu trips to the ice cream shop. You can't do this if you are in French on Mondays and soccer on Wednesdays and gymnastics on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays you are off to your weekend home in the country. I also do not think it is necessary for your child to pick just one activity and then do it obsessively all week. Two is fine. Maya often does karate twice a week and gymnastics once. That leaves four days to do whatever she damn well pleases. There are seven days in the week people. Seven! That is plenty of time for sports and free play.

But please don't sign your kid up for so many activities that she has a different one each day. And please don't bring her to karate only on Tuesdays and then wonder why she hasn't learned anything.

Grownups are different. No one signs us up for things. We have the wonderful freedom to make choices. So we can go out drinking with our buddies, or we can go to sparring class and then go out drinking with our buddies. (There is NO better drink than an ice cold beer post sparring. None.) We can let our bosses own us, or we can tell that big oaf that Tuesdays and Fridays we have to leave work by 6pm, no exceptions!

Ok I'm just going to come out and say it.  There is no benefit to once a week training. None. Some people may disagree with me (I am pretty sure my husband is one of them), but it is my story and I'm sticking to it. You won't lose weight. You won't build muscle. You might learn some katas or how to execute an arm bar but it will take you so long to perfect them that your hair will turn grey. And so what if you memorized some moves, if you never get the benefits of practicing them.  Oh, and that funny story that all your classmates have been Tweeting about, yeah, you missed it. You will always miss it.

Yes I am fully aware of how obnoxious this blog post is. Jennifer, you run a dojo! Of course you can train more than once a week. It is your job! I understand that most of you have all day, very time consuming jobs. Also you aren't married to a black belt so you actually have to carve out time to spend with your significant other. You are really really busy. I get that.

Seven days people. There are SEVEN of them. And your NY Sports Club, or your dojo, or your boxing gym are probably open at least five of them, if not all seven. It is all about priorities, about making choices. Commit. Just coming twice a week is one hundred percent better than coming only once.(See that high level math I did there. G&T baby!) If you can pull off three days, between your ogre of a boss and your screaming newborn, you are a rock star! .

September is the month of scheduling. So don't sign your kid up for six different activities. They are only five years old, they have their whole life to learn Latin. Go ahead, do soccer if you must (I personally hate kids soccer programs but I don't judge) but save at least two days for the dojo.

And as for you mama, this fall, be selfish. Tell your boss that you need to be somewhere by seven. Tell your boyfriend that Saturday night will have to be date night because on Fridays you have a date with a big black belt named Clai. (Ok DON'T say that but you get the point). Tell your spouse that he has to put the kids to bed because Mondays and Wednesday evenings are for triangle chokes. Or take a long lunch and hit the mats at noon.

Trust me, it is worth it. Your body will thank you. Your mind will thank you. Your Facebook account will thank you. (Just think of how great it will feel to finally get all those inside jokes.)

Seven days. Use them wisely.


  1. Wow Sensei, that pen of yours is filled with some mighty one-dimensional ink this week and I don’t think I can let this one pass…. :)

    This post probably scrapes across my last raw nerve because training only once or twice a week, or having to be absent owing to long trips abroad, is something I am really, really struggling with right now. I have already been passed over for two promotions because, as you point out, if you only train once a week, you suck. Despite this, despite being lapped by kids who were once my juniors, despite the humiliation of once again forgetting the middle of Kenshikai 2, despite no longer being in the thick of the dojo hub, despite all this - instead of jacking it in, I rather pride myself on the fact that I continue to show up when I can. When I am in the damn country, and when I am able to escape the incredible demands of my job and the not insignificant demands of my family, I am there. Because I believe that one day – on some magical, mystical day in the future, I will be able to show up more often and I will be glad that I didn’t let it slide completely, during that period when I simply couldn’t be there often enough.

    Sometimes, yes, you just need to close the laptop, end the day and head to the dojo. And on those days I do. But there are other days, in the corporate world – and sadly they are many – when you don’t get to blithely chunter “hey boss, I know we’re putting together this huge deal right now, but I really need to leave because it’s Tuesday and there are no exceptions!” If I’m not there, the deal doesn’t happen and if the deal doesn’t happen, I’m not useful and then I’m out of a job. Hey – at least I’d have time for karate! Neither will I say “Sorry sweetheart, Mommy can’t come to the ice cream social at your new school at 6.30pm that all the other mommies and daddies are going to because I really need to improve my Pinan 2”.

    I agree that life is about choices, and I don’t blame anyone but myself for my ‘busy’ but the choices, once made, carry with them responsibilities. I chose to have two kids, I chose to take on the big corporate job, to be the sole breadwinner, I chose to be on the Board of Trustees at my son’s school, and the class parent at my daughter’s.

    And that means I have to show up. At work. At school (s). At ballet. At piano recitals. At fundraising meetings. At Parent Teacher conferences. At the dojo. My whole life right now is about showing up.

    Let’s go back to the point in your blog postwhere you mention your epiphany. You were at home with Maya and you couldn’t make it to BJJ as often as you wanted to. Did you just chuck her at Sensei Matthew and shout ‘your turn, dawg’ and head to BJJ? Or did you realize that was not possible because one of you had to run the dojo you were building together? Did you ditch BJJ altogether? Or did you keep going in the knowledge that Maya wouldn’t be a needy infant forever? Is there not some value in persisting even when you know you are not really improving? Isn’t part of a martial art the mental improvements that come with developing humility, tackling adversity, and in sharing in the life of the dojo?

    It’s a rhetorical question. I know that I can’t make it to the dojo often enough. I know that I will likely be a yellow belt until it turns black of its own accord. And yet I think the most damaging thing I could do right now is quit. So I’ll be on the floor next week – maybe once, maybe twice – sucking ass, missing the inside jokes and never getting any thinner.

    But you know, my hair is already grey and I’m old enough now to know that your seven days a week isn’t nearly enough, not even close, to fit in all the elements of my life. But it’s all I’ve got. So I’m gonna work with that. For now.

  2. Wow! Once again I want to point out that you are a fantastic writer and you should have your own blog! :-)

    Its funny because as I was writing this one I was thinking of you. I knew it would hit a nerve, in fact I said to Matthew "I am going to make Leigh hate me with this one."

    The difference with you is that you are genuinely busy. You can't help that your job makes you travel so much. And you live an hour away. And you know that coming once a week is not enough and feel bad about it and are trying your best to get there more. A lot of people who train only one day are not like you. They have the time to fit in at least two evenings of class and live close to where they train but they would rather do other things. They want to watch a show. They have dinner plans. They're tired. And lazy. And they like to punch the clock and say that they take a class on Mondays because it is easier than rearranging things in order to come more. And that is fine but then they cannot expect to reap all the benefits of the martial arts.

    This is not you. You have always expressed extreme frustration at your inability to come more and fully plan to whenever your life allows. In your mind it is as if you are there every day even when you can't be. I agree that for you to quit would be damaging, both to our dojo (where we adore you!) and to that stubborn, determined part of you that knows that someday you will be a black belt. (Hugo and Clemmie will be in college some day, after all.)

    When I first started BJJ I did almost quit, many times. The main problem I had was that I was uncomfortable with the moves and didn't know the people that well yet so I felt shy. The combination of these two emotions made me not want to go to class so it perpetuated the problem. That and getting beat up every time. And I probably could have carved out one more day, I was just so ambivalent at the time that I did not bother.

    Thank you so much for your well thought out version of the other side of the story. And for what it is worth, I am pretty sure that Matthew agrees with your version.

    I miss you.


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