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Professional and high-school sports plow through their responses to the ongoing pandemic with some success. The NFL finished a season without losing a game. The NBA put teams in a bubble, which …
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Professional and high-school sports plow through their responses to the ongoing pandemic with some success.
The NFL finished a season without losing a game. The NBA put teams in a bubble, which allowed the league to crown a champion in the fall. Major League Baseball and the NHL moved their postseasons to designated locations and crowned winners in both cases.
But for sports that aren’t naturally socially distant, the COVID-19 outbreak causes problems.
Brighton High School graduate Eric Sainz, who competes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in New York state, knows of that firsthand.
“COVID has been a constant struggle for my everyday norm,” he said. “Training for competition has come to a halt. I haven’t competed since Nov. 2, 2019, and training has completely stopped since March of 2020.”
The decision for suspending competition came from the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. The halt to training came from Sainz’s gym,
Essential BJJ. Before training stopped, it was a full-service training regimen – submissions and techniques – just as long as everyone involved agreed and that everyone involved stayed safe.
“Jiu-Jitsu is as contact of a sport you can be in. You sweat, you bleed, you transfer all the bacteria on you to one another,” Sainz said. “So, I took a step back and put myself into isolation for months.”
The break was OK at first.
“Jiu-Jitsu was my life,” Sainz said. “At first the break was nice, felt like a vacation. In 2019 I was in camp all year, and I was run down. I want to compete more than ever. I have that itch, and now I’m sick and tired of waiting, to say the least.“
He and his girlfriend train at home, He called her “a phenomenal training partner.”
“I teach classes virtually and, as you can imagine, teaching a full-contact sport virtually has been my latest challenge,” Sainz said. “For the solo drills, I’ve had to think way outside the box, had to think of what it would be like to do techniques all alone and make it to where my students can visualize it and apply it once we can train again.
“Teaching is always very difficult. With partners, it makes it easier in some ways to be able to demonstrate the move but you can also get very complex with techniques and concepts,” he continued.
“Now with solo drills, you become very limited to what you can teach without having a partner’s reaction.”
Sainz called the last year “a huge test more so on my mind.”
“It’s a big aspect in being an athlete, but I’ve used this time to grow in areas I didn’t have the opportunity to,” he said. “As an athlete, I still work out constantly and maintain a great diet to stay ready. But it’s far from the same outcome I would normally have.”
Most athletes deal with the potential of life after their careers a little later than Sainz.
“The last thing I could think to add is that I never would have imagined what life without
BJJ would be like. And in ways it’s very nice to accomplish new goals and look out for my future,” he said. “If more pandemics happen, it could kill my dream of being a gym owner completely. So, I need to be positive but also need to have new backup options.
“Life won’t wait for you and if you don’t make something happen for yourself, that falls back onto you.”
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