Is it like riding a bike?

There seems to be two schools of thought regarding the retention of techniques learnt in grappling sports like Judo, Sambo, BJJ etc. I know many instructors who say that unless you train regularly you will soon forget everything that you have learned, regardless of muscle memory or any other way of storing the information.

I see the merit in this but then I see people
who havent stepped onto a mat in years warm up and hold their own with guys who regularly train. It's also common to see boxers, kickboxers and even MMA fighters come out of long retirements, get back into shape and hold their own (sometimes) against a younger fighter who trains all the time.

Obviously a lot of it is just conditioning, if you train regularly your body gets accustomed to bumps and hits etc, it toughens you up and keeps you fit. Apart from that though, in general if someone trained regularly for say 5 years and then quit for 5 years would they retain anything at all if they stepped back onto the mat? Would they be able to beat the white belt who only started a few weeks ago?


I think it depends on the individual. I know an ikkyu who took a year off from any training whatsoever and still wiped the floor with a couple of us young guys. His skills were great for a guy who didn't do any training for such a long time. Then again, he was still in good shape and he was a good competitor.

YA is right. it is a completloy individual thing. but, overall, yes, people will still retain a lot of their abilities even after taking off for an extended period of time. this is tricky though becuase there is an individual factor involved as well as the level of technical ability that person had and the quality of cocahing and time spent training.

if an averagly athletic guy did recreational judo 2 or 3 times a week for 2 years and then quit for 2 i would think his retention would be somewhat low in comparison to somebody who had a higher athletic ability and trained the same amount but for a competitive reason.

likewise, we have alumni here who sometimes just show up from nowhere after taking 10 years off and can come pretty close to giving even our better players a very hard time. then again, they were most likely solid athletes who trained 5 to 6 days a week all year round for 4 or 5 or more years... not only that, but they also would have trained under some great coaches and with some of the nation's top players.

so, like YA said, it is all going to depend on the person and the situation s/he was in. but, there will always be SOME level of retention.


I think it's the same in any martial art or combat sport.

You hear about some guys who've just quit training yet still manage to retain much of their abilities.

But I think you also hear a LOT more about guys who once used to kick ass but couldn't throw a 12 year old girl after 20 years of eating ding dongs and vegging on the couch watching infomercials all day.

Interesting stuff, thanks.