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BJJ WARMUP DRILLS
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BJJ WARMUP DRILLS

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport that uses high energy systems, and a series of advanced muscle movements in order to control, and submit an opponent. The rough nature of the sport can demand a heavy physical, and mental toll on all athletes that participate. From the high impact a takedown maneuver can have, to the aggressive top pressure, and the brutal nature of a submission hold, the art has its fair share of tough elements. The window of opportunity for world class athletes is small, and the harsh reality of old age hunts down every athlete. The key to longevity in the sport isn't winning every match, it is taking care of an athlete's body. 

What this article covers:

Injury prevention is crucial when an athlete is in pursuit of longevity, and preparing their body for battle is an important factor. Warming up the body by doing bjj drills can have a positive effect on how an athlete will build their long term game styles. There are many different types of warm up drills that can help an athlete best prepare themselves for training in a combat sport like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Learn the keys to keeping yourself injury free and on the mats longer, Mobility Fundamentals with Michael Sergi and BJJFanatics.com!

bjj warm up drills

The key to success isn't an extensive amount of warm up drills, rather it is all about the quality over quantity. This means to pick a few warm up drills that best suit the individual athlete, and use these systems to get the blood flowing, and the muscles full of oxygen, so the athlete is ready to train.

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WHY IS WARMING UP SO IMPORTANT 

Warming up in any competitive sport is extremely important, especially in combat sports. Warming up will increase the body's blood flow, and will help to deliver oxygen to all of the muscle groups. This will also help to raise the muscles temperature, which is how oxygen becomes more available to the muscles. This process allows the muscles to contract, and relax, which makes hard, or intense training easier to achieve. Warming up will also allow an athlete to avoid significant injuries, and this is because a warmed up muscle has more elasticity, and athletes that don't warm up run the risk of straining, or tearing muscles. It is important to do dynamic stretching, before static stretching, and this means to get the blood flowing first, before moving into deep stretches with an athlete's muscles. A muscle has the tendency to snap, as opposed to stretch when it is cold, and this is the reasoning behind dynamic stretching.

Apart from all of the physical aspects, warming up will also help an athlete mentally. Going into any training session, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition under prepared is a huge mistake. Warming up is like giving the brain a quick refresher course on the systematic movements they will need to utilise. With increased blood flow, and oxygen to all of the muscle systems, this will only help the brain function on a higher level, and this will translate into a better frame of mind. Sometimes the mind can lack motivation, and all it may need is a jump start, and warming up is the perfect catalyst for the neurological pathways of an athlete. What can commonly happen is an athlete will feel unmotivated, and not want to go to training, but after forcing themselves to go, and doing the warm ups they are revitalized, and in a more motivated state of mind, which will lead to a successful training session. 

STRETCHING FOR BJJ

Stretching is an important facet for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and this is because it creates more flexibility within the athlete. BJJ is notorious for its diversity with movements, and many of them need certain levels of flexibility. Increasing flexibility can help an athlete reach higher levels of strength and conditioning, as well as becoming more agile, and dexterous with their movements. Stretching will also help an athlete with injury prevention, as a cold muscle group is at a higher risk of becoming strained, or torn. Stretching for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu doesn't just have to happen at the academy, because doing jiu jitsu exercises at home will help an athlete stay limber, and constantly give them motivation to keep training. 

There are many good stretches that will specifically target certain areas that a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete needs. The butterfly stretch is a really good one, and it involves sitting in a postured position with their back straight, and their legs straight out in front. From here the athlete will grab their ankles, and pull their heels into their groin, as the soles of their feet touch. The athlete will place both of their elbows on their knees, as they try to push their knees to the mat. If an athlete has a good range of flexibility they can place their knees on the mat, and reach forward with their hands, placing their head on the mat. If this is achievable then they can go into the lotus stretch which is the same stretch just with the added factor of bringing each foot up onto the opposite thigh, this stretch was made famous by Eddie Bravo, the creator of the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be extremely rough on an athlete's neck, and this is due to the high calibre of choke holds. There can also be a heavy toll on the neck because of the impact of a solid takedown. Stretching the neck before all training sessions, or competitions is crucial to injury prevention. Neck mobility is important for Jiu Jitsu, and before all classes start, athletes should be moving their neck up and down, side to side, and in a circular motion for at least two minutes to help warm the neck muscles up. This is crucial to help activate all of the muscles in the neck, and prepare them for what could happen during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match. The cervical spine is the most important section of a spine to protect, as the seven bones make up the support system to the head, and effectively the brain. Keeping the neck limbered up, and ready, will help athletes exponentially in survivability, and long term health for their spine.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stretching must be functional, and it must hit the core areas used. The most important places to stretch are the neck, the knees, the hips, the shoulders, and the lower back. Many of the stretching exercises that help BJJ students are found in yoga, like the child's pose, the pigeon stretch, and the cobra stretch. Using bands, or even a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt is a good way to help the stretching process, as an athlete can simply wrap the belt around their leg, and pull up to enhance the stretch. Limbering up, and activating all of the muscle groups is vital for better performance, and even more important for long term, and short term injury prevention.

WARM UP SOLO DRILLS

There are many different functional bjj solo drills designed for beginners, and for more advanced athletes. Utilising hip shrimping techniques are great for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and this is because the art incorporates a lot of hip escapes from bad positions. Hip shrimps are the first half of an elbow escape technique, as the initial shrimp will help an athlete to escape, while the hip insert will allow an athlete to regain the guard. Practising hip shrimps laying on an athlete's back, and in the seated position are great solo drills that will engage the athlete's full body. This is the same with a hip insert, as it can be trained laying on an athlete's back, or in a seated position.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, takedowns are crucial to how a match can be controlled by an athlete, and one wrong step will see an opponent thrown onto their back. This can become an issue for an opponent that has no resilience for high impacts on the mat. A good solo drill is a break fall, and this is a way that an athlete can absorb a high impact throw, by taking power from the mats. The athlete will practise break falls by lowering their hips towards the mat, falling flat on their back, as they spread their arms and slap the mat. It is important to note two aspects, the first is the athlete must spread their arms to an angle lower than ninty degrees, and this is so they can protect their shoulders from jarring. The other aspect is to keep the chin tucked, so the athlete doesn't crash their head into the mat. The break fall is also a drill performed by Judokas, and this is due to their high calibre of Judo throws.

One of the best solo drills an athlete can do is to practise inversion techniques. This is an important tool in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that is used for offense, and defense, and learning how to use this method effectively is pivotal. Athletes can use the 180 rock which is a sideways roll over their upper back, or the granby roll, which is a sideways roll over their shoulder blades. It is a good idea for beginners to start with the 180 rock, before moving onto the half granby roll, and once they are more confident with their movement system, they can progress onto a full granby roll. Using this drill requires a certain level of core strength, so the athlete can lift up and over from a bad position. There are dangers that go along with these techniques, but using them as a solo drill will improve their ability exponentially.

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WARM UP PARTNER DRILLS

Utilising bjj partner drills to warm up is extremely common for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner. There are many different forms of warm up drills that use dynamic movements, technical precision, and fluent motion. A good partner drill is called pummeling, and this drill is used to practise skills in initiating the double under hooks, so an athlete can attempt takedown maneuvers. The drill is simple, each athlete will start with an under hook, and an over hook, and as one athlete uses their over hook to thread into an under hook, the other athlete will do the same on the opposite side. The drill is designed to improve the fluency of the pummel for the under hook. This drill can also be turned into more of a game, as the athlete's will pummel for under hooks, and then fight for double under hooks, or otherwise known as a body lock. This is a dynamic warm up with elements of precision involved.

Another good warm up drill involves an athlete to stand up, while the other athlete starts from a de la riva guard. The athlete will then unhook their de la riva hook, and begin to invert onto their shoulders, and at the same time scoop their hand to the inside of the opposite leg, with their palm facing up. The athlete will continue the sideways roll, as they loop their opposite leg around their training partners leg into a de la riva guard on the opposite leg. This is a drill that can go back and forth, or it can continue in a full circle, going around the back. This is a great drill to practice inversion techniques, de la riva controls, and how to move from these positions into a back take.

Another great partner drill is when two athletes go through a systematic series of movements. This could be something like an athlete starting in the guard, an then breaks the guard, before passing with a knee slice maneuver, and securing the side control position, then moving into the mount. The other athlete will then trap the arm, and roll their opponent over, landing in their guard, where they will repeat the whole process. There are an infinite amount of different combinations that athletes can use for this drill, and they can be designed to help certain areas that need addressing for each athlete. This kind of drilling is like a continuous loop, and is designed for athletes to become fluent at these movements, and to build up the muscle memory of these movements.

TRADITIONAL BJJ WARM UPS

Traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu warm ups have a few different elements involved. The first element is to get an athlete's blood flowing, and this is usually done with simple jogging around the mats, followed by side stepping, and switching direction. Some instructors will also use dynamic movements like star jumps, or body twists, to get the cardiovascular systems activated. From here the instructor will implement a series of core strengthening warm ups, which include sit ups, crunches, squats, lunges, and different forms of leg extensions, rotational leg movements, and some specifically designed movement systems to help an athlete with many of the different functions of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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jiu jitsu warm up

Once the class has begun to elevate their heart rate, and feel like they are beginning to activate all of their muscles, the instructor will move the class into specifically targeted line drills. This usually consists of the whole class lining up on one side of the mats, as they take turns doing specific movements from one side of the mat to the other. Some of these movements include bear crawls, where athletes will run on all fours to the other end of the mat, crocodile walks, which is a slow crawl on all fours, moving elbow to knee in a crocodile like why. Hip shrimps are another line drill, which is athletes lying on their backs, and scooting their butt out towards their head to mimic escaping from a mount position. There are other line drills like break falls, forward rolls, backward rolls, and sit throughs that all have specific functions for grappling. 

Another part of traditional warm ups that some instructors may include is specific drilling games. This means that all students will line up against the wall, as three of four students will lay on the mat in their own corner. Each student from the line will go in one at a time, and begin a drilling game. Some of these games may include one athlete to pass the guard, while the other athlete attempts to sweep, or an athlete may just have to maintain the mount, while the other athlete attempts to escape, and regain their guard, or even two athletes attempting to takedown each other. Whoever wins the battle will remain on the mats, and the loser will join the end of the line. This is a great way to practise fundamental skills, and will allow the instructor to analyse all of their students for overall promotion.

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