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Reap the Benefits of Controlling Your Breath
How important is your breathing? Do you think about it? Is it a priority to you when you’re training?
It’s obvious that we need to breathe, but do you keep your breath under control, or do you let it dictate your pace, your stamina, or how many rounds you do? Have you ever tapped due to a feeling of being depleted of oxygen?
I firmly believe that in BJJ your breathing is akin to the hip escape, or an armbar. Its importance should not be ignored. It’s a skill to be mastered. Keeping calm and staying focused begins with the breath.
I hear the statement constantly, “I need to work on my cardio.” The fact is BJJ is unlike any other sport. You may be an experienced athlete, play football, run marathons, or do cross fit, but BJJ has its own unique way of taxing the body and using its oxygen. Supplementing your training with other forms of exercise isn’t a bad thing of course, and there are many exercise programs that are complimentary to BJJ. But if your main focus is improving your breathing while engaged in combat then it needs the bulk of your attention. Running with a sandbag on your back will certainly result in improvement in cardiovascular function, but again, when we train BJJ there’s much more going on cognitively. Your breath can be your demise or a great ally.
How can we improve our BJJ cardio? By training BJJ and being mindful of the breath. Your mind plays more of a role in this process than you may be aware. When we’re trying to build our BJJ autopilot, sometimes breathing is the last thing on our mind. I know, I know, one more thing to consider while training. But this is important, I promise!
Try breathing long and slow, no matter how intense the roll is. Attempt to keep your breathing pattern the same even when the pace of the match speeds up. The chances are this will be difficult for you at first. If you lose control of the breath, be aware and reign it back in. Think of it as catching a triangle but not finishing it, just try again. We are fighting after all. The normal response of the body is to ramp up our systems to accommodate for the stress being placed on it but learning to control the breath can be truly game changing. It will allow you to think clearer and help execute your game plan.
The mind and breathing have a special relationship. If your brain and your breath are not having the same conversation, and one goes down the road of panic, it will undoubtedly take the other one with it.
Training Yoga can help teach one to control their breath as well. The yoga postures will also increase your flexibility and strength for BJJ, thus making it one of the best cross-training activities you can do to help improve and extend your time on the mats. Check out Grappling With Yoga by Josh Stockman, available at BJJ Fanatics today!