The Best Way to Improve Your BJJ
The study of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has to be one of the most dynamic and challenging endeavors anyone can undertake. Few activities require the amount of consistent dedication from both a physical and mental standpoint. The average person today who starts BJJ training can look forward to anywhere from 8-10 years and thousands of hours of sweat until they achieve that coveted black belt.
Today we live in the world of hacks. Human beings have gotten where they are today, by always looking for short cuts or ways to make things more efficient. If you think about jiu jitsu in general, it's about using minimal effort and maximizing leverage to get the most benefit. Jiu Jitsu itself is a hack in a sense.
So if you're wondering, what would be the single most important thing I can do today to improve my jiu jitsu? Is there a hack or secret that can help me? Yes, there is. It is to focus on your conditioning for jiu jitsu. Vince Lombardi famously stated that "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." No where is this more apparent than on the mats. Think long and hard back to a recent session when you were training and found yourself running very low on energy or were exhausted. It is at this time that our minds begin to work against us. When you're exhausted, you're more likely tap. That's a fact. You must override this tendency and improve your gas tank.
If you're debating on whether or not you should be doing extra conditioning and strength exercises, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics which explores the subject.
What are some very simple ways to improve your cardio for BJJ starting with your next class? Hack away with these tips.
Don't skip the warm up
I know your not this person, but it goes without saying that your average BJJ class warm up can be fairly demanding and that is by design. You need to be huffing and puffing to get your body prepared for the work to come. It's important to begin fatiguing the muscles so that you began to react more instinctively and use less strength during techniques.
Drill as much as you can
Don't be that person that drills the technique taught 1 or 2 times and then stands around talking the rest of the time. Instead turn that 5-10 minutes of technique drilling into mini-cardio workout. Try to see how many reps you can accomplish before the instructor brings the class back together for more techniques.
Also look into drilling outside of normal class, whether before or after, or even at home. Finding creative ways to keep your body actively engaged in jiu jitsu style movements can help improve your technique and in this case, can be turned into workouts. Set a timer for 5 minutes and perform a series of drills during that time. Get your blood flowing and the sweat rolling as much as you can. This will help improve your cardio.
Roll as much as you can
If your goal is to truly hack your BJJ progress and improve your overall jiu jitsu ability, you must roll and roll as often as you can. This amount and frequency of rolling will be different for everyone. The guiding principle should be that you are pushing yourself beyond where you normally go. So if you are someone who doesn't normally stick around to roll after class, start there. Stay after your next class and spend 30 minutes rolling with fresh partners every 5 or 6 minutes or whatever your school sets the timer for. If you are the person who stays after class for an hour, but ends up rolling every 2nd or 3rd match, up the intensity by rolling the entire hour with fresh partners.
Now get ready. You are going to tap. You are going to be exhausted. You are going to be frustrated. Who cares? You have done more than you normally would do. You are automatically better than you were last class. You have achieved more. Consistently build your intensity as you progress. Be sensible, if you are an older grappler or maybe someone who's brand new, you may want to adjust your intensity. The bottom line is that we can all utilize our training time to improve our overall fitness and BJJ cardio, thereby making us better on the mats.
In the video below, world champion Bernardo Faria shares his thoughts on improving your fitness for BJJ.
There are many ways to get better at BJJ that don't involve learning additional techniques. By building a stronger engine and increasing your BJJ cardio, you will improve your chances of coming out on top during a hard sparring session or a competitive match.
If you're ready to get yourself into the best shape of your BJJ life, check out Ethan Benda's unique Diamond Protocol (includes On Demand videos and E-book).