Three Reasons Not to Skip the Warm Up
Tom DeBlass recently went to his social media channels and issued a warning to his students about skipping the class warm up. If you've following Tom DeBlass for any length of time, you most likely realize behind that smile and the sense of humor, there is always a grain of truth. Tom came up in the jiu jitsu and MMA ranks with some of the toughest instructors and training partners ever to grace the competitive mats.
This is a guy who was training on a daily basis with the likes of Renzo, Ryan and Ralph Gracie as a white belt, long before there was any social media outlets to allow you to express your feelings. In those days, the warm up wasn't something to be skipped. It was probably the only time you weren't getting smashed into the ground. So when it comes to staying disciplined and working hard, Tom is going to bust out the 'hammer' and get after students at his own academy and across the globe via social media.
Injury and scheduling issues (that should be discussed with your instructor) aside, there are very few reasons why someone should not be taking part of the warm ups. Let's take a look at a few reasons why the warm up could quite possibly be the most important part of your class. Just like anything, the warm up can be something you can get better at, simply by changing your mindset.
Warm Ups Get Your Mind Right
Wait, the warm up is all about getting my muscles and joints ready for training right? It's meant to tax my cardio and get my body loosened up to prevent injury right? What's this about getting my mind right? The reality is that the benefits on our psyche may be equal to or greater than any benefit that the warm up has on our body. Not only do our stiff joints need loosened up, but our cluttered mind could also a little bit of cleaning prior to class as well.
No matter what your life is like, whether you're a professional BJJ competitor or a school owner, or the average student, balancing jobs, family, school and the other thousands of things that can be on your mind, training BJJ can provide a much needed break from the outside world.
It might seem cliche, but training jiu jitsu is often referred to as being very therapeutic. The physical and mental aspects of BJJ training can help release stress and like any strenuous exercise, our bodies produce endorphins which can improve our state of well being.
Making the transition from the outside world full of worry and stress to the BJJ mats where stress seems to melt away can be aided by the warm up. The 10-20 minutes of warming up, can be the time in which you begin to distance yourself from the nagging concerns that you're hoping to leave out in the parking lot. With each lap of shrimps or bear crawls, or whatever the warm up du jour might look like at your academy, you move further and further away from your bills, your boss, your teachers or whatever else might be stressing you out.
The warm up can help put you in the right state of mind to be ready to absorb the upcoming instruction and class activities. Skipping it might not give you that buffer and you may find yourself in class, but not "in class" because you haven't gotten your mind right. Don't be afraid of the warm up and add to your stress levels. Jump in, do the best you can and let the outside world go. You'll be surprised how much better class will be.
Warm Ups Get Your Body Right
For sure the warm up is crucial to properly prepare your muscles, joints, and overall conditioning, in preparation of what training may come next. The warm up can loosen up stiff muscles and coupled with stretching can help decrease the likelihood of injury.
Taxing the muscles and fatiguing the various physiological systems can also play a roll in helping the students utilize more technique rather than strength. Training after a strenuous warm up can give all students a sense of what it can be like to use BJJ when exhausted which can improve overall fitness levels and also teach the mental aspect of staying strong and not quitting even when our minds may be telling us that it's okay to back off or even quit.
Another great physical aspect of the warm up that can sometimes get overlooked is the ability of the warm up to help shore up a student's mobility and coordination, especially when doing fundamental techniques. Think about the simple hip escape or shrimp. And now think about the first time you ever tried it. If you're like most people, thinking back on the first time you had to come up on a shoulder and shoot your butt away without flopping like you were trying to make some half-hearted snow angel on the mats, will probably make you laugh. By practicing these techniques over and over in the warm up, we can continue to refine and improve them, increasing the muscle memory and making them second nature for when we need them in real situations.
If these simple mechanics aren't practiced, students can develop deficiencies in basic body mobility and movement that can then become detrimental to learning future techniques that perhaps replicate those fundamental movements. Don't think about how many shrimps you've done in your time with frustration and a sense of boredom. Ask yourself how many perfect shrimps you've performed and be more present and engaged in your simple practice. You'll be surprised how much better your session will go. For more on being mindful during your BJJ practice, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics.
There are different levels and aspects through which the simple and much maligned BJJ warm up can prepare you physically for class. It loosens you to prevent injury. It taxes you to challenge you and force you to use technique and strategy. It builds coordination and muscle memory to make your techniques better. Amazing what a short 15 minute warm up can do for your jiu jitsu!
Warm Ups Are a Team Activity
For the most part, BJJ is an individual sport. We may be training and drilling with partners, but we are essentially individuals enacting our game plan on the training mats or in the competition venues. The whole class warm up is something we are all doing together as a group or team. It reminds us that we are part of a much larger community of people all training the same beautiful art for a million different reasons.
Doing the warm up can also be an inspiring activity. Imagine you're a newer student. Imagine you see the higher ranked students, lazily working through the warm up or not warming up at all. Whether we like it or not, our fellow students, especially the new ones, look to the more experienced students for guidance and to set a good example. This can go a long way to inspiring your team to work harder and make your instructor more proud.
During the warm up, the competitor lines up next to the average practitioner, the professional does their burpees next to the full-time student, and the college athlete does their bear crawls alongside the middle aged woman seeking a fun workout. The warm up is one of the best representations of the community and family that BJJ truly is. For that reason alone, jump in, sweat and get yourself ready for the class to come.
In closing, the warm up is not just some sort of filler portion of your class that is optional. Your instructor has spent a lot of time designing your class session and the warm up can play a key role in setting the tone from a mental, physical and team comraderie perspective. It is not something to be missed casually, or entertained half heartedly. Starting today, don't miss the warm up, or you just may find yourself answering to Tom DeBlass one day!
Now that you're sufficiently warmed up and scared to make Tom DeBlass mad, it's time to jump into the instruction! What better way to get to know more about Tom DeBlass and his amazing instructionals is to check out his most recent, 4 volume set "Submission Escapes" available here from BJJ Fanatics!