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YOGA FOR JIU JITSU
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YOGA FOR JIU JITSU

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Combat sports can be extremely rough on an athlete's body, especially Mixed Martial Arts, Judo, and the muay thai and jiu jitsu combination. The intense nature of these sports are seen through many of the death defying knockout blows, the high impact of takedown maneuvers, the aggressive and grinding pressure of positional control, and the systematic movements involved with joint locks, and choke holds. 

What this article covers:

This can all have a negative impact on an athlete both physically, and mentally, and this is why self preservation is needed. Athletes will commonly take rest periods, so they do not overload their joints from the rigorous grind of combat sports like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Building up a significant strength and conditioning, as well as limbering up the body through stretching, and mobility exercises are becoming increasingly important in the modern era of combat sports.

Learn the secrets of using Yoga to develop all aspects of your BJJ game and your overall health from Sebastian Brosche.

yoga for bjj

Preparing an athlete's body for combat sports is crucial to longevity, and especially with grappling because of its connection with judo for bjj, and wrestling for bjj, the toll on an athlete's body is extensive. There are many different ways to improve an athlete's overall performance like flexibility, which is vital for each athlete, so they can improve their efficiency. Mobility is another key component, so the athlete has a greater range of motion within their movement. Building up core strength, and improving their cardiovascular ability will also benefit an athlete exponentially. This is why yoga is one of the most important additions to the training schedule of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes. Yoga has different levels, from easy stretching to comprehensive strength building, and mobility purposes. Utilising yoga is a great functional way to prepare an athlete physically, and mentally for battle.

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HOW YOGA CAN HELP WITH BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU

Yoga is the practise of a diverse collection of easy to extreme physical, mental, and spiritual exercises. The physical benefits that yoga presents for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a key component for improving flexibility, and increasing strength, and mobility. BJJ uses an extremely high energy system, coupled with a high impact on the joints, and the muscles. Practising yoga will help with elasticity within the muscles, and create a more durable, and flexible series of joints. This means that an athlete will be capable of a greater range of movements, and will become less prone to injuries. Along with these flexibility improvements, yoga can also build up a significant amount of core strength within the athlete's whole body. This will allow the athlete to be stronger in vulnerable positions, and will help them to sweep, or maneuver their way out of a dangerous situation.

Aside from the physical aspects of yoga there are also the spiritual, and mental characteristics involved. Yoga is practiced to help clear the mind, in order to focus more intently, and find the inner peace within the athlete. Like any task in life, doing it with a calm frame of mind, and an inner peace or happiness attached, is considerably beneficial to the athlete. All yoga practitioners will practice some form of meditation so they can relax on a deeper level, and allow a series of heightened senses to materialise. Another important aspect that yoga instills in its practitioners is breath control. Learning how to breathe for combat sports is vital to the success of any fighter. Yoga teaches principles in how to control an athlete's breathing, and using their respiratory system in a more defining way. Because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is heavily embedded as a ground fighting art, the necessity to control and regulate their breathing is paramount. Leveling out an athlete's energy system, and giving them a greater opportunity at maximising their efficiency, is one of the many benefits yoga has on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF FLEXIBILITY IN BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of those combat sports where athletes need to have a great range of flexibility in order to execute many of the movements. Sometimes being able to sweep, or submit an opponent requires flexible joints, and more durability within their muscles. Athletes can often be stifled underneath a heavy opponent, which can lead to being stretched in weird positions. Having a strong set of flexibility within their muscles is vital to surviving, and ultimately turning defense into an attack. Sometimes being able to escape from a submission, or a position requires an athlete to have flexible hips, so they can thread their leg back into a guard position. This might often be the same with threading frames back underneath an opponent's neck, and quite often athletes will need flexible shoulders, especially if an opponent is manipulating the joints into a vulnerable position.

This is why certain stretches are extremely important for athletes in the sport. Limbering up the right way before training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is vital to staying injury free, and maximising an athlete's performance. Athletes will need to know the difference between different types of stretching, as the common mistake athletes will make is diving straight into static stretches, which can damage an athlete's muscles. Using dynamic stretching, which are movement based stretches that get the blood flowing, is extremely important, and this is so the muscles are warmed up before they attempt deeper stretches.  Stretching before and after training will only help an athlete's overall flexibility, and can benefit the muscle structures in the long term.

STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING FOR BJJ

All athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu need to build up a comprehensive strength and conditioning level. The old saying that technique beats strength is a total myth, and maybe on some levels it is true, but in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, all high level athletes have outstanding technical proficiency. This means the stronger they are the more capable they are within their fights, so when an instructor says technique always beats strength, it is not one hundred percent the truth. Just imagine two athletes both with the same technical level of BJJ, but one has incredible strength, everyone knows who is going to win that match. To become a world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete, strength and conditioning is vital, and this is seen at the highest levels of BJJ, with athletes like Gordon Ryan, Felipe Pena, Andre Galvao, Nick Rodriguez, and Craig Jones.

There are many different types of strength and conditioning workouts that will help an athlete extensively with their strength building goals. Utilising weight lifting the right way can be beneficial for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete, especially if they use kettlebells in a way that is functional for BJJ. This means doing exercises like turkish get ups, kettlebell swings, and kettlebell lunges are extremely beneficial, and will help build up an incredible amount of core strength. Many of the core warm up movements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu incorporate strength and conditioning, with exercises like crunches, push ups, and many of the line drill movements like hip shrimping, sit throughs, and granby rolls can all be extremely helpful in building up core strength ability. 

Although BJJ does not require running or swimming in the sport, utilising these aspects can be extremely helpful in becoming fitter, which can only help to contribute to an athletes overall cardiovascular ability. Sprint interval training is one of the best methods of cardiovascular fitness, as it can simulate similar moments in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition match. This is because an athlete will commonly need a hard burst of energy, followed by only short periods of rest. Not only will sprinting help an athlete's cardiovascular fitness, it will also build significant strength within their core, and their quadricep muscles, which is important for many of the driving takedowns, and sweeping maneuvers within the sport.

MOBILITY FOR BJJ

Quite often athletes can get mobility, and flexibility mixed up, as they will think they are one and the same. Mobility is vital to an athlete's injury prevention methods, and for their long term health of many of their joints. Using mobility exercises like resistance band training, or rotational staff movements are crucial because not only do they help an athlete to extend their range of movement within their joint structure, they also help to build up significant strength within the joint. This translates into more mobile hips, knees, and shoulders, so athletes can have a more functional experience when they train. An athlete that has a great range of mobility will lead to an extended value of health, and will always help an athlete to escape from bad positions. For example, an athlete with great shoulder mobility will often be able to escape from submissions like the americana, and the kimura, as they will be able to move their shoulder to the mat with a greater range of motion. 


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IMPORTANT YOGA MOVEMENTS

There are many different yoga movements that can help athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many of the core functional exercises are one and the same with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu movements. These two arts are almost symbiotic with each other, as they both highly compliment one another. There are many different positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that are carbon copies of yoga movements, like the happy baby stretch, which is a yoga position where an athlete lays on their back with their legs stretched right out into almost a split position. This yoga stretch is crucial for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes, because it mimics an athlete that is playing open guard, when their opponent is attempting to pass. Building up this movement is vital to improving the athletes strength, mobility, and flexibility within their groins, and their hamstrings. 

The downward dog is another important yoga movement, which simulates an athlete attempting to pass an opponent's guard. The downward dog position involves an athlete standing, while their hands are planted on the mat, with their rear end extended into the air. Commonly in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when an athlete is passing their opponent's guard, they will be standing on their feet with their opponent lying on their back. From this position they will be looking to control the ankles, or the cuffs of the pants, as they attempt to throw the legs from side to side. During these transitions the athlete can pin both of the ankles straight down into the mat, which can represent the downward dog position. Becoming strong in this position by utilising this yoga movement, will help an athlete remain balanced so that their opponent can not escape, or execute any kind of sweeping maneuver.

The child's pose is when an athlete is on their hips low towards the mat, as they extend their arms out into a forward position. This yoga movement is important for BJJ athletes, not only because it simulates the turtle position, but it will also help with the mobility within their lower back. This yoga movement can work excellently in conjunction with the cobra stretch, which is when an athlete moves from the child's pose position, gliding their head upwards, as they place their hands firmly on the mat with their legs flat, and their hips to the mat. This is a good combination of yoga movements that athletes can utilise to increase their overall range of mobility, and build up strength and flexibility within their back.

Utilising the cat cow stretch in yoga is extremely functional for BJJ athletes. Quite often Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can have a heavy toll on an athlete's hips, lower back, and upper back. The cat cow stretch is a combination that starts with the cat, which is when an athlete stands on their hands and knees, with their bellies arched towards the mat, and their rear end extruding outwards. This is a stretch that can help the lower back, and the hips become more flexible, before moving into the cow position, which is the same position with an athlete's hands and knees on the mat, but with their back arching upwards towards the sky. This will help the upper back stretch out, and doing these two movements in conjunction, can be beneficial to athletes that suffer from extensive back pain.

Learn the secrets of using Yoga to develop all aspects of your BJJ game and your overall health from Sebastian Brosche.

bjj yoga

 The knees are extremely important for athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and this is because of the diverse range of movements used with their legs. Athletes are constantly threading their legs in and around their opponents limbs, so the necessity to have flexible, and more mobile knees is crucial. This is where the pigeon pose comes into effect, as this yoga position can highly benefit all athletes of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The pigeon pose is simply sitting on an athlete's rear end with their knee curled underneath them, and with their other leg stretched out backwards. For added stretch the athlete can place their abdomen on the mat, and stretch their arms out in a forward position, or they can simply tilt towards their hip, which can deepen the stretch within the glutes, and the knee area.

The plow pose is another important yoga position that all athletes need to learn. This is seen especially with modern day athletes, as they are commonly trying to invert into berimbolo attacks, or inverted leg entanglements. The plow pose effectively creates the same position as an inverted athlete, and utilising this position can help to create strength, flexibility, and trust within their own body, that their neck is safe. The position includes lying on an athlete's shoulders with their arms facing away from their head, and their hips over their face, with their legs stretching outwards. Athletes are wise to practice this position, as they can also add extra head movements that will simulate escaping their neck from different stacking positions. Once the athlete has mastered the plow pose they can use this yoga position to execute Jiu Jitsu movements like that granby roll, and this will help athletes to master their craft, and in this modern day of combat sports staying up with the trends is crucial for staying ahead of the pack.

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