Why Should You Train BJJ?
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has brought to light the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) in genuine one-on-one combat. The efficacy of BJJ was proven in the early days of the UFC by pitting masters of various martial arts against one another in fights that had very few rules.
In the first 5 UFC events Royce Gracie defeated opponents of various martial arts backgrounds, which proved beyond a reasonable doubt that BJJ was an essential component to the skill-set of any legitimate mixed martial artist.
The effectiveness of BJJ can continue to be seen in every MMA promotion, and every professional fighter has at least some experience training with BJJ black belts. T
he vindication of these techniques has sparked widespread interest in the realm of Brazilian ground fighting, and schools have begun to open around the world.
Nowadays, it is possible to find a Jiu Jitsu school in just about every major city, but many potential Jiu Jitsu students can not immediately afford the membership fees for a Jiu Jitsu school, or they do not wish to show up to their first day out of shape and completely uneducated in the art.
This is totally understandable, and it makes perfect sense to want to get into better shape and learn some moves before getting started. Even experienced BJJ players often workout at home!
Whether you are a beginner looking to learn the basic movements, or and experienced BJJ practitioner, training at home will help improve your BJJ game dramatically.
Here we'll discuss a variety of drills and exercises which will help you master this essential aspect of MMA.
High level BJJ practitioners continue to practice the basic movements on a regular basis. These movements are practiced in every legit BJJ academy around the world, and they are essential for developing and maintaining the functional movement patterns and required to execute all BJJ techniques.
By practicing these techniques on your own you will decrease your chances of getting hurt when you begin to spar against a training partner (also known as rolling in Jiu Jitsu).
Always make sure you are practicing in a safe environment. It may even be worth it to purchase some mats for your BJJ training area.
The Hip Escape
Also known as “shrimping”, this movement is the basis for a variety of more complex BJJ moves. If you ever walk into a BJJ academy and see students in lines sliding across the floor on their backs while popping their hips out to either side, this is the movement that they are drilling.
To practice this move at home, pick a spot on the floor (preferably on carpet) where you have some room to move around. Lay on your back and bend your right knee so your right foot touches the floor and keep your left leg flat on the ground.
Then, push down on your right foot to lift your hips, twisting your body so that your left side is facing down, and finally sliding your hips backward by extending your right leg completely.
Reset, and do the opposite on the other side of your body. This drill should be performed every single day because it is one of the most common movements used in BJJ sparring.
The Forward Roll
For this drill you may want to invest in some mats, and check to make sure you have enough room to do a complete roll without banging into the wall. Start in a kneeling position with your toes curled under. Bring your right arm across your body as you begin to lean forward.
Tilt your head to the left and push off your toes as you roll your weight over your right shoulder. Complete the drill by rolling completely back onto your knees.
Repeat this exercise on the opposite shoulder, and make sure that you are not bearing your weight on you head or neck as this could lead to injury.
By rolling on a consistent basis you will become more comfortable with the movement, so when it happens during training you will be less likely to receive and injury!
The Backward Roll
This drill may seem like just reversing the forward roll, but there are a few subtle difference. First of all, start in a seated position with your feet together in front of you. Pick a side, and roll backwards onto that shoulder.
To help stabilize and guide your roll, put your arms out to the sides and press your hands into the floor. Once again, avoid putting your weight on your head or neck to prevent injuries from occurring.
The Bear Crawl
This exercise can be performed inside or outside, but most people prefer to do it on a grass field. Simply get down on your hands and feet and crawl forwards, backwards and side to side.
It is important that you keep your knees off the ground to ensure that you are working your muscles. This exercise may look easy, but it becomes exhausting very quickly. Perform these daily to increase strength and endurance.
Here's a quick clip on how to bear crawl:
Much of the strength required to be good at Jiu Jitsu is muscular endurance, not raw lifting power. Many high level BJJ players use a fairly simple body-weight fitness program.
Here we outline some of the best exercises for functional strength that can be performed at home with no equipment necessary.
Burpees have become increasingly popular over the past few years as trendy fitness classes like Crossfit and Orange Theory have adopted the exercise, but this movement is as old as combat athletics.
Ancient Greeks and Romans used this exercise to train their wrestlers and soldiers.
It is a personal favorite exercise of former Navy Seal Task Unit Commander and BJJ Black Belt Jocko Willink, and can be used to deliver an extremely effective workout in under 15 minutes.
The exercise starts in the standing position. Bring your arms above your head and jump in the air. Then when you land bring your hands to the floor and hop your feet back into the push-up position.
Perform a push-up, then hop your feet back to your hands, stand up straight and repeat the process until you have achieved your ideal fitness level.
Just kidding, but seriously, this exercise can give you an incredibly workout when performed in high repetition. For added enjoyment (see: punishment) do these under a pull up bar, and every time you jump, grab the bar and do a pull-up.
Lunges are an excellent exercise for simultaneously increasing strength, endurance and mobility in your legs. Simply step forward with one leg and bring your back knee to the ground.
Do not smash your knee into the ground, but touch the ground very lightly. Then, push back off your front foot into your original standing position and execute the movement on the opposite side.
When starting this workout routine your body weight will be enough, but to challenge yourself further you can hold dumbbells or kettle bells in both hands.
Planking received some notice on social media over the past few years, appearing as a popular meme among fitness enthusiasts. This exercise develops muscular endurance of your core muscles including your abdominals, obliques and transverse abdominals.
In Jiu Jitsu, having a strong core is absolutely essential to success. There are several variations to this exercise. The low-plank is the most common, and it involves bearing your weight on your elbows and toes while maintaining tension across your abdominals.
The high-plank is similar, but you are up on your hands in a push-up position. The side-plank is a bit tricky, as it involves balancing on one hand and one foot while turning your body to the side and stacking your legs.
These three plank workouts should be cycled for increased intensity and effectiveness.
Regardless of your training regimen, the most important thing you can do is stay consistent. Start slow, but do not take long breaks from your exercises (unless you sustain a serious injury). Try to stay as consistent as possible, and good luck in your BJJ journey!