BJJ Performance Characteristics Part 2 of 2, The Training Aspects!

| February 1, 2016 | 0 Comments



1.) Technique Training is NEVER to be Undervalued

The first and most obvious conclusion we can make about the training process from our high value of technique is that technical training is never to be undervalued. And yeah, sure, we’ve all heard it a million times before: Technique is super important, etc etc, but what does that imply for the actual day-to-day training process at the gym? In a word: drilling. Drilling often and for extended periods is what fundamentally allows you to learn and improve techniques. Live rolling sharpens your ability to use them, but drilling hammers them in before they’ll ever be a part of your live repertoire.

“Drillers make killers”

Everyone seems to know this, but some of the guys at every gym seem to think that technique drilling is a time for chitchat rather than the very core of what makes you better at BJJ. It’s not hard to understand the temptation, cause let’s be honest, drilling can get quite boring from time to time if you’ve already gone thru the movement many times. But when you do things in repetition they  make you better, not just the fun things by themselves.

So, much of our time in BJJ training needs to focus on technique acquisition and practice, but a bit more can be said in that regard. MUCH practice needs to be on the BASICS, and the temptation to introduce exotic moves on a daily basis needs to be held at bay. You can become good by executing crisp technique that your opponent has rarely seen, but you become GREAT by mastering the basic BJJ staples such as arm bars, triangles, mount escapes, side control strategies, and the like to the point of near-perfection. And once again, it can get boring to practice moves you “already know,” but that’s the name of the game. Thinking of basic move practice as a step on the road to perfection rather than an exercise in pointlessness may help.

2.)  Keep Strength-Power Training in the Weightroom

If you’re serious about maximally improving your game, you need to train in the weight room. We were gonna make some clever intro to this point, but there no plainer way to state this. While BJJ training is potentially very cardiovascular-exhaustive and does provide high forces to the muscles, it’s usually not enough directed overload for the muscles to make someone who’s already in shape much stronger.

The “already in shape” part is a big factor. When just starting out, just rolling is enough to improve strength and power levels considerably. However, after about a year, strength improvements start to level off as the body becomes quite accustomed to the stresses of BJJ. In fact, because your technique improves over this time, you end up using your strength at more strategic times and in shorter bursts, which means you’re actually using it less.

Because your body gets used to the forces of rolling and you’re actually using your maximal strength and power more judiciously, you need to supplement your rolling with additional strength training/power training.

We have to keep in mind that BJJ is a whole-body, brutal combat sport – no frou-frou bull crap or fancy machines will do. Your best friends are the hardcore compound barbell and bodyweight movements, often in the 4-6 repetition range: squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull-ups, rows, shoulder presses, upright rows, and the like. Twice a week of whole-body work is a very good start for most. More experienced lifters may consider 4x per week upper/lower splits, and higher belts should likely integrate dedicated power training based highly on the Olympic weightlifting movements.

All details aside, if you want to be your best at ANY sport, weight room work is a big part of training. Not the biggest part by far, but important nonetheless. If you want to become the best BJJ player, train with weights to get stronger, period.

3.) Endurance Training: Best Done on Mats

Unlike weight training, it turns out that the best way to train endurance is to be on the mats!  The hands-down best way to develop specific endurance for BJJ is to roll! It doesn’t always have to be standard time period live rolling, either. Short rounds with fast partner rotations (2 minutes), positional rolling, and “man in the hole” drills are a great way to improve your endurance while also getting technically better at Jiu Jitsu. And that’s really the important point here: Why train JUST endurance by running on a track when you could be training endurance and technique and psychology at the same time by rolling!

There’s just one small caveat to the “roll for endurance” recommendation. There are phases of training (to be discussed in the upcoming section on BJJ periodization) in which less rolling is actually more beneficial. In order to keep up endurance during those phases, extra non-rolling work can be integrated several times per week. Good modalities for this are sprint swimming intervals, the rower machine (ergometer), and the elliptical. All are non-impact (BJJ is fun for the joints as it is) and are very conducive for the kind of high intensity interval training that works best for BJJ endurance.

4.) Psychological Approach must be PRACTICED

Psychological factors are very important for BJJ success, but what exactly does this mean for the training process? One major implication is that positive psychological traits while rolling need to be coached. The best way to coach is by example. If your coach is like most upper belts, watch and learn from them. They will usually display much more of the kind of attributes during rolling than your average lower rank belt will. And don’t just watch them, ask them about their psyche approach to get insights as to your own implementation.

Learning by example is the first step, and doing it yourself is the second. Every time you live roll, try to channel the kind of psychological approach that your coaches and higher belts do. You’ll lose focus, crack up, and even freak out much more than they will at first, but don’t give up. Psychological training takes a long time and is often the most resistant to change. After months and years, you’ll have a distinctly more positive and effective mindset when rolling. The trick is, you have to keep practicing and not just going on autopilot with bad habits. If you freak out, fine, collect yourself, apologize if needed to your rolling partners, and move on. But the next time you WANT to freak out, you’ll have better chance of stopping yourself before you do, calming down, re-focusing, and executing the powerful techniques that are your best bet for improving your position. Yes, even when the gym ultra-heavy is squeezing you in side control like a tube of toothpaste!




Category: Fireside Chat, J3 "Just Jiu Jitsu", News

About the Author ()

I'm a born and raised New Englander, I've been around the MMA and BJJ circuits for years dating back to 2005. A Maine native, BJJ brown belt, and ABC certified MMA referee. I'm a grammatical nightmare but hey, you'll get the point. Being a dump truck physically and a blunt object mentally allows me to see the finer points within the sport of BJJ, without being compromised via politics, biased, racism, sexism or negativity. I've been around the country, as a medic, referee, setup crew, breakdown crew, driver, and everything in between that a promotion has needed in order to gain the inside intel on today's world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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