By Erin Herle
If you were to ask Jiu Jitsu legend Marcelo Garcia how to get better at Jiu Jitsu, he would say to just train. But the greatest of all time, who made his mark on the history of BJJ competition, is an anomaly. People like me, a black belt with over ten years of training and competition experience, will agree that for us normal people, conditioning and injury will bring more success on the mats.
If you’re a competitor, conditioning will help you withstand multiple matches in a day as you move up the bracket to gold. If you’re a hobbyist, conditioning will help you recover faster between training sessions. Either way, conditioning your body to tolerate and withstand specific movements/situations will make the most out of your time on the mats.
The longer I train, the more grateful I am for my body’s ability to evolve and grow. Conditioning and recovery are key for this growth. I’ve compiled a list of goals for conditioning and its importance as well as some equipment from Nogi BJJ Gear that will help you achieve these goals:
Become accustomed to resistance from an opponent’s body weight.
When we train Jiu Jitsu, whether playing guard or passing, we must be able to resist the weight of our opponent. Push and pull are the basic mechanics of Jiu Jitsu so training to do just that can be done outside of the mat.
A sandbag is perfect for resistance training. A bag simulates the resistance from a person’s weight, which is not solid or stable. Think of all the time you’re pushing and pulling within a jiu jitsu roll. Defending your guard, escaping from bottom side control, staying dominant in back mount.
Sand moves within the bag as you lift, swing, squat, and anything else. It imitates the shifting movement of an opponent in BJJ. The workouts you do with a sandbag are full body and can emulate movements you do on the mats. Build up the necessary muscles and joints that facilitate in a specific BJJ move and you can modify for your game and assets/weaknesses.
Gain a solid base for moving and balancing.
Footwork is one of the most underrated aspects of BJJ. I will admit that I struggled with moving my feet in a way that would evade my opponent’s attacks while placing myself in the right position to pass guard. A speed ladder improves speed, precision, and will adapt to the dynamics of passing the guard.
Despite being on the ground for most of the sport, a passer is only as good as his or her footwork. Being able to control grips from the bottom, pass even the trickiest of guards, not giving your opponent your weight, which in turn gives them control of your body and movement. The ladder allows for you to speed up your feet, train complex movements, learn to react quicker to weight distribution issues.
A stability ball can also help with balance and base. All of BJJ on the ground comes from your core. Every limb and appendage is attached to your torso, which keeps you safe and capable of attacking. Nine out of ten times you can find me playing guard in all of my rolls, so my core is essential.
The number one defense I have towards an aggressive passer is to keep my knees tight to my chest. I like to extend my legs only when I am working a specific set up for a sweep or submission and when I feel any danger, I bring my knees back to my chest. In order to have power, using the Stability Workout Ball from Nogi BJJ Gear used for core exercises is perfect for the dynamic movements we do on the mats.
Get a strong grip that will last through full techniques.
Grip is everything when it comes to catching and submitting an opponent. When I won the 2015 Nogi Worlds at brown belt, I relied on my grips to secure my two submissions that won me the gold— toehold and wristlock.
\When sweat joins the grappling equation, it will come down to how long and well you can hold on to your opponent. Wrist strength is important for maintaining posture, breaking grips in the gi and nogi, and techniques that require posting on the mat or your opponent’s body.
So the strength of your hands can determine whether you get the takedown or not, or if you can complete a submission chain to end the match. The BJJ Ultimate Grip Strengthener comes with three different tools: Metal 10-60kg Hand Grips, Hand Grip Exerciser, and the Finger Grip. Don’t let a weak grip prevent you from completing your favorite moves!
Gain more finger dexterity for grips and defense.
The first guard I ever truly used was spider guard. After training extensively with spider guard expert Romulo Barral, I learned to use my feet on the biceps to create distance with my training partners who were all much bigger than me.
Finger dexterity for Jiu Jitsu is essential with guards like spider guard that rely on gi grips. Being able to grip the gi and not have to let go because of fatigue or pain is a flex on the mats.
When you train for a while, calluses form, cartilage gets damaged so bone regrows in a painful process. If you work on your finger dexterity early on, you can forgo the growing pains. The Silicone Finger Gripper from Nogi BJJ Gear can help you with this. Fingers need to have flexibility and strength to modify grips at any time so use a finger strengthener to practice your grips anytime, anywhere.
Rescue your muscles from soreness and tightness.
The foam roller is my best friend. I use it before and after a workout or training session because it warms up my muscles and helps recover faster. It releases the fascia of muscles to allow for more flexibility and elasticity.
The Reflex Foam Roller Set from Nogi BJJ Gear comes with a high density EVA foam roller and two different lacrosse ball sets—one ball and two balls. The roller can be used over major areas like back, legs, shoulders, etc. The lacrosse balls are to be used either leaning against a wall or on the ground. They find the spots of pain or stiffness and get into the smaller spaces of your muscles.
Warming up with this set will help prevent injury during your training sessions and will allow for better movement throughout. Post-workout use will help relieve any late onset muscle soreness.
Where to find these tools
Unless you want to just peruse amazon to find all these, you can save time and go to one place that sells equipment geared for Jiu Jitsu practitioners— Nogi BJJ Gear. It’s a great all-in-one site that lets you purchase training gear and training equipment in one spot.
Right now NoGi offers 55% store wide on their products! Click here to go to the store.
For 10% off, use this discount code at checkout: GracieMag
Rash guards, too!
Not only do they have home equipment gear, but they also have rash guards, spats, and other wearable gear for your every-day training needs. In fact, their rash guards come complete with double layer joint padding technology. This new technology gives extra support in the elbow area to protect your joints and common wear and tear.
We often use our elbows to post, transition, and stabilize positions in Jiu Jitsu. In gi and nogi, the friction caused by such movements can either rip the rash guard or even create bursitis from overuse of the elbow.
Protect your joints and your skin from overuse with this specialized padding and technology.
Head to www.NoGiBJJGear.com to enjoy 55% off site wide. NoGi BJJ gear is your one stop shop for all your training, recovery, and conditioning needs.