Taking your BJJ skills to the next level requires you to step out of your comfort zone, and sacrifice or compromise some elements in your daily routine to stay on top. It can range anywhere between adding veggies to your dinner plate every night, or spending extra time after class to redo a move until it becomes second nature. Changes may be big or small, will only further your performance on the mats. Here are eight essential tips to improving your BJJ game:
Cardio Outside the Academy:
Doing cardio can only help you while training BJJ. A lot of people dislike going to the gym to do cardio because they claim the workouts are boring. However, there are some different ways of getting your endurance levels up, and a good sweat in, without the boredom.“Insanity Workouts” is a DVD fitness plan that offers different types of core workouts, that are aimed towards “HIIT,” an acronym for High-Intensity Interval Training.
These short, intense training methods demand 100 percent full body effort, with short periods of recovery time. This will bring your metabolism and energy levels up, and push you to get better endurance while training. It will also provide stronger and more able lung capacity for training.
If you’re too tired to do HIIT, or have some time to spare before/after practice, try jogging. Doing a five or six mile run is not necessary, but a light jog that gets your blood circulating and your body heat rising will help you a great deal on the mat, especially when it comes down to lasting in more sparring rounds.
Drill and Roll After Class:
Maybe you weren’t comfortable with your training partner, or you couldn’t grasp the steps to that new move the instructor showed, so spending extra time on the mats after class is great for memorizing a tough move. Usually academies give open mat time after class, so take advantage of it. Pick a more skilled partner and work on the things you have been learning all week. This forces you to retain the technique you did in class that day, and rolling helps you put it into practice.
Use What You Learned:
Try to apply whatever you’ve learned in class on a particular day while it’s still fresh in your mind. Your opponent may have to use a little more skill and ingenuity to be able to get out of the technique you both just learned. And that challenges each person equally.
Mat Time Rules:
YouTube studying is good, but it won’t really earn you much credit unless you put it to practice. If you can, squeeze in an extra day of BJJ into your schedule, so it gives you an hour or two extra mat time to keep practicing and continue to further your knowledge. On the other hand, don’t go overboard as it may lead you to a plateau and burnout.
It won’t hurt you to take a couple days to a week off to rest your body. If you do end up hitting a plateau, one or two weeks off is essential to allow your mind to rest, stay fresh, and continue on absorbing new moves when you return to serious training. Being away from training can make you feel starved of it. If you’re invested in BJJ enough, then you’ll be thinking about different escapes, and submissions to use when you come back, which will make your return even more productive.
It’s very important to fuel yourself before BJJ. Drink a decent amount of water daily. A lack of water could result in cramping during training. Do your body a favor and keep it hydrated. Fuel also entails food. Having the proper nutrition will allow you to be able to generate more energy, increase your brain power, and physical strength. Plan proper meals, which include simple carbohydrates such as fruit, that quickly digest and almost instantly turn into a source of energy, are recommended before a training session. Complex carbs, such as green vegetables, beans, or whole grains are best consumed after training. In the end, it all comes down to what you’re comfortable with, which can mean slow releasing carbohydrates throughout the day, or spiking it up before the training for that extra push. But whatever your preference, always have something light and sustainable to get you through practice.
Go Hard or Go Home:
If you feel like you’re accomplishing a move successfully, and you want to take it to the next level, then before rolling with someone, go ahead and let them know what you’re going to submit them with. The benefit to doing this is that they’re going to try everything to avoid that submission, and that’s actually great for you because it will force you to fight harder to reach that position. When you know your partner is doing everything to stop it, and you succeed anyway, it makes your win so much sweeter. Different opponents will try and avoid it in a myriad of different ways, which will allow you a chance to focus on improving your game with a variety of defenses.
In any life situation, it’s important to have fun! If there’s something that’s causing you unhappiness at training, it’s best to bring it up. If you have a problem with the cleanliness of the academy, or the distance it takes you to get to training, or if it’s close to you and you’re not happy there, then find solutions to those problems right away. They will make your BJJ journey a more enjoyable one. You should go to Jiu-Jitsu and be happy and have fun doing it. Make it fun by finding creative moves to challenge yourself, as well as your partner. Check in with your teammates often. If you’re doing something you enjoy and feel comfortable with, it’s going to improve your learning curve greatly.