Written by Matt D’Aquino, a multiple Australian and Oceania Champion and a 2008 Beijing Judo Olympian. He has been studying Judo for over 23 years. He is a 3rd Degree Black belt and a brown belt in BJJ. Matt has also come out with a great new kettlebell DVD set taylor made for grapplers: Kettlebells for Grapplers.
Over the last 20 years we have seen so many fitness fads come and go, but the kettlebell has stood the test of time….and that’s because kettlebell training works.
Over the years I have found that if I am unfit then my grappling isn’t as smooth or as effective but if I am fit and strong, my grappling becomes way more efficient.
All grapplers need to be fit, strong, and agile as well as contain enough mobility in our joints to survive being pushed, pulled and twisted into every direction.
Look at a lot of the top lranked grapplers around the world and you can see that they all follow some sort of explosive strength and conditioning program which include kettlebell techniques.
Here are my 8 reasons why grapplers need to use kettlebells regularly.
1. Increase Overall Strength –
Grappling is hard…and every grappler needs full body strength. When you are grappling you are using every single muscle in the body and the great thing with kettlebells is that they strengthen your ENTIRE body. Movements such as the kettlebell swing and turkish get up target every muscle – making you functionally strong for grappling.
2. Increase your gas tank
When you are out of shape, unfit and untrained you will suffer both physically and mentally in training and in competition. The great things is that kettlebell training will make your heart rate skyrocket resulting in you getting fit in a short amount of time!
Movements such as the kettlebell swing and snatch will push your cardio to the limit and get you in the best shape of your life!
3. Hip drive
Kettlebell trainers pride themselves on having amazing hip power and explosiveness. Hip power if vital for hip throws in Judo as well as escaping side control and sprawling while defending a double leg. In every program of Kettlebells for Grapplers you will be performing a number of kettlebell swings which will develop a huge amount of hip power than will greatly assist your grappling game.
4. Overall Explosiveness
Everyone has rolled that guy at training who is super explosive and cuts through your guard with ease. Due to the ballistic nature of kettlebells you will automatically develop explosive power. Movements such as swings, snatches, cleans and presses all assist in increasing explosiveness which will help you throw more people, shoot harder for double legs and easily pass your opponents guard
5. Grip Strength
Grip strength is needed to finish those gi chokes that aren’t quite on as well as breaking your opponents grip in Judo and BJJ. Gripping the kettlebell handle for more than five minutes will have your forearms screaming for you to stop. This in turn will quickly develop your grip strength and overall endurance.
6. Functional Strength
Have you ever wrestled someone who can barely bench press 60lbs but when you have wrestled them they are as strong as an Ox? That’s functional strength and functional strength is being strong when it matters most. I can tell you right now I would rather be as strong as an ox on the mat and weak in the gym then being strong in the gym and weak on the mat. Kettlebell training helps you get functionally strong which will instantly benefit your grappling game.
7. Core Strength
I am sure you have heard many times that everything you do stems form the core region and that its also true for fighters. Those athletes with weak a core will get expose very quickly and will fall behind in training and overall improvement. Kettlebell training puts a high demand on the core region, which will help you strengthen this region. Abdominal rotational and anti-rotational strength is important for striking, grappling and in throwing sports like Judo.
8. Joint mobility and stability
Due to the range of movement you go through when using kettlebells your joints are going to get a lot stronger and more stable. This is great news for grapplers (especially submission grapplers) because when your joints are constantly under pressure you are more susceptible to injury. Having strong and stable muscles is a great way to avoid injury and be able to fight and train to the best of your ability.
Here are 3 kettlebell workouts you can implement a few days a week to develop and stronger body for grappling. If you are new to kettlebells then I suggest you start with a 12kg or 16kg kettlebell if you are a male and a 6-8kg kettlebell if you are a female. If you are an experienced trainer then use a 24kg (for men) and a 16kg (for female).
60 sec kettlebell swings
60 seconds Clean and presses
60 seconds sumo deadlift high pull
Repeat 3-5 rounds depednig on your fitness level
50 kb squats
50 military presses
100 Kettlebell swings
25 kb squats
25 military presses
50 Kettlebell swings
12 kb squats
12 military presses
25 Kettlebell swings
One hand KB Swings for 5 minutes straight try to get as many swings as possible.