Fine Tuning Your Breathing For Optimal Performance In Jiu-Jitsu

Fine Tuning Your Breathing For Optimal Performance In Jiu-Jitsu

Breathing for BJJ?


You’re at the last 5 minutes of training, you’re rolling with a stronger, heavier yet lower belt. You are already at the end of you capacities, breathing hard and trying to hide your lack of breath. Your smile is less than honest, you pull guard not because you aim for a sweep or an armbar setup, but because all you need is a minute rest to operate at your minimum. You start breathing hard, and you remember, you need even more oxygen, so you add even more breath – what somehow even makes everything worst. What the hell you ask…So you spend all 5 minutes in your own guard making the roll absolute nonsense for you and your partner.




Sure, you go home, and you will google how to improve my BJJ cardio, and you get plenty of useless articles, and a ton of equipment advertisement. You are already busy, so most likely the idea to start adding HIIT sessions to your life is out of the question, so now what?


Have you ever tought about breathing training? Or did you ever read about Buteyko breating? Most probably not, and that is not your mistake. And even if you did, most probably from your asthma sufferer uncle, who got miracously healed by this method. But could you use this to improve your cardio for BJJ? The Buteyko breathing method can help you, in our case I strongly recommend the Advanced Buteyko Institute, where we work normal people and high level athletes. K.P. Buteyko, MD, is a famous Russian – now Ukraine –  physiologist whose contribution into the field of medicine could be compared to Einstein’s role in physics in our opinion. He created a new health philosophy as well as its practical application, which saved the lives and improved the health conditions of numerous people around the globe. Dr. Buteyko discovered that over-breathing is extremely damaging for health and that many health problems could be stopped by the Buteyko Method.



We are working with some top athletes in Hungary – European handball, judo, mma, brazilian jiu jitsu – and I came to a very interesting conclusion many years ago. Most athletes does not breathe well. No surprise, most people does not breath well. Most people hyperventilate and to do so, they are mouth breathers.


Do you wake up with a dry mouth? Do you have above average dental issues? Are you snoring? When you wake up at the morning, you feel like you rolled all night long and did not rest at all?


Most likely you are part of the 80% of the population, who actually breath more what you need, aka you hyperventillate. I know, you heard, you need more oxygen. But that is not true. Oxygen is naturally much needed for staying alive, but nitric oxide and carbondioxide is also big part of the breathing cycle, so it is a 3 actor show. In fact, you need a certain ammount of CO2, to be able to use oxygen ont he cellular level. CO2 is somehow acting different in the human body, than out of it, for examply helping to relax the smooth muscles. When smooth muscles constrict, capillaries are tighten up, your hear rate jump up.Anxiety, nervousness is also can be caused by high low level of CO2 in the tissues. Nitric oxide is another amazing gas, created in the nasal cavities. If you are mouth breather, you dont get this amazing anti-bacterial gas, what also acts as neurotransmitter. So again, there is a very sensitive ratio between the 3 gases, and having more or less of them might turn you acid/alkaline base upside down. Ok, I already went wy too far, who cares about all the woo woo, let’s see what are the steps to make you a better fighter. The beauty of the Buteyko Method is testing and training – since we can measure everything we need for the re-training and with dedicated work, we can improve our numbers.


Know you easy breath hold time (EBH) – you will need a timer

Breathe in and out sitting, very relaxed for about 10 minuntes.

At one point after a not forced breath out and pinch your nose.

Soon air hunger will build up, and at the first sign, stop the timer, unpinch your nose. At ghis point, you should be able to breath normal.

Now, we have your EBH time.


What is your number?

Most of our athletes around 15 seconds, what means they surely hyperventillate. The number we aim for is an easy 40 second breath hold after breathing out. To reach that takes time and dedication, but so does BJJ, so no surprises.  Now, you might say – but more is is better. Not so much. More air might contain more pollens and other particles, and bretahing through your mouth creates an unwanted situation, when you don’t use your nose as a filter and humidifier. So the air go to your lungs are not only dry but might be polluted, creating all kind of breathing issues, like allergy, dry mouth, asthma. So, if your number 15 seconds, you breath about 15-20 litres/minute, while the medical norm is around 7 litres.