Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter cascao vital and runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
If you have ever stepped on mat to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you have most likely heard of our legend, Master Rickson Gracie. Arguably the greatest BJJ practionor of our time. He went undefeated in challenge matches, grappling competitions and MMA. Now, even though we admire his accomplishments and his skill level, there is one aspect that has always been intriguing, his breathing. We see him sit in a meditative posture and breath in a funky pattern until he manipulates his diaphragm like nobody has seen. But there is a point to his breathing madness, and it can help you.
I asked Rickson about his breathing at a seminar a while back and what came out of his mouth changed my perspective on this aspect forever.
He started by pointing out the fact that when your heart rate, your adrenalin and your cardiovascular system is taxed, cognitive ability drops and your motor skills functionality goes down as well. By controlling the breath, you can control all of these functions and more.
So when Rickson would step on the mat or in the ring, he would use his breathing to keep his heart rate at 80-90 beats per minute (BPM). The opponents number, just with nervous and anxiety would be at 100-110 bpm. Once the fight began, Rickson would put out an intensity that would redline him and his opponent early in the fight. By bringing the heartrate to 180 plus, he not only hinders his opponents ability to think and move effectively, but without proper breathing tactics, the opponent will never be able to physically recover. Rickson on the other hand would get in a dominate position and use his breathing to bring his heartrate back down to 120 bpm while his opponent was still in the red zone. This recovery time would only take 30 seconds or so. Once there, the body feels fresh and ready to go and it becomes child play to overtake the opponent.
We know it’s effective, we have seen it tested in action, we want to have this skill, but how do we practice this art?
Rickson said that there are many paths that can be taken to practice your breathing, whether it is pranayama yoga or even deep sea diving, the path is yours to choose. The key elements you need to remember though are:
1. Use the lungs fully when breathing, not shallow chest breaths, but low belly breaths.
2. Use slow deep breaths with short to mid length holds on the inhale and exhales.
3. Practice your breathing in different scenarios: sitting, lying, in between rounds, during a roll when in a dominant position, when in a bad position and even when your in an highly emotional mindset.
Rickson often reminds us that the breathing aspect and breath training takes a higher priority for him then the actual techniques of Jiu-jitsu. I am humble enough to admit that in the area of BJJ and martial arts, Master Rickson knows better then me. I have implemented his breathing tactics and strategies and have found nothing but positive success from them. So give it a try and be patient, we might not reach his level of diaphragm manipulation, but the benefits are obtainable and will be well worth the effort.
Now that you’re ready to start squeezing a little bit of yoga into your day, check out Josh Stockman’s newest release “Grappling with Yoga” available here from BJJ Fanatics! In these 4 volumes, you will get all of the techniques that keep black belt Josh Stockman on the mats, flexible and healthy.