Want to Breath Better For Jiu-Jitsu? Use Your Diaphragm!

Want to Breath Better For Jiu-Jitsu? Use Your Diaphragm!


If you have ever rolled with a BJJ master or advanced practitioner, what is something that distinguishes them from regular BJJ players? We’re not talking about just superior technique but the way they breath. Very often you will notice that they are breathing a controlled and calm manner, with regular intervals. Some of them even have patterns for example: 2 short inhales through the nose followed by a long exhale through the nose. Your opponent huffing and puffing is also a sign that he’s gassing and that it would be the right time for you to take advantage of the situation.

Many of us of breath in the wrong way in our everyday lives by only using our lungs. it is better to use your diaphragm instead. breathing that way is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the chest cavity and stomach cavity. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing.

This deep breathing is marked by expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest when breathing. It is considered by some to be a healthier and fuller way to ingest oxygen, and is sometimes used as a therapy for hyperventilation, anxiety disorders and stuttering.

To breathe diaphragmatically, or with the diaphragm, one must draw air into the lungs in a way which will expand the stomach and not the chest. It is best to perform these breaths as long, slow intakes of air – allowing the body to absorb all of the inhaled oxygen while simultaneously relaxing the breather. 

Why breath this way: Diaphragmatic breathing actually fills up the majority of the lungs with oxygen – up to 50% more than chest-breathing or shallow breathing.

How To Breath this way:
A sample exercise
A common diaphragmatic breathing exercise is as follows:
Sit or lie comfortably, with loose garments.
Put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
Slowly inhale through your nose or through pursed lips (to slow down the intake of breath).
As you inhale, push your belly/ stomach out and feel your stomach expand with your hand.

Benefits: Deep breathing exercises are a form of relaxation, and therefore, when practiced regularly, lead to the relief or prevention of symptoms commonly associated with stress, which may include high blood pressure, headaches, stomach conditions, depression, anxiety, and others. Performing diaphragmatic breathing can be therapeutic, and with enough practice, can become a standard way of breathing.

Using the O2 trainer to work on my diaphragmatic breathing

I have recently started to use Bas Rutten’s O2 trainer, which I purchased here . The O2 Trainer restricts air intake to strengthen abdominal muscles and regulate your breathing from training your body to increase air intake with every breath. The O2 Trainer was based on a simple, yet powerful concept. By controlling air intake, you immediately begin breathing the right way – using your diaphragm. The smaller the air intake hole, the harder your lungs need to work to pull air in, strengthening and condition the diaphragm muscles.

With the o2trainer, you just put it in your mouth and you immediately start breath correctly. The great thing with this device is that you can control the air intake. Either you use the standard 14 mm (working out) or increase difficulty levels by using a 1mm hole for air intake. (breathing exercises while at home). I have have felt real benefits while in hard rolls and I feel that my breathing is always regular and controlled.

So as a summary, next time you roll, try to control your breathing. Try as much as possible to use your diaphragm and remember that when you start feeling like you are gassing, take 2 or 3 deep breaths and continue fighting!