If You’re Breathing Through Your Mouth During A Roll You’re Using Too Much Strength

If You’re Breathing Through Your Mouth During A Roll You’re Using Too Much Strength

Photo by Daria Kochetkova Photography. IG: Tebezvonu.

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to how intense you should be rolling day in and out. Intensity often gets misinterpreted as strength. One bjj great is of the opinion that you should be using your rolls to the maximum intensity – but note this doesn’t mean maximum of strength.

Below are two gifs -both covering the span of 3 seconds but done with very different intensity levels.


The difference in intensity is staggering – it’s almost as if the 2nd bit has been sped up – which it hasn’t been. You can view the whole clip here.

As far as John Danaher goes he also sees on to say that using too much strength has quite a few possible drawbacks citing:

“The problem is however, that training at maximum intensity usually has two effects.

First, it tends to increase the severity and frequency of physical injuries which can often harm progress.
Second, when we operate at maximum intensity, most athletes will limit themselves to their favorite moves (tokui waza) as these work best in tough situations.

The result is that if we always train in this manner, our skill set does not expand as we limit ourselves to our current tokui waza.”

Steve Maxwell, one of the bjj dirty dozen recently shared on the BJJ Brick podcast what makes for too much strength and what’s optimal to make sure your technique isn’t suffering.

Maxwell is one of the top fitness coaches out there and here’s what he thinks on the subject:

“The way you know that – if you get winded in training you’re using too much power. That’s how you know. If you’re winded and you’re out of breath and especially if you’re mouth breathing first of all you’re doing yourself a great harm. You’re really harming your health by going to the mouth. As the old saying goes mouth is for eating nose is for breathing. You don’t breathe in through the pie hole…”

“This is one of the great secrets to endurance on the mat. When you exceed your breath capacity that means you’re using too much power. You need to calm down and relax. Now I’m not talking about going out there and trying to win a gold medal over at the worlds… There you can do anything.”

Maxwell continued: ” I’m talking about normal training for the most part.”

But what if you’re aiming for that gold medal, should you be still staying under that 60% strenggth range Maxwell recommends?

“Most of the time when they’re in the gym, they want to develop their skillset as high as possible. And try to use as little power as possible. That’s part of the skills in jiu jitsu. Part of the skill is making the other guy tired. Making him pull his gas while you’re conserving energy. That’s an actual skill onto itself. I remember wrestling with Saulo Ribeiro and he could make me tap without even using his hands. It sounds unbelievable right?”

He describes rolling with Ribeiro brothers:

“That’s just it, he wasn’t using any power. He just knew how to use his weight, make me carry his weight – make me struggle, make me work. His brother Xande – same thing.”

“I’ve seen Roger Gracie completely gass people out and I’ve never seen him use a technique any blue belt wouldn’t know. “