Training for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
At Lift Lab we have come to train quite a bit of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competitors. BJJ is a niche sport much like Weightlifting. There are many thoughts out there on better and worse ways to train football players, basketball players, baseball players, etc. I thought I would give you some thoughts as to how we train athletes that come to us in a niche sport, like BJJ.
When first assessing an athlete, no matter who they are, we need to find what they have and what they lack. The goal then is to keep them excelling at what they have, and then get them a bit better at what they don’t have.
So, let’s take a look at what many BJJ athletes need when they come to us.
It’s usually good to look at things from a movement perspective first. If we can find where people are limited from a movement perspective, then we can start to identify how those limitations might be limiting their performance in their sport. To take an outside example, if we see that a pitcher has limited flexion at the shoulder, we can make an educated guess that their performance might be limited on the mound.
So, let’s actually look at Jiu-Jitsu now. In BJJ, there is a lot of time spent moving on the ground. To be an efficient mover on the ground we need to have access to a wide array of movement from our spine. If we have a back that is stiff, we can predict that we might not be very good at making dynamic movements on the ground and off of our back.
So, what can we do to assess and increase movement variability through the spine?
An easy assessment to see how athletes move through their spine is a simple rocking exercise.
We can also use this exercise as a training tool to improve movement variability and increase someone’s ability to flex at their spine. Other ways to do this are by different variations of “core” exercises where the athlete has to hold positions of the spine that they aren’t used to holding or have a hard time holding. Such exercises may include bear crawl holds, bear crawls, and deadbug variations.