Sunday, July 26, 2015

Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu: Generally Speaking

Question: Which off-mat, general conditioning technique is best for the jiu-jitsu artist?  

A. Running
B. Cycling
C. Rowing
D. Climbing
E. Other

Answer: A few years ago, a teammate and fellow black belt talked about how his BMX cycling was helping his guard work, and I've been intrigued ever since.

Now that I've joined a commercial gym and have access to a few resources, I'm going to start doing more of my general aerobic work on the bike instead of the treadmill or box step.

The "why" here is straightforward.  Pedaling doesn't exactly mimic the kind of extending and contracting with the legs that takes place in the guard (especially the open guard).  But it is impressively close - especially when we remember that we are talking about general rather than specific conditioning in this instance.

I'm also a big fan of rowing. In fact, I'm thinking that a combination of cycling and rowing might be optimal forms of general conditioning for jiu-jitsu artists. Both provide opportunities to improve aerobic capacity/output and power through LSD and intervals. And even though it's hard to advocate additional sitting in anyone's life, there's a strong argument that cycling might trump running for jiu-jitsu artists looking for conditioning techniques that are both effective and mimic as much as possible jiu-jitsu movements.

Rowing involves a great degree of upper body, horizontal pulling - which also has especially guard-friendly applications in terms of general conditioning. Like cycling, rowing has the "sitting down problem", but insofar as we're focused on which general conditioning activities are most supportive of jiu-jitsu, the benefits of 20-30 minutes cycling or rowing likely outweigh the downside of further improving the weight-bearing ability of your backside.

As for climbing, I think climbing as a conditioning strategy for jiu-jitsu is a perfect example of the "jiu-jitsu is isometric" fallacy that you still hear from some folks from time to time.

And with regard to the "Other" category, there are general conditioning strategies and resources, the most interesting to me being tools like the Versaclimber. And while the VersaClimber is a very attractive piece of equipment, most people have a much harder time accessing one compared to a bike or even a rowing machine - to say nothing of a treadmill, track, or trail.



Read previous installments of my Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu series:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Metrics: July 13 - 18



Training Days: Tue / Thu 

Four Week training average: 2.25

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 12

Strength & Conditioning
HICT (100 hipscapes) - Tue
HICT (100 hipscapes) - Thu

Weight
156.6 lbs - Tue
157.4 lbs - Thu

Live Training
none

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Why I Fight: Conor McGregor

“I didn’t get into this game because of the sport, or because of sport. I was never interested in sport fighting. When I started training for combat sports, for self- defense, it was never to win a national title or never to win anything like that. I don’t give a shit about that. 
I done it to be able to defend myself in any situation that I found myself in. Because I felt if I was finding myself in any situation, I wanted to be able to be comfortable in them. 
That’s why I began doing this: to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Metrics: June 28 - July 4



Training Days: Tue / Thu 

Four Week training average: 2.25

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 10

Strength & Conditioning
HICT (100 hipscapes) - Tue
HICT (100 hipscapes) - Thu

Weight
157.8 lbs - Tue
155.8 lbs - Thu

Live Training
none

Friday, June 26, 2015

Metrics: June 21 - 27

Training Days: Tue / Thu 

Four Week training average: 2.25

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 9

Strength & Conditioning
HRI (quick lifts) - Tue
HICT (100 hipscapes)
HICT (100 hipscapes) - Thu
Anaerobic Threshold (box steps) - Fri

Weight
160.4 lbs - Tue
158.0 lbs - Thu

Live Training
none

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu: Programming

When it comes to general conditioning for combat athletes, 8 Weeks Out is my go-to source for insights and solutions. Personally, I consider Jamieson's work to be top shelf and I've been a fan of his since doing my first HRV protocol five years ago.

But what I'm especially interested in is the kind of real combat sport/martial art-specific conditioning that is designed to train the body to perform better at Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And that requires a focus on the very specific fundamental/critical movements of Brazilian jiu-jitsu: hipscapes, tech lifts, sitouts, reverse pivots, box drills, "back2bellies" (hipscape to turtle), and so on.

In other words, if you are doing "conditioning for jiu-jitsu" and your conditioning routine involves more running than reverse pivots and level changes, more time swinging kettlebells than combining explosive bridges with hip-evacuating elbow escapes, then, as the kids say, you're doing it wrong.

At least to the extent that you are doing conditioning for jiu-jitsu.

Conditioning for jiu-jitsu means programming your body to respond immediately and accurately in a specific fashion when given the command to perform a jiu-jitsu act. And that command shouldn't necessarily be especially conscious, either. Starting this month, I've starting spending a few minutes after every class doing 100 hipscapes and I'm surprised at how readily my body responds when I'm training and I only have to ask for one or two. There's no way you are not doing better, more efficient, hipscapes if you are practicing them in excess of 1,000 times a month.

Think about doing that for your technical lifts, your single-legs, your sit-outs, your triangle chokes, your take-the-back move from guard ...

One of the beautiful things about jiu-jitsu is the way that everything - or, at least, much of what you need in order to be successful - is reducible to basic movements. Find those basic movements and you have the building blocks of a specific conditioning program for jiu-jitsu, rather than something borrowed from wrestling or sambo or judo or mixed martial arts.


Above: Runners running to get better at running.

Specific conditioning is one of the reasons why your middle-aged professor - who hobbles across the mat before class like someone in his 80s - can still handle the 20-something kid with energy to spare. The professor's body has been conditioned for jiu-jitsu by doing thousands of hipscapes, technical lifts, sitting-up-in-guard ... You've heard of "Old Man Strength" in weightlifting? I'd argue that skill-specific programming in a highly technical art like jiu-jitsu runs just as deep and just as long.

What I want to emphasize is that basic aspects of conditioning - growing aerobic capacity and power, increasing muscular endurance, and maintaining a general level of above-average strength - will make you a better athlete, and should be pursued by jiu-jitsu artists. No question about that. Again, 8 Weeks Out will get you done.

But specific conditioning can make a massive difference when it comes to truly being able to leverage your technical, jiu-jitsu skills into outperformance on the mat. And the smaller, older, and/or more fatigued you are, the more this technical leverage induced by deeply-conditioning your body for jiu-jitsu really matters.

Try This
Pick a very general jiu-jitsu movement (i.e., hipscapes, technical lifts) and do 50-100 at the end of every training session as a cool-down for a few months. I'm doing 5 sets of 20 hipscapes right now (hipscape down the mat 20 times then walk back) and it only takes me about three minutes at a moderate pace. Training at least 10 times a month, that's 1,000 reps every 30 days.

When doing technical lifts, I usually set them up with breakfalls and do 5 sets of 10. Another option I like to do are "quick lifts" where I don't come all the way up to standing. Instead I come up with just enough balance to clap my hands (like you might for an explosive pushup*) before going back to the starting position.

Reps of the full technical lift are an especially nice "cool down" after training. I like the "quick lift" as part of pre-training warmup. 5 sets of 5 reps each side.

*By the way, explosive pushups are awesome! I highly recommend doing them instead of regular pushusp during the GB warmup.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Metrics: June 14 - 20



Training Days: Tue / Thu 

Four Week training average: 2.25

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 8

Strength & Conditioning
LSD - Sun
HRI (quick lifts) - Tue
HICT (100 hipscapes)
HICT (100 hipscapes) - Thu
Anaerobic Threshold (box steps) - Fri

Weight
163.2 lbs - Tue
160.3 lbs - Thu

Live Training
none

Friday, June 19, 2015

Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu



Joel Jamieson's book, 8 Weeks Out, does an awesome job of explaining what conditioning is and how to improve your conditioning to perform better as a mixed martial artist.

But it can still be a bit of a challenge for non-MMA grapplers in general and jiu-jitsu players in specific to put many of Jamieson's insights to their most efficient uses for a few reasons.

1. The Ground
Conditioning on the ground is significantly different from conditioning while standing. Changing levels from standing to squat to sprawl to knees is also more frequent for grapplers than MMA fighters.

2. The Skills
Every conditioning expert I've talked to about grappling - including Joel - has emphasized the way that superior technique can mitigate inferior conditioning. Any 20-something brown belt who has struggled against his 40-something black belt professor can attest to this.

3. The Solitude
There are a wide variety of skill-general (running) and skill-specific (bagwork) conditioning exercises that MMA athletes can do on their own without a partner. There are far fewer exercises for grapplers.

So what does this mean in terms of conditioning for jiu-jitsu?

1. The Ground: Slow Your Roll
Conditioning on the ground is more taxing than conditioning standing (compare half an hour of hipscapes or reverse pivots or sitouts with half an hour of shadow boxing). Learning how to move in and out of what Jamieson calls your "anaerobic power reserve" is critical.

2. The Skills: The Technique is Everything
Your goal is to be able to deliver "your" techniques perfectly 100 times in a row if necessary. By that I mean "your" guard pass, "your" sweep, "your" escape from side mount, etc. This is a matter of both neurology ("muscle memory") and muscle endurance.

3. The Solitude: Resistance is Futile
Jiu-jitsu is ultimately about moving your body, not moving someone else's. Mastering your own movement is more than enough, and many of the most basic solo movements, from hipscapes to bridges to technical lifts, are the most important.

I'll talk more about these ideas over the summer, as well as provide some grappling/jiu-jitsu workouts that can be used to complete 8 Weeks Out style conditioning protocols.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gracie Breakdown: The Guillotines of UFC 188


More jiu-jitsu analysis awesomeness from Los Bros Gracie

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#VaiCavalo


Earning the first degree on my jui-jitsu black belt this afternoon, I thought to myself: how awesome would it be to commemorate a great day of training and this terrific honor from Gracie Barra Seattle with a championship-unifying victory from one of jiu-jitsu's greatest mixed martial artists in his most difficult challenge to date?

As it turns out, quite awesome, indeed.


Metrics: June 7 - 13



Training Days: Tue / Thu / Sat

Four Week training average: 2.25

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 7

Strength & Conditioning
Tabata - Tue
Tempo Intervals (lifts)
100 Hipscapes
Tempo Intervals (lifts) - Thu
100 Hipscapes
Tempo Intervals (sit-outs) - Sat
100 Hipscapes

Weight
161.6 lbs - Tue
156.6 lbs - Sat

Live Training
20 min specific training - Sat

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"And New Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World ..."

I've had a jiu-jitsu crush on Fabricio Werdum ever since seeing a video of his uber-classy submission of Matt Lindland at ADCC 2003.


So call me biased about Vai Cavalo's upcoming UFC heavyweight title unification bout with Cain Velasquez, But I do think the world would be a better place if the Man Who Submitted Fedor was also known as the Man Who Finished Cain.

Disagree? Read this profile of Werdum and then explain to me how having a guy with this much talent, personality, and charisma as the official "Baddest Man on the Planet" wouldn't be the best thing to happen to mixed martial arts since rings became cages. 
Werdum, who tried to get a job at a petrochemical complex in Sapucaia do Sul but failing the test, celebrates sucking at other jobs and getting beat up by his ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. 
"If I never had accepted my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend’s challenge, I would never start training jiu-jitsu," he said. "And thank God I failed that test, or I wouldn’t be where I am today. 
"And you see how things are. Ten years later, I submitted the best in the world, and now I’m fighting for the UFC heavyweight title."
I love me some Daniel Craig (having once been compared to him by a friend whose generosity on this point will never be forgotten). But if Fabricio wins the title this Saturday, they ought to cast him as the next Bond.


Prediction: Werdum defeats Velasquez (Triangle/Armbar) - Round Four




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What is Fatigue and How to Stop It from Stopping You


Some great insights from one of my favorite conditioning specialists, Joel Jamieson of 8 Weeks Out. Jamieson is the conditioning coach for undisputed UFC flyweight champion and top 10 pound-for-pound mixed martial artist, Demetrious Johnson.
In other words, pacing is about choosing when to tap into the anaerobic power reserve and how long to stay there for. 
The best fighters know the pace they can maintain if they want to last all fight.  They know when to explode and go for the finish and when to save their energy. 
Less experienced and less savvy fighters, on the other hand, use their energy inefficiently and constantly draw from their anaerobic power reserve when it’s unnecessary, often leaving them gassed out as a result.
Read the rest.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Ryan Hall Guard Flexibility Techniques



as helpfully compiled by Journey BJJ

Saturday, June 06, 2015

IBJJF: What Is It Good For?

Everyone who is not a "professional" jiu-jitsu athlete according to Bloody Elbow Grappling Scribe T.P. Grant.
The grappling world has grown and the current structure of jiu jitsu competition is going to change. The professional aspect of the sport is growing. If it can stabilize, the IBJJF could remain the place for newer grapplers to make their name. But, once established the best athletes will likely be competing in cash prize tournaments and professional events rather than returning to amateur ranks. 

Metrics: May 31 - June 6


Training Days: Tue / Thu

Four Week training average: 2.00

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 6

Strength & Conditioning
Matwork: Thu
Tabata: Fri

Weight
164.2 lbs - Tue
< 162.0 lbs - Thu

Live Training
8 min / 1 session - Thu

Monday, June 01, 2015

So You Wanna Be an Ultimate Fighter?


Happy Birthday to Me! Very much looking forward to reading this.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Heavy is Slow: Nick Curson and the Case Against Resistance

Interesting and controversial ideas from Nick Curson, S&C coach for UFC Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos and student of the Marinovich Training Systems.
 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Metrics: May 24 - 30



Training Days: Tue / Thu

Four Week training average: 2.00

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 5

Strength &Conditioning
Matwork: Fri

Weight
166.6 lbs - Tue
162.2 lbs - Thu

Live Training
16 min / 2 sessions - Tue
14 min / 2 sessions - Thu

Friday, May 29, 2015

Meet Matt Hume

If I were a better man, I'd get a grant to write a book on the foundational American jiu-jitsu black belts. Not just the Dirty Dozen (though absolutely the Dirty Dozen), but maybe another dozen guys who helped pave the way for the gentle art in North America.

As it is, I'll just sit back and enjoy this video of Matt Hume talking Demetrious Johnson Awesomeness.


Hello Japan Reviews the Top BJJ Matches of 2015, Part 1


Always awesome to find a new favorite thing! Here's a look at the top Brazilian jiu-jitsu matches of the year from Hello Japan.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bloody Elbow's 2015 Mundial Preview


Check out Bloody Elbow's preview of the 2015 IBJJF World Jiu Jitsu Championships or "Mundial" featuring Bloody Elbow grappling editor, Roy Billington and no-gi world champion and ADCC veteran, Tom DeBlass.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Eddie Bravo Invitational: EBI3

The future of "sport" jiu-jitsu (if we're lucky!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

King Conor: Freeing the Body


I've been loving The Notorious series spotlighting the rise of Irish featherweight mixed martial artist, Conor McGregor. I can't wait for his upcoming match against champion, Jose Aldo from Brazil. 

I especially appreciated his remarks on the body and movement in episode five. As much as cynicism bores me, I'll admit that I was surprised at how Rickson-esque and Ginastica Natural-like some of his movements and comments were - so much so that I couldn't help but share my rough transcription of them here. 
"You're almost going to trick the mind to do stuff that it's not used to. 
What's happening there is that the brain is working more than the body - your brain is outworking the body, there's no stopping you. 
People work the body over than the brain. And that's where the skill level stagnates or it declines. 
In the fight there is no pattern. It's just a blank canvas. You go out and just let the instinct take over. Let it just click. 
Prizefighting is short. Get in, get rich, get out. But martial arts is a way of life. It's for life. 
It's about movement. It's not about resistance. You should be going in there fluid. I feel like I'm understanding this game a lot more. It's not about coming in and getting the rounds in like it was.  
It's a 24/7 process to free the body. That's what I'm ultimately trying to do. I'm trying to become free. I'm trying to open up my body in all ways. 
I have a routine. I wake up. I drink water. I stretch. I shake it out. 
That's me beginning to free my body again after whatever amount of time I've been asleep. 
People just usually jump up get out of bed straightway, go and brush their teeth, eat their fill, rush to whatever they have to go, do what they have to do and their body is just locking up, getting tighter and tighter and tighter until it just locks or cracks. 
I don't see it as showing up and doing jiu-jitsu, showing up and doing boxing, showing up and doing Tae Kwon Do. I just see it as moving. Waking up. Freeing the body. Becoming more loose. And moving."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Metrics: May 17-23



Training Days: Tue / Thu

Four Week training average: 2.00

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 4

Strength &Conditioning
Tabata - Tue
Tabata - Thu
Tabata - Sat

Weight
163.6 lbs - Tue
162.4 lbs - Thu

Live Training
20 min / Specific Training

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Metrics: May 10-16



Training Days: Thu  / Sat

Four Week training average: 1.75

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 3

Strength
Pullups / Pulldowns / DB rows - Sun
Berardi 3 sets / 15 lbs - Tue

Conditioning
LSD - 2 mi - Sun

Weight
156.2 - Thu

Live Training
20 min / 2 sessions

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Metrics: May 3 - 9




Training Days: Tue / Thu 

Four Week training average: 2.0

Techniques of the Week
GB Curriculum Week 2

Strength
shoulder shocker - Thu

Conditioning
LSD - 2 mi - Thu

Weight
165.2 lbs. (Tue pm)
162.2 lbs. (Thu pm)

Live Training
15 min / 2 sessions