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.