Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Secret to Getting Better at BJJ/Grappling

What strength and conditioning exercises should I do to get better at BJJ?
What kind of kettlebell workout should I do to get better at BJJ/grappling?

These types of questions seem to be coming up a lot lately. So, here we go. what I'm about to share with you is one of the only secrets of BJJ ;)

Now, what would you pay for this kind of information. I should be charging for this kind of information and many people have...but today I'm going to give you a special deal...all you have to do is order this special deal. Heh heh heh...okay...look, I'm giving it away for FREE!!! This is IT...this is THE SECRET! I really should be charging for this type of information. Are you ready for it? Okay, okay, enough it is...all for the one low price of....FREE!!!!!!

*Please feel free to send donations and help sponsor my training for the ADCC World Championships. E-mail me @ Thank you ;)

The only way to get better at BJJ/grappling is by doing BJJ/grappling!!!!!
BJJ is about teaching your body how to move in certain ways and respond to different situations. The only way to teach your body how to do this automatically is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. This is commonly referred to as "mat time". You learn techniques and then you drill them. Then you try to do them against resisting opponents. After many hours of practice, many failures and many successes...what were once "techniques" learned in class start to become "your" automatic responses by your body. You are training muscle memory. You learn that grappling is about body movements. You learn to incorporate your own personal physical attributes (whether it be speed, explosiveness, agility, flexibility, etc. or lack of these...) into the techniques to give you your own personal fighting style which is part of the beauty of jiu-jitsu. It can be tailored for each individual's strengths and weaknesses.
Just getting stronger won't help you get any better at BJJ/grappling. It won't help you learn how to move your hips, where to put your knee, where to place your hand, one inch this way or half an inch that way, adjust the pressure of your hip, turn your head slightly to the left, base more on your right side, put pressure with your right shoulder, shimmee your shoulders forward, wiggle wiggle, base here, base this way a bit more, etc. and then there's the whole other issue of timing. Strength may help you survive in the short term. You might be able to muscle out of bad positions or force submissions. But how do you do a proper escape? How do you do a proper submission? In the long run, if you have not learned proper techniques you will only have the strength you started with. If you're a big guy and regularly dominate everyone at your academy, what happens when you have to face someone your own size? And what if he HAS learned the techniques? If you learn technique and then use strength on top of that, then you will have a combination that is difficult to beat. Strength is easy and can always be added after you develop a good foundation of techniques. Technique comes first and takes time, patience, frustration and lots and lots of practice.
Going back to the origins of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu...Helio Gracie himself had a frail body.
Don't misunderstand because yes, strength and conditioning do play a role in BJJ/Grappling, but one has to have the proper technical foundation to build upon.
Making you stronger will not make you better at BJJ/Grappling.
Making you better at BJJ/Grappling will make you better at BJJ/Grappling.
After you have developed a strong foundation and as you get better at BJJ/Grappling, strength and conditioning will help your BJJ/Grappling be even better, especially if you compete. If all it took was strength, then powerlifters would all be BJJ/Grappling World Champions!


Kei said...

I wish but...I have self-diagnosed ADD... Awwwwww........

Jimmy said...

Oh said too much!

MD said...

I find it frustrating sometimes when guys use their strength against me over technique because they are afraid of being submitted by a girl.
But I hope in the long term they will realise the foolishness of their ways as by powering out of something they learn nothing to help their game

2Old said...

A pertinent (and synchronistic) excerpt from a comment I left on Aesopian's blog ( ) this morning:

This is my sixth month of practice. The most important lesson I’ve learned at this point is that no matter how much I dance around the issue, or look for substitute ways to advance (private lessons, DVDs, conditioning) there is simply, at the end of the day, no substitute for rolling. Unfortunately rolling is daunting at times (although I don’t dread rolling with some particularly tough class mates the way I used to), and I literally get/feel “beat up” after each such session. So I’m glad to hear that 3 classes, and not 5 classes, a week is the “magic number!”

Anonymous said...

So where is the donate button?

Bobby A. Smith said...

Thanks for reminding me.

feliciaoh said...

If you are interested in helping to sponsor me, send me an e-mail to Thanks!