Those truly afflicted with the BJJ addiction are thinking of all things BJJ all of the time. The instructor has to kick these diehards out of the academy when he wants to turn out the lights and go home!
The true addict will go home and watch BJJ videos after several hours of rolling! They will look for supplementary activities outside of class to try to improve their jiu-jitsu in any way possible.
What about guys who really wish they could go to every class, but their real life responsibilities preclude them from going more than two or three times a week?
Good news! There are some things you can do outside of class to help your jiu-jitsu. Here they are.
A critical factor in your improvement is your ability to physically recover in between training sessions. You are asking an awful lot out of your muscles, joints, and nervous system if you are rolling every day. You need adequate recovery before you can get back on the mat.
This is why we see top athletes using massage, cryo therapy, and those chilling ice baths to super charge their recovery. Most athletes don’t need to be pushed harder in their training; they need to know when to rest and prepare for the next training.
If you are neglecting your recovery — something as basic as getting enough quality sleep at night — you will slow your progress.
2) Learn BJJ with your brain, not your body.
The spirit may be willing, but your body may say “no mas!” When you can’t hit the academy for class or when your body needs a break, you can continue to learn by watching the incredible variety of videos out there.
In addition to obvious instructionals, I love watching matches and trying to figure out what the top competitors are doing.
For example, if I am trying to improve my knee slice pass, I’ll watch matches of someone like Rodolfo Vieira, who is known for his top game. Which grips is he looking for? What are his opponent’s counters? How often does he change sides? You can learn a lot by stepping back and observing from a distance.
3) Supplementary conditioning
I have experimented with yoga, weight training, and running outside of the academy in an effort to improve my jiu-jitsu, and I’ve experienced benefits from all three.
Yoga will help correct imbalances between the left and right sides of your body. You will learn to breath in order to relax muscular tension and relax in ground positions.
Weight training will certainly make your stronger for times when you need some bursts. The primary benefit to those athletes over 35 is injury prevention by strengthening those muscles surrounding the joints.
Cardio might be king when it comes to conditioning for jiu-jitsu. My friend Stephan Keating of Grapplearts says that his rolling has never felt better than when he was running twice a week. Running is also a different type of stress on your body than rolling and can allow you to improve your conditioning while allowing sore shoulders and backs to rest.
What do you do outside of the academy to improve your jiu-jitsu?