Steel Mace Training for BJJ: Using Hindu Warrior Training for the Mats

A few months ago I ordered a steel mace. Now, if you have never seen a steel mace it is exactly what it sounds like – a long steel handle with a ball on the end of it. In fact, it wouldn’t look out of place on a medieval battlefield.

But I didn’t get it to use as a weapon, although you certainly could in a pinch like the zombie apocalypse.

No, this was actually a new workout toy for me to try.

Steel Maces

And in the last few months this new toy has quickly become my favorite workout tool. In fact, I’m pretty amazed that we haven’t heard more about it before.

While it looks like something you could use to brain zombies with, the mace is actually based on the Gada (basically a stick with a rock on the end). It has been used by Hindu warriors and Indian Kushti Wrestlers for over 2000 years to build upper body and grip strength.

The mace definitely represents something of a lost art in the world of strength and fitness. I first came across the mace through the company ONNIT. They make a version of the mace that I had seen for a while but kind of wrote off as a silly gimmick. I mean, how hard could a 10 pound stick really be to handle?

But then I had a few things happen that piqued my interest.

First, I had a wakeup call from my neck. Or, more specifically, a pinched nerve in my neck. Despite doing a lot of the “right stuff” it seemed that I still had a gap in my upper back strength and mobility and needed something that really targeted these postural muscles.

The second thing was when I read a book called Natural Born Heroes. In it they quote Steve Maxwell and he mentioned how the ancients used tools like the mace and Indian Clubs to train the upper body’s natural elasticity and “spring”.

Since posture is a big part of this “spring” it stood to reason that these exercises also worked on the posture and upper back mobility I needed. I figured that when I could easily handle a mace my upper back had to be stronger and more mobile.

I knew that there was something to all of this and so I ordered a 10 pound and 20 pound mace. I figured that I would let my wife and little girl use the 10 pounder and I would use the 20 pound one.

After they showed up I realized I quickly realized that 1) holding a mace felt pretty bad ass and 2) I severely misjudged how heavy these things would feel. The 10 pound mace felt was tough to pick up and handle and the 20 pound mace was almost impossible to do anything with.

So after fashioning one for my little girl out of some PVC pipe and a stick and starting with the 10 pound mace myself I started to play around with it to see how it felt and what it could do.

Shilo with Mace

Initially I started out with the basics…

The Spear Stab (much harder than it looks)

The Grave Digger (amazing core rotation work)

The Barbarian Squat (great at opening up the chest and working on squat form)

The 360 (upper body strength, stamina and mobility training at its finest)

I’d do a simple routine like this a couple times a week:

1: Spear Stabs – 2 X 5 with 3-5 seconds hold

2: Grave Diggers – 2 X 10 each side

3: Mace Breathing Squats – 2 X 10 switching top hand for the second set

4: 360s – 2 X 10 each direction and each hand on top (40 total each set)

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that the mace rewards balance and positional alignment more than it does raw strength. When I had good posture, position and balance the mace felt much lighter but as soon as I lost one of those things it got much heavier. While I could try to muscle my way through it I quickly learned that it was easier to focus on keeping things balanced and lined up.

I also learned that the mace requires a lot of upper back strength. Creating the leverage you needed to handle the offset weight required a lot of upper back strength than any other training tool I’ve ever used.

And finally, I learned that the mace requires a lot of upper back mobility since the Mace Breathing Squats and 360 had you bringing the mace behind your head. You had no choice but to open up the chest and keep from hunching over or else the mace would smash into something. Not enough to hurt but enough to incentivize you to not do it again!

Another great thing about the mace is how versatile it is. You can change your grip to make exercises harder or easier, allowing you to get a lot of use out of a single piece of equipment. There are also a lot of other exercises you can do with the mace than just the 4 that I mentioned here. Add in some bodyweight exercises or a single kettlebell and you start to open up a whole world of workout possibilities without needing to invest in much equipment at all.

If I’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to learn more about mace training then here are a couple of resources for you. The first is the ONNIT website where you can buy a mace and/ or learn some more exercises and routines using it.

You can also check out this guy’s website where he goes over the 360, which is the hardest exercise to learn but one of the most beneficial for you to do. He also shows you how to make a mace out of a clay pot and bamboo stick in case you prefer to build your own.

You can also check out this infographic, which outlines some of the other basic mace training exercises.

Mace Infographic

And just in case buying a mace or building one isn’t something you are willing to do then check to see if you have a 10 pound sledge hammer…or at least check one out next time you are at the store. Look for one with a round, straight handle but at the end of the day a sledge hammer is just a modern day mace made for pounding rocks instead of heads.

Training for a sport like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires a dynamic blend of upper body strength and mobility and I haven’t found a tool that targets this better than the mace. After using it for a few months I can feel the difference in my posture and my neck hasn’t felt this good in a while. I’m feeling and performing better and I feel a lot of it is the result of adding in some mace training to my routine.

So I hope you’ll take me up on the challenge and get yourself mace and try these exercises out for yourself. While it may take a little practice and your neighbors may look at you like you’re nuts (mine are used to crazy stuff like this by now) I think that you’ll find the mace to be a valuable addition to your toolbox.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems


Closed Guard Attack Flow Drill with Tom McMahon

It didn’t take me long to realize that having a strong Closed Guard is one of the first things you want to develop in BJJ. Like one of my BJJ mentors told me “if you have your legs around them they can’t pass your guard”.

For a guy who didn’t have any wrestling experience coming into it, Closed Guard become the great equalizer for me. If I could get my legs around you I could at least slow things down enough to think.

Eventually my Closed Guard game started to move from a purely defensive position to a place I could start to set up attacks and sweeps. And while I was doing good with the basic stuff like Triangles and the Flower Sweep I also found that I needed a few more tricks in my bag to deal with the better guys who knew how to deal with those basic attacks.

Yesterday my buddy Lance Trippet at posted a new video he shot with Tom McMahon from showing a drill to help you expand your Closed Guard attacks. Tom is a BJJ World Champion and agreed to share his favorite drill for attacking from Closed Guard with Lance and all of us.

tom mcM

Click here to see Tom and Lance demonstrate this Closed Guard Attack Flow Drill

As you’ll see, it is a pretty slick set up that gets you into a very strong position for the finish. Be sure to check it out and drill it next time you are working on your Closed Guard attacks. Like Lance says, drilling is the key to so just do it!

I hope you enjoy this video and get a chance to use it on the mats this week. I’ll be in touch with more BJJ drills and exercises to help you roll with more power, endurance and confidence.

Until then…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

p.s. Do you have a question or topic about improving your BJJ specific movement and fitness that you’d like to see me address? If so I’d love to hear from you. Knowing what guys want to hear about will help me create the best content for so let me know what I can do to help.


An easy way to add crawling into your BJJ program.

Being able to move well on the ground is the hallmark of a great BJJ player. You know it when you see it – the fluid transitions from one position to the next and the ability to stay balanced no matter what happens.

However, as most of us quickly find out, being able to move like that doesn’t come naturally or easily for a lot of us. And while time on the mats certainly helps, a lot of people still struggle with some of the basic movement and positions for years into their BJJ careers.

This is where adding some crawling into your BJJ program can help a lot.

Crawling is also some of the best core training you can do and works your body in ways that nothing else can. In fact, I’d say that if you aren’t doing some sort of crawling then you have a huge hole in your program that is costing you when you wrestle.

Luckily, it is easy to do since it doesn’t require any equipment or much space. In fact, you don’t really need any space at all.

In these two videos I show you how to do a Marching Bear Crawl and Marching Crab Walk. Both are really challenging and work on your core strength and balance. Continue reading An easy way to add crawling into your BJJ program.


What Goldilocks can teach us about applying pressure in BJJ.

Now that I have a few years of training under my belt I find myself in the position of answering a lot of questions from new white belts. What’s funny is that a lot of the questions I hear are the same ones I had when I started, including how tight you want to be for different techniques.

The problem is that we all know that there is a sweet spot. You don’t want to be a limp pressure 2noodle but you also don’t want to be as tight as a vice grip all the time either.

Usually it takes a lot of time and practice to get a real feel for it but to help explain this concept to people I came up with something I call Goldilocks Pressure.

Now, you remember Goldilocks, right? She went on a rampage through some poor bears’ house and ended up causing a mess for them.

But in the process she had to find what was just right for her.

Some stuff was too much, some stuff wasn’t enough and some stuff was just right.

And the same thing applies to the pressure you use on the mats. Continue reading What Goldilocks can teach us about applying pressure in BJJ.


Inside the Steel Mace Certification at the ONNIT Academy

A few months ago I started training with the Steel Mace, a tool that has a long history and has a lot to offer the modern grappler.

And while I felt that I had been able to pick up some useful stuff from videos I found online and my own experiments, I knew that there was still a lot to learn about this unique training tool.IMG_20160306_175212097_HDR

Always being open to learn new stuff, I decided to sign up for the Steel Mace Specialist Course developed by the ONNIT Academy. I also wanted to check out their facility in Austin and meet the people behind ONNIT and the Steel Mace, so I was really looking forward to this trip.IMG_20160306_085216876

After catching a flight to Austin and a cab ride to my hotel I took a short walk to the ONNIT Academy to attend a BJJ class. They recently put in a 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu studio and I wanted to burn off some energy and see what I could learn from their No Gi specific style.

It was a great class, everyone was friendly and I certainly picked up some good details about the swimming armbar from the back and the Spider Web position from the instructor Curtis. I also picked up a good armbar break and a nasty triangle option as well…but that’s getting off subject.

After rolling a few rounds and telling everyone goodnight I got some dinner and prepared for my first day of Steel Mace Training.

On Saturday morning I came into their exercise room with about 10 other people there for the course. It was a wide range of backgrounds and experience levels but everyone was there for one reason – to learn more about how to use the Steel Mace to help them get better results for themselves and their clients.IMG_20160305_090706117

We started out by learning the basic hand position and bar positions. They stressed that these are the “landmarks” that you need to have dialed into be able to flow through the more complicated stuff we would be doing later.

I really appreciated this approach to drilling the basics into our heads. Just like learning a skill on the bike or on the mat in BJJ, hitting your positions is important and that starts with knowing your positions.

After learning the hand position we started to work on the basic switches. Switches are how your flow the mace from one hand position to another and again serve as the foundational basics for the fancies stuff we would be learning.

From there we started to dive into the actual movements, starting with the basic human movements of Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge and Lunge. This was also were we started to learn more about how the unique properties of the Steel Mace allowed us to create some really interesting forces on the body.

First, just holding the Steel Mace creates Anti-Rotation in the body. Since the mace is offset, keeping you hands even with the body creates these forces without you doing anything.

Next is Counter Rotation. By creating rotation with the mace around a stable body you have to counter that rotation to maintain a stable body.

And finally is Purposeful Rotation. With this you create rotation through the body, being sure to focus on creating that rotation from the right areas.

We spent the rest of the day going through different ways to apply this progression scheme to different exercises and movements. From rows to lunges, I learned a whole new universe of ways to challenge the body through this new way of looking at training.

By the end of the first day I my head was swimming and I was ready for dinner and a beer. After spending way too much money at the only restaurant in walking distance I crashed out, wondering what the next day would bring.

The next day started cold…and just because the air was a bit nippy on the walk. I had signed up to do 2 cryo-therapy sessions while I was there and the day before the machine got set on the cleaning cycle or something, meaning that if I wanted my 2 sessions I’d have to them both on Sunday.IMG_20160306_081756080

Showing up and hour early to get the first one in I was pretty nervous and didn’t know what to expect. The basic idea is to pump nitrogen gas into a small tank you are standing in and drop the temperature to -160 degrees.

This extreme cold freaks your body out and it sends all of the blood rushing from the limbs to the core to protect the vital organs. After 1.5-3 minutes you get out and the body relaxes, letting all the blood rush back. This is supposed to be very theraputic and help with muscle soreness and recovery…or at least that’s what I heard on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Not being a huge fan of the cold I was afraid I’d wuss out in front of everyone but luckily I was able to tough it out for the 3 minutes. My finger tips were pretty pissed off at me for a few minutes after that but I certainly felt invigorated. I did my second session at the end of the day and it wasn’t as bad since I was already warmed up and has the blood flowing.

That day we started to work on some of the more complicated exercises like the Lateral Lunge and the Mace Swing/ 360. I was able to pick up some really good coaching cues and drills for helping people to learn the Mace Swing/ 360, which I know will help a lot as I move forward with teaching this exercise to clients.

The last part of the day was spent working on Mace Flows, which are where things really get fun and interesting. The design of the mace allows for some really effective switches and flows betweenIMG_20160306_160044961en exercises that let you work on the “long strength” that we need on the mats. Plus, they challenge your mind since you can’t lose focus with a 15 pound Steel Mace moving around your body.

We ended the day with a Graduation Workout, which was an advanced flow we learned. The challenge was that we were going to do it for 20 minutes straight and try not to put the mace down if you could help it.

And while it was challenging, I was able to make it the whole 20 minutes without putting the mace down once. Unlike some graduation workouts where you fee like you might blow something out trying to survive it, though, this one was more “sane”. I think that since we had spent so much time getting the basics dialed in and the fact that the mace rewards you with moments of balance and rest if you hold it right made it possible.

At the end of the day we had a group of happy graduates, all of us tired but ready to unleash our new knowledge on the unsuspecting world. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again – the Steel Mace is the new Kettlebell and in 5 years we’ll be seeing them everywhere.IMG_20160306_171136529_HDR

I’m glad I was able to get in on the ground floor of the Steel Mace training revolution and that I can bring it to you. And thanks to everyone at ONNIT, especially Esik, Shane and Christian for their help during the course. I really like what they are doing with their certifications, equipment and supplements and it lines right up with what I’m trying to do with BJJ Strength Training Systems.

I’ll be signing up to take their Durability Certification in a couple months so I’ll have a write up of that one as well. In the meantime keep an eye out for more Steel Mace training articles, videos and programs. And be sure to post your videos and tag #bjjstrengthtraining and #revelinrotation when you do, I’d love to see you guys in action.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems


Improve your bridging and shrimping with the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing

Last week I posted a video going over a combo drill called the Butt Blaster 4000. After you get past the funny name you find a deceivingly tough workout that really targets the specific types of cardio you need on the mat.

One of the exercises in the routine is called the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing and yes, it is another Dan John special. He loves funny names for things he comes up with and I’m not going to argue with him about it.

After learning the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing it instantly became one of my favorite lower body exercises. It is perhaps the best way I have found to teach someone how to keep a strong core and really drive with their hips when doing a Hip Hinge movement pattern.

This is important because the Hip Hinge is the movement pattern behind things like bridging on the mat and doing deadlifts and kettlebell swings in the gym. Most people I have worked with had some serious issues with their hip hinge which put a lot of stress on the lower back and made it hard to do some moves on the mat.

In this video I show go into the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing and show you how to use it to help improve your hip hinge, which will pay off big time in a lot of other areas.

If you know that you need help with your hip hinge then I suggest replacing all swings and deadlifts with them for a few weeks. Doing 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps each time you train will really get your hip hinge nice and grooved.

If you have a good hip hinge (or at least think you do) then try doing 1-2 sets of 10 reps as part of your warm up to get the hips hinging properly before attacking your deadlifts and/ swings. I’ve found that this has helped a lot with my workouts and my first reps feel much more “connected” after doing some Bulgarian Goat Bag Swings.

And like anything else, your focus and attention to detail are what will ultimately determine your results. You wouldn’t bang out sloppy, unfocused reps when drilling on the mat so you can’t do that in the gym either.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson


Improve your BJJ cardio with the Butt Blaster 4000

Cardio training for BJJ is a bit tricky for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t want to overdo it and end up overtraining or burning yourself out. In fact, I wrote an article looking at the real role of cardio training for BJJ that you can check out by clicking here.

The second thing that makes it tricky is that the type of cardio you need for BJJ and grappling is different than what you need for running or biking. You body is under much more tension when you are grappling and your cardio system has to work harder to overcome that tension, making it necessary to use methods that also have you under tension.

This is why exercises like the Kettlebell Swing or training methods like Combo Drills are so effective for BJJ – they have you working hard under tension, which is much more specific to the real cardio demands of BJJ.

The Butt Blaster 4000 is another combo drill that I recently learned about at a Dan John seminar that I attended. Dan likes to give things funny names and usually the funnier the name the more effective that thing is.

So with a ridiculous name like the Butt Blaster 4000 you know it that this has to be one mean combo drill. And trust me, it doesn’t disappoint.

Combining the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing (another Dan John exercise) with the Goblet Squat it promises to test your ability to stay focused and move efficiently under tension and fatigue…something that is essential to improving your cardio on the mats.

Check out this video to see me demonstrate the Butt Blaster 4000 and explain more about how it will help you BJJ specific cardio.

Give the Butt Blaster 4000 a shot at the end of your next workout as a good finisher or you can even use it as a quick workout on its own if you are pressed for time. Either way you use it I’m sure you’ll know right away that it is going to help you roll with more strength and endurance on the mats.

That’s it for now, until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson


Improve your Hip Tosses with the Stick Windmill

Not coming from a wrestling or judo background I really struggled with learning the the stand up part of BJJ at first. I’m still not great at it but I’m at least getting to where I don’t feel like a fish out of water, which is at least moving in the right direction.

One of the techniques I really struggled with was the hip toss. There are a lot of different ways to set one up but no matter which variation we were drilling I struggled to get my hips in the right position. I always felt like something wasn’t balanced right or that my hips were twisted funny.

One day I realized that you have to shift your hips over in a very specific way to get into the right position but that specific position required a lot of lateral hip mobility. I recognized the basic movement pattern from the Kettlebell Windmill and once I started using it my hip tosses got much better.

However, this is a position that most people simply don’t have the hip mobility to get into in the first place. Too much sitting and not enough lateral hip movement over the years literally locks their hips in place. This  means that they will struggle with mechanics of the hip toss until they regain that mobility.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.31.34 PMThe Stick Windmill is probably the best exercise to help you do this. If you struggle with getting your hips over and across with hip tosses or just with lateral hip movement in general then be sure to check out this video where I show you how this stretch works.

Do 3-5 reps on each side holding for a few breaths each time and you’ll find your hips will feel much looser both during hip tosses and while rolling around on the mats. This is just another example of how smart strength and mobility training can help your BJJ skills and technique.

That’s it for now, if you have any questions about this exercise or anything related to BJJ training post a comment below. And if you liked this exercise then please click one of the Like or Share buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson
BJJ Strength Training Systems


What a pillow can tell you about your mobility and other lessons from Dan John’s seminar.

Last Saturday I got the chance to attend a seminar by Dan John. Dan is one of the brightest strength coaches in the world and someone I have followed for a long time. When I found out he was just 4 hours away I jumped on the chance to see him present his training philosophy in person.

Dan is one of the guys who have stood the test of time in my book and one of the few guys I still follow in the fitness industry. His blog and his books Never Let Go, Intervention, Mass Made Simple and Easy Strength are gold mines of information and have had a big influence on my programs.

In fact, Dan was the inspiration for the video I shot on the benefits of loaded carries for BJJ, something I had been neglecting for way too long and make a huge impact on posture and performance.

So after driving the 4 hours and suffering through one of the noisiest nights ever in a hotel thanks to some out of control kids and a desk clerk who decided to keep the pool open until midnight I found myself sitting down in front of Dan waiting to write down some wisdom from the man himself.

IMG_20140329_141836_919Four pages of notes later (I’ve been to multi-day seminars that I didn’t come away with as many notes) I found myself looking forward to the 4 hour drive back to decompress my brain and think about it all. Here are some of the big takeaways I had from a lot of great insights…

If you need more than 1 pillow to get comfortable at night then you have some sort of joint mobility problem. This includes two pillows under your head or one pillow folded in half (I asked). After going home and trying to sleep with one pillow under my head I found that my neck felt better and the reason I needed two pillows was because I was using two pillows.

For everyone else, though, this is a good question to ask yourself and if you find that you need several pillows in strategic locations you need to do more mobility work.

People need to learn what “reasonable” workouts and diets are. The fitness industry is full of workouts and diets that are close to impossible to carry on long term and few people really understand what a reasonable workout should look like. The trick is find things that are effective but reasonable and repeatable long term.

– Finish the hunt. This came from the Gnolls Credo which is 1) Plan the hunt, 2) Hunt and 3) Discuss the hunt. The idea is to have a way to improve your approach but so many of us get lost at step 2. We get a great plan but we get a week or two into it and then we lose interest and start to tweak things or change things up.

The problem is that never lets us get to step 3 and we have nothing to really “discuss” and analyze. When there is no plan or we fail to execute the plan and “finish the hunt” we have no real way to improve our approach. For me planning the hunt is no problem but I need to be more consistent with finishing the hunt.

Strive for mastery. People need to understand that there will be plateaus in the process and that mastery falls in love with those plateaus. I love Dan’s emphasis on the word Mastery and how he encourages people to seek it on the path to strength and fitness.

I encourage the same thing from my clients because it is the only way to stay in love with the training process for a long time. Eventually you’ll run out of new exercises, training tools and routines and the only thing left is to go deeper into what you already know instead of seeking new things.

Focus on standards and gaps and let everything else come from playing your sport. You need to have some movement and strength standards you look for and the program should look to fill in the gaps. And since all sports emphasize some movements and patterns over others, making sure that you are addressing those things before more gaps appear is another goal of a strength training program.

For the record, Dan feels that deep squats and loaded carries are the key to taking care of a lot of the common standards and gaps issues we see with most people.

Lifting helps you learn how to play with the “tension knob”. For me this term was worth the price of admission because it sums up something I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain for a while. Most people have no control of their “tension knob” and can’t fine tune how hard their movement and technique is.

When you know how to better control your tension knob you can feel the tension in the technique and your opponent, allowing you to apply just the right amount of force so you maintain control without being too strong. This is a skill that you already possess and just need to learn how to apply it to the mats and the first step is using strength training to teach you how.

Getting your nutrition under control really boiled down to some simple steps. Start tracking your food to begin establishing some good habits, using that journal to help you establish more good habits or manipulate macro-nutrients and resorting to Black & White diets which are usually a bit extreme in some way for short term goals or to shock the system.

The quality of the food sources has much more to do with your results than anything else. You can eat one meal a day, six meals a day or anything in between and it can all work as long as you are focusing on quality. Don’t get hung up on specifics and feel free to experiment and find what works within the context of quality food choices.

Sometimes adding more more good stuff to your diet leaves less room for bad stuff. Focusing on what you should be adding in is a different mindset than what you should take out and may be a better approach for some people.

The sign of an authority is usually Less Equals More. They generally encourage that you use the minimum effective dosage. The goal of a program is not to figure out how much you can survive but how little you can do to see the best results. More isn’t better, better is better but this often gets lost in a world where seeing who can suffer the most often passes as “training”.

Mastery of fundamental movements trumps everything. If your program doesn’t include this component then you are really selling your results short. This is why mobility and strength training are important for BJJ since it is the best way to work on this component.

We also had some hands on sessions where I learned some great stretches and exercises to add to the toolbox. I’ll be shooting some videos later today of the Stick Windmill, which is a stretch that will really help those of you who struggle with the lateral hip movement needed for hip tosses.

All in all it was one of the best seminars I’ve attended and one of the few times I didn’t come away disappointed after meeting someone I really look up to in the fitness industry. So many times you find out that people aren’t who they seem to be when you meet them in person but Dan is the real deal.

IMG_20140329_152603_535If you get a chance to see him present I highly recommend it.

Oh, and I got this sweet beer koozie as well. Here I am putting it to good use after driving back home.

IMG_20140329_200638_525That’s it for now, if you have any questions or comments just leave a comment below this post. And if you liked this article please click one of the Like or Share buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems


Can 64% of your results really come from just 4% of your efforts?

The 80-20 Principles tells us that with anything in the world, it is the small causes that have big results. Also known as the Pareto Principle where it was first observed in the world of finance (named after the guy who first found that 80% of a nation’s wealth is held by 20% of the people), it has been shown to hold true in practically every facet of life.

Some things that take very little time and effort deliver big results on the mat.

Those who recognize this fact and take advantage of it have a huge leg up on everybody else. Perhaps the most popular example is The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris where he showed that if you can find and focus on those small things that cause the big results you can slash you work and effort while greatly increasing your results.

Of course, this all has a lot of direct transfer to training as well (Tim even wrote a book called The 4-Hour Body based on applying the 80-20 Principle to training). The truth is that most of your potential results only come from a small handful of things you can do and that when you focus on them you can see better results in less time.

80-20 2While this isn’t groundbreaking information for a lot of people, I recently read something about the 80-20 Principle that really changed my perspective on it. Namely, the 80-20 Principle is subject to the 80-20 Principle.

In other words, once you figure out what the top 20% is that causes 80% of the results you can then turn the 80-20 Principle on that top 20% and it still holds true.

The top 20 % of the top 20 % counts for 80% of 80% of your results.

If you are a bit confused you are not alone, it took this example for me to get it…

Let’s say that 20% of the roads in your town carry 80% of the traffic. If you then looked at the top 20% of those roads – or 4% of the total roads in your town – you would find that they carry 80% of the 80%, or 64% of all traffic.

That’s right, only 4% of the roads in your town carry 64% of all the traffic. Now, the numbers may not work out to exactly 80-20 every time – sometimes it is 70-30 or even 95-5 – but the principle of small things causing big results holds true.

The more you dig down into the top 20% of the top 20% the better you can leverage your time into results.

What this means for us as BJJ practitioners is that if you don’t have a ton of time to train then you better be focusing on that top 20% of things you can do with your time…or better yet the top 20% of the top 20%.

But this is where a lot of us get lost. Because so many people don’t understand the power of the 80-20 Principle they don’t understand that not every hour of training is created equal.

Some things you can do are much more productive than others.

And some things that take very little time and effort deliver big results on the mat (think stretching and mobility training for example).

Things like mobility training, strength training with an eye on the movement patterns you need on the mat and cardio training that focuses on the real energy systems demands of rolling deliver far more bang-for-the-buck than another mindless hour spent on “cardio training”, researching techniques on YouTube or beating the hell out of yourself in a CrossFit class.

When you tap into that top 20% of the top 20% you can have your life and your body back while rolling better than ever on the mats.

And this principle becomes even more important the more time you spend on the mats.

It gets tricky because it starts to become more of a juggling act as training time competes with mat time and other social/ family plans. Making sure you are doing the best with the time you have is crucial to making sure you stay rolling strong.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the 80-20 Principle and how it applies to training, rolling or even life please leave a comment below this post, I’d love to hear them.

And if you liked this article please click one of the Like or Share buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

p.s. I’m a firm believer that one of the most important things you can do to improve your performance on the mats is use a program that focuses on movement quality and what I call “Leverage Strength”. Leverage Strength allows you to more naturally use your body’s own natural leverage points to create more strength, allowing you to more easily overcome an opponents strength advantages.

Leverage Strength also allows you to use much less energy in the process, improving your energy efficiency and endurance as well as, if not better than, a lot of “cardio” training methods.

I’ll be writing more about Leverage Strength and how it can be harnessed in the gym to help you on the mats, in the meantime be sure to check out my 90 Day BJJ Bodyweight Workout Program, which is designed to help you improve your Leverage Strength with just your bodyweight.

Click here to learn more and grab a copy for only $9.