Being able to separate the upper and lower body is an important skill on the mats. Guard passing, sweeps and a lot of other moves require you to point your chest one way and your hips in another direction, which is a specific type of mobility that a lot of people struggle with.
In this video I explain more about the importance of rolling like a baby to help your BJJ and show you a simple way to start ading it to your routine.
Few things take a beating on the mats like our wrists and shoulders. Almost everything you do in BJJ requires the upper body to either transfer force into your opponent or absorb energy from them, placing a lot of stress and tension on these two areas.
Plus, you have to deal with getting thrown and swept. The wrists and shoulders can take some good impacts from flying through the air, which means most of you reading this have or will have some sort of injury to these areas from hitting the deck.
What this all adds up to is a lot of tight, immobile wrists and shoulders. This can show up in a lot of ways, including restricting your movement on the mats and/ or neck/ elbow pain.
All which can detract from your performance and enjoyment. This means you need something to help you keep those areas moving and feeling their best.
In this video I take you through a 5 minute follow-along mobility routine that can help you improve your wrist and shoulder mobility. Try using it 3-5 times a week for the next few weeks and see how a little mobility can go a long way on the mats.
As your training progresses be sure to make time for your strength and mobility training. With routines like this you don’t need to let excuses like “I don’t have time” keep you from doing the things off the mat that will help you perform and feel better on the mat.
Leg Locks are the rage right now in the BJJ scene and for good reason…they work!
However, this doesn’t mean that everyone should just start grabbing ankles and falling back for wild, uncontrolled Leg Lock attacks. This approach to the Leg Lock game will not work in the long run and will only get you in trouble when you run into someone who understands the game and can capitalize on your mistakes.
As an official Leg Lock nerd I’ve geeked out on the movement principles behind a Leg Lock game and how I can improve them through mobility and strength training. This was both a selfish goal since I could use them to improve my own effectiveness, but it was also a way to help new people avoid the common mistakes.
One thing I’ve learned through coaching BJJ is that knowing what to do and physically being able to do it are two different things. And a lot of people lack the basic mobility and strength to apply what they are learning when getting started with Leg Locks.
Even the great John Danaher has a saying that reinforces this concept –
“Train movements before moves.”
He uses this saying to help people understand that if you can’t perform the basic movements needed for a specific move then it will be tough to do it correctly. You have to fix/ improve the basic movements needed first and then the technique itself will become easier to execute.
Which leads us to the mobility and strength drills I wanted to share with you today. They cover the 3 common mistakes I see people make and offer a way to improve the movement causing the problem.
These mistakes include…
Not being able to “close the triangle” and control the hips, usually related to a lack of hip mobility.
Not being able to trap and crush the foot in the armpit, usually from a lack of T-Spine and Shoulder Blade mobility .
Not being able to extend the hips without also extending the knees and “deadlifting” away, usually from a lack of specific Bridging work..
Based on this, here is a simple routine you can do at home to help fix and improve these key elements to effective Leg Locks:
Mobility & Strength Drills for Better Leg Locks
1 – Shin Box Switch X 10-20 reps each direction
2 – Sphinx Shoulder Pumps X 10-20 reps
3 – Sphinx Head Nods & Head Turns X 10-20 reps each
4 – “Leg Lock” Glute Bridge X 5-10 reps with 3 second hold at the top
Here is a video from a workshop I did going over these drills:
I recommend doing these drills 4-7 times a week for the next month and see how you’re feeling on the mats. Couple this with some focused drilling for your Leg Locks and you’ll be catching and finishing more people with much less effort.
Your shoulders are one of the most amazing structures in your body. They allow us to do a wide variety of things through their ability to move through a huge range of motion. Nothing else in your body even comes close to them in this regards and thanks to them we can do everything from throw a ball to cinch in an armlock.
The trade off, though, is that they are much more prone to injury than most joints. They can easily get put into a position where they are weak and vulnerable, making it important to keep your shoulders strong and healthy.
A big part of this is your shoulder mobility. Unlike flexibility, which is your ability to relax into a range of motion, mobility is defined as your ability to control and exert force through a range of motion.
This means that if you can stretch your shoulders into a position that you can’t actively control then you have a gap between your flexibility and mobility, and it is this gap where the potential for injury is greatest.
So while you certainly need to do some shoulder stretching, especially if you are really tight, you also have to incorporate mobility drills into your routine as well.
While there are a lot of ways to do this one of my favorite methods lately is to use Stick Drills. By holding a stick in both hands you are able to connect both sides of the body, maintain better tension throughout the range of motion and help improve your mobility faster (this is based on my experience and observations so please don’t ask for the studies).
In this video I go over some of my favorite Stick Drills to improve your shoulder mobility. They are a great way to warm up before training or anytime your shoulders start to feel tight.
Using mobility training like this can help stack the odds in your favor by improving the range of motion you can control and decreasing your risk of injury. We need all the help we can get on the mats and hopefully these Stick Drills will help you like they’ve helped me.
I’ve always thought of the Closed Guard is the quintessential BJJ position. For those of us old enough to have first been introduced to BJJ through the original UFCs, one of the most enduring memories is watching with wonder as a smaller guy on his back was able to mount attacks and finish people off.