Improve Your Leglocks With These Mobility and Strength Drills

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.

Until next time…

James Wilson
BJJ Strength Training Systems

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Stick Drills for Better Shoulder Mobility

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.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

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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

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5 Minute Basic Warm Up Drill for BJJ

A few weeks ago I posted a video showing you some ways to use the Foam Roller to improve your mobility. Like I pointed out in it, while some people may argue the benefits of strength training for BJJ almost no one disputes the need for mobility training. The better you move the better your flow on the mats and the fewer overuse injuries you’ll incur.

Taking things one step further I wanted to share a basic mobility routine I like to use to warm up for workouts both in the gym and on the mat. In fact, we’ve started using this sequence as part of the class warm up at my BJJ academy and I’ve gotten some great feedback from fellow students as to how it has helped them.

In this video I show you a 5 minute routine that will improve your joint mobility and get you warmed up and ready to rock.

Try this warm up routine next time you train and let me know what you think. If you have any questions or comments on it just post a comment below and if you liked this video please click one of the Like or Shore buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

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