I work with a good amount of martial arts guys, many of whom train BJJ.
This isn’t news, I know, I mention it a lot.
But today I was working with a very experienced practitioner and we ended up chatting about the sport and its effect on the body.
Due to the nature of the game, BJJ is very much an upper body game. The legs are usually trained for flexibility and little more.
Yet most players fall victim to lower body injury. Knees are commonly injured, hips are stressed and the low back gets hammered.
It’s the reason I wrote Fighting Back in the first place, as more and more of the lads were coming to me with a very un-manly complaint of low back pain.
Why mention “un-manly” because they lads are proud of the shoulder pain they received as they resisted and escaped that submission attempt, the knee was hurt when so and so did this super-mega-awesome sweep.
But the back, well that just niggles away.
But there is a way around this, in fact three ways.
1 – Stop doing crunches for abs
2 – Open up those hip flexors
3 – Learn to deadlift, swing and squat
For abdominal strength, switch to various plank style drills.
A favourite version of the plank is the push up, I highly recommend this, especially if you utilise the posterior pelvic tilt as described in the clip below. If you simply hold the top of the push up, then that’s a plank. Here’s the clip:
For hip flexors, try Tom Furmans Activate Bridge.
It’s incredibly effective at opening the hip flexors via the process of reciprocal inhibition. By bridging up and pushing against the band we get a deep contraction in the glutes our hip extensors, which will allow the hip flexor to relax for a while.
The active stretch in between puts some length into the muscle before it begins to tighten up again.
Have a watch here:
If you wrap a resistance band or your belt around your knees and push out against it, the result skyrockets.
And then get strong. Like proper strong.
And there’s doubt that real strength comes from training the Deadlift, supported by the kettlebell swing.
Learn to squat deep, all the way down until the calves touch the hamstrings. Learn to rest in this squat position, move around in this position before we start to load it up.
I wrote a series on the knee which you can get hold of HERE
These few points can be done around your regular BJJ training, for example, open the hip flexors prior to training.
After training hit the deadlifts followed by a super set of Kettlebell Swings and Planks.
Or do a dedicated gym session 2-3 days per week.
You’re back and knees will thank you for it.
If you want to know more about the topic, don’t forget to check out the Fighting Back book