You’re nearing the last couple of minutes of a, particularly hard match. Your arms are burning, your mind is all about the place. You’re stuck in the bottom with an opponent that’s not just crushing you, but also looking to submit you at the same time. You’re giving it your all but when you run out of breath you have to give in and tap. We’ve all been there, in both training and competition settings. However, very often, what we perceive as a strong submission is actually just us running out of breath. In other words, you’re pretty much submitting yourself. Breathing correctly is one of the hardest and most important lessons you’ll learn in Jiu-Jitsu. Moreover, there are a few different BJ Jbrathing methods and techniques that you can apply under different circumstances.
Breath control is everything in martial arts. However, for some reason, people tend to forget about it completely when they grapple. AS a white belt that’s just aking up Jiu-Jitsu, this is expected to happen. It is also normal to spend a month or so on a complete rigor while training until you get used to it. However, we often see highly conditioned and well-trained athletes also run out of brat at the highest levels. At that point, it is all about integrating the correct BJ Jbraething method in order to maximize your performance level. And it is not at all hard to learn.
The Importance Of Breath Control
For the most part, we take breathing for granted. However, it can play a huge roll in relaxing us when we’re under stress. And there are only a few things that can stress you more than rolling or competing. Very often you might hear a coach yell “relax”. That’s easier said than done and we’ve all thought that during competition or rolling. The trouble is when people tell you to relax they often forget to tell you how exactly. And no, “breathe” is not the explanation I’m thinking about.
Physiologically speaking, we use breathing to help exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. However, breathing also impacts other organ systems as well. By specific breathing, you can increase or decrease your heart rate, and even mood and state of relaxation simply by manging your brath. To that extent, every part of the brath plays a role. In those terms, there are three main parts to each brath: Inhaling, or sucking air in, holding the breath, and exhaling, or getting the air out of your lungs. The ultimate goal is to provide oxygen fro your tissues. One reason why your usual breathing pattern fails under stress is that tissues require much more oxygen than in general. That’s why you’re breathing rate increases and you eventually end up gassed.
The more you’re able to control your breath, the better your grappling performances are going to become. However, you’ll also learn how to recognize when your opponent is breathing in an erratic way. And use that to your advantage. So understanding BJJ breathing is not only going to help your difference, but rather your overall game.
BJJ Breathing techniques
When it comes to BJJ breathing techniques, you’ll run into a bunch of different ones. One example that pops to mind is Rickson Gracie in the documentary “Choke”. He sits on a beach doing al these funky things with his abdomen, reminiscent of a scene from “Alien”. What he is actually doing is controlling his breath and going to a very specific sequence of breaths. In Rickson’s case, this is a breathing method borrowed from Yoga. In fact, Yoga’s contribution to BJJ is far greater in the breathing domain than in the physical one.
When it comes to practicing BJJ breathing techniques you have two main ways of doing so. The first one is using a specific BJJ breathing system to roll and compete. This will require some practice though. However, once you have that down, you can rest assured you’ll never gas, regardless of who is on top or how long they stay there.
Another crucial practice is practicing your brath outside of rolling. Even better yet, practicing somewhere in nature, or at a calm spot at home is the best. That way, you can really focus on understanding a breathing pattern. When the time comes to use that patter under stress, you’ll already have it down.
On the subject of BJJ breathing techniques, there are no methods that are designed exclusively for grappling. Instead, there are different breathing methodologies, mostly form Yoga, or innovator s like Wim Hoff, that are perfectly suited for Jiu-Jitsu. All you need to understand is when you should use them, and what each of them actually aims to accomplish.
Practical Applications And Examples
We’ll start with Rickson’s “percussive breathing”. This is a type of breathing that focuses on the exhale, thus helping your body get rid of the pent up carbon dioxide from cellular metabolism. The method in all the best breathing exercises is using your belly to move your diaphragm, rather than just your intercostal muscles. For Rickson’s breathing, you inhale deeply and then use several (5-6) sharp exhales to force air out of your lungs. You can practice this on ti’s own, or use it the entire time you spend rolling.
One more great way of actually breathing in more oxygen when you need it is to reverse this. What I mean is to use 4 sharp and distinct inhales, pulling as much air in as you can with each. Then, follow this up by a long exhale. This is yet another one form Yoga and it is my preferred way of breathing during rolling.
The final one is a bit tricky to pull off, as you’ll need to hold your breath in. That’s something that you shouldn’t do, unless you know-how. The rule of thumb is that you never hold your breath in while you’re trying to do something with your body. IF you’re just lying there, though, and you need to calm your mind, simply breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 16 and breathe out for 8. You can use different times as long as you keep this ratio. It is a proven method to calm you down in seconds!
Just remember never breathe quickly and erratically, or hold your breath while you’re doing techniques. Moreover, if you want success with any BJJ breathing method, remember to use your nose for both inhales and exhales.
There are countless BJJ breathing methods ut there and you’re welcome to try them all. Feel free to experiment, and tailor things to fit your needs. If this article does nothing else except reveal to you how important breath control is in grappling than it has served its purpose. Whatever technique you use, try and focus on your breathing more during every moment on the mats. It is one of those “invisible Jiu-Jitsu” things that actually have a huge impact on performance.