Most people nowadays have the habit of training in at least one other martial art and/or supplemental strength and conditioning in addition to BJJ. Yet, when you ask most of them what it is they train, they answer “Jiu-Jitsu”. In that sense, people usually look to other disciplines in order to improve as a grappler. BJJ Cross Training might include technical improvements via Judo, wrestling, Sambo, MMA etc. OR, it may go in the realm of strength and conditioning with lifting, running, Crossfit, Yoga etc. But which one translates the best to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? After all, cross training in them all is virtually impossible. Still, some sports out there really do compliant grappling perfectly, even though it may not be particularly obvious. Once such example is rock climbing.
Now, to be honest, rock climbing is a term that refers to many disciplines. It is definitely much more complex than we can do it justice in one article. So today, we’ll focus on those aspects of rock climbing that make it the perfect discipline for BJJ cross training. Whether you decide to go indoor or outdoor, you won’t make a mistake choosing climbing as your only supplemental training route. And yes, it will also help you with the technical portion of your Jiu-Jitsu, even though it may seem that it has no apparent relation in that sense.
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BJJ Cross Training
BJJ cross training has always been a big part of Gentle art. A first, it started with an open mind towards other grappling martial arts. As such, Jiu-Jitsu is full of moves that we borrow from the likes of wrestling, Sambo and Judo, to name but a few. In that sense, even the founders used to visit gyms that specialized in such arts. This is something grapplers still tend to do today. If you’re really looking to improve your Judo throws, you might learn the basics in BJJ class. However, if you want to really become a specialist, you’ll throw in the odd Judo class here and there to perfect the nuances.
As BJJ went more towards being a sport than a self-defense martial art, people turned to other avenues of improvement. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find a grappler who doesn’t at least run or lift weights. with most, it gets much more complicated ranging from Crossfit to innovative training methods like “natural movement” and the like. Whatever the choice, everything can help, albeit not equally. To that extent, rock climbing is not one of the major physical activities often associated with BJJ cross training. And it should be at the very top of the list!
Basically, it all comes down to free time. The saying “if you want to get better at BJJ than do more BJJ” is definitely great advice to follow. Yet, if you’re looking for something to cross train in that’ll have technical, physical and even mental benefits that carry over to grappling, then look into rock climbing!
Rock Climbing For Conditioning
Rock climbing is definitely one of the best activities a grappler can do. With climbing, you have the option of choosing whether you want to go indoor or outdoor. Indoor rock climbing or bouldering is definitely a very popular method. Think of “climbing walls” and you immediately know what we’re talking about. This could work with you secured with the help of a rope, or there could be a large, thick mat to fall on. Regardless, the experience is unique and well worth it. Particularly if you’re a grappler.
Outdoor rock climbing is a bit more complicated. For one, it is a setting that’s not as controlled as indoor climbing. That means you should probably get comfortable with climbing indoors before you look to go on actual rocks. Next up, ti may not be an option for everyone, due to geography, weather and the like. However, for those that can do it, it is a totally different experience than indoors climbing and a great way for BJJ cross training!
With climbing, whether it is indoor or outdoor, you have the option of precisely measuring your progress. In indoor climbing, for example, each wall has a number, and they all refer to how difficult the climb is. This can give you a clear indication of where you’re at, at least in climbing terms.
From a physical perspective, if you’re thinking it’s akin to pull-ups, you can’t be more wrong. Expect a whole body workout as you’ve never felt before. Actually, it reminds a lot of the first time you gave Jiu-Jitsu a try. It is the only thing, apart from grappling itself, that works all the muscles in all ranges of motion that are specific to BJJ.
Benefits For Jiu-Jitsu
Insane grip strength is the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about rock climbing and BJJ. OF course, the grips get a real hammering in both, but in a very different fashion. What you need to understand this that the way rockclimbing will build strength in your grips is much different than what BJJ will do. the end product, however, is a combination of both, resulting in ultra-strong grips from every aspect. Still, it goes way beyond the grips.
Climbing rocks involve your whole body. For one, you have to work your core constantly in order to both stabilize and be able to progress up or to the side of the walls. Furthermore, you’ll have to learn balancing and weight distribution in a manner you’ve never encountered before. Learning how to shift your weight and adjust at all times due to imposed demand is a skill that’s essential for BJJ. There’s a strength endurance to rock climbing that is going to get you ready for anything, including a bunch of grappling matches at a tournament!
Climbing requires a lot of technical works on top of athleticism, so you need to keep your mind turned on. The unique benefit of climbing for BJJ cross-training is that it has your working everything at all times. You need to keep an open mind and think about what you’re doing. Moreover, you need to be both strong and technical in every movement you do, particularly the mall ones. You need to be acutely aware of your surroundings in both sports, although in different ways. All in all, you need much of the same qualities in both grappling and climbing, and you get to develop them while doing two very different things. That is the definition of the perfect combination!
If you’ve never tried rock climbing, now is the time to do it! First and foremost, it is going to be unbelievably fun! Next, it’ll challenge your body and mind in ways only Jiu-Jitsu has before. Last but not least, it’ll provide you with multiple benefits that translate perfectly to BJJ. Rock climbing might just turn out to be the very best thing you can do, strength and conditioning-wise if you’re a fighter. The best thing about it is that you don’t need long to recover and you can go for hours and repeat it all the next day!