Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers plenty of ways to train. Even though it may seem like you always need a partner to learn (and you do) it doesn’t mean you train Jiu-Jitsu. A radical thought, I know, but if we learned anything from lockdown, it is that we have to be creative with our BJJ training. It doesn’t take much to figure out a way to drill some aspects of grappling, and it is a striking martial arts tool that can really come in handy for this. Have you ever tried doing BJJ heavy bag drills?
BJJ heavy bag drills might seem like an obsolete thing, given that there are grappling dummies out there that serve the purpose. However, a heavy bag beats a grappling dummy for just one simple reason – they’re much more accessible. You could get one cheap, make one yourself, or simply use a commercial gym where you’re bound to find one hanging in a corner somewhere. On top of it all, heavy bag drills really do help you develop better BJJ movement and some conditioning to go with it.
Using A Heavy Bag For Jiu-Jitsu
A heavy bag might not be your first choice in for training grappling, but try and think outside the box a bit. Heavy bags do offer great benefits, particularly when there’s no one around to train, and lifting weights is not really what you’re after.
First things first, a heavy bag, like the name suggests, is heavy. In fact, there are several different varieties, coming in different lengths, widths, and weights. Accordingly, you can work on different aspects of your BJJ with different heavy bags. The best option for BJJ heavy bag drills would be those floor-to-ceiling kickboxing bags that are very heavy and provide a lot of surfaces to work with. However, if they’re a bit too heavy, the middle-seized bags will also do the trick. It is boxing style short and lighter bags that are the least useful compared to other heavy bags. That said, you could really get some work done with one of them too if they’re nothing else available.
In terms of executing BJJ heavy bag drills, you have two basic options. One is to use the bag to train movement and transitions, which falls under the sport-specific category. Another is to use the bag for conditioning/strength exercises, replacing weights with an object that is similar to a human body. Of course, you could go for a combination of both, or even throw in some ground and pound or other MMA drills that’s up your alley.
The Perfect Drill “Partner” For Transitions And Movement
A heavy bag can really be the perfect training partner for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. It won’t complain, you can train painful pressure moves going as hard as you want, it won’t do the same back to you, and it doesn’t wear an unwashed belt. Okay, there are some drawbacks, but we’re talking drills here, not rolling. In that sense, heavy bags are the perfect tools to get some much-needed reps on key Jiu-Jitsu movements under your belt.
When it comes to BJJ heavy bag drills aimed at conditioning, think odd object training. You can lift the bag, carry the bag, swing the bag, etc. Basically most things you can do with a barbell, or a sandbag, you can do with a heavy bag. The benefit is that it feels much more like a human body, and it is much harder to hold on to because of its size and shape. So, you get a real-life functional workout without having to buy fancy functional pieces of equipment.
It is the technical aspects of grappling though that BJJ heavy bag drills really help you fine-tune. What you want to work on with a heavy bag is holding top positions, and figuring out the transition in between them. Guard passing, side control pressure, switching between side control variations, mount, knee on belly, etc., you can work on everything with a heavy bag. That said, you can actually really try and be as heavy as possible, working on weight distribution. Moreover, you get to figure out balance while transitioning, work on your movement speed, and try and put all the transitions together to be as fluid as possible.
A Few BJJ Heavy Bag Drills Ideas
Enough theory, let’s talk about some JJ heavy bag drills that you can actually do. First of all, I’ll just touch briefly on programming. Depending on your goals, bag type, goals, etc., organize BJJ heavy bag drills however you want. Going for time is usually best, as is doing a circuit of different drills that flow into one another. However, the choice is completely up to you.
How would a sample circuit look like? Try passing first using movement to get to the side of the bag. From there on, go through all pinning positions that score you points. Have fun with wrestling side control, Kesa Gatame, and Twister side, before you transition to knee on belly. Do a windshield wiper drill and head for mount. Once in mount, practice on being heavy for a bit and go for transitions again, using S-mount to get an armbar. From there, be creative in getting back up and flowing into the same, or different circuit.
If you want to focus more on specific techniques, like some guard passes that require balance and athleticism, BJJ heavy bag drills are the best way to really get the knack for them. A good example is the jump-over pass. Place a shoulder and your head on one side of the bag, and jump over, ending up in side control on the other side. You can then do more transitions, or better yet, repeat to get back and keep going like that. This pass is really useful when people turn into you, but it does take a bit of practice to figure out the finer details.
You might even opt to play with the bag from the bottom, but that’s only advisable if you have one of the smaller, boxing –style bags at your disposal. Going for squeezes, in the closed guard or a triangle is your best bet, although you can also do hip swing armbar drill and the likes.
There’s never a bad time to think outside the box in Jiu-Jitsu. However, the Covid-19 lockdown has really made us become more creative and figure out new ways of training. BJJ heavy bag drills have actually been around for a while, they just resurfaced now, given the need for training without a partner. That doesn’t mean we should abandon them, though, once things get back to normal.