Whenever people hear of Helio Gracie rolling deep into his 80s they always try to figure out the secret. Was it down to the Gracie diet? Did he do Ginastica and Yoga? What was his BJJ style? The answer is, Helio had no particular silver bullet. He just knew how to train well before he was 80. The trick to a lifetime of BJJ training is not in how you train when you are old, but rather how you do it when you’re younger. To that extent, we can offer some crucial BJJ training tips that will extend your stay in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu well past your prime. You might not end u prolling as long as Helio, but you’ll certainly get a lifetime out of it!
A healthy body is a vessel for a healthy mind. How do you get a healthy body? Well, you train, of course. What most people do not realize is that training actually puts our bodies under stress.
In terms of training, it is the way in which our body responds to stress that results in certain benefits. However, when you take everything into account, we are not really built for a lifetime of intense physical activity. Particularly when that physical activity is grappling.
The way Jiu-Jitsu taxes our bodies is unlike anything else in the domain of physical training. BJJ makes us move our bodies through space in unusual ways, perform a lot of bodyweight movements and carry and manipulate the weight of our opponents. Throw in submission holds and there’s only so much that our bodies can take.
If you know how to train, however, you can really reap the benefits with just a fraction of the side-effects. We offer some key BJJ training tips to help you significantly extend your BJJ journey.
BJJ Training Tips For Longevity In Grappling
The trouble with longevity is that people do not start thinking about it early enough. There’s only so much you can do at 60, and given BJJ’s injury rate, that might even be a stretch for most. Instead, you need to start thinking about training for longevity form the moment you sign up.
Remember that Carlos and Helio really knew the ins and outs of training, on top of having some really impressive genetics.
Training For Your Goals
Fist and foremost, make sure you know what your training goals are. No amount of BJJ training tips will help if you have no idea what you’re doing on the mats.
Whether your goal is to stay in shape, become a top competitor, learn and understand the art or learn self-defense, be clear about it. Once you are, you can approach your training the right way from the get-go.
This does not mean focusing specifically on one aspect and abandoning all others. On the contrary, it means using every session to work towards your goal. You can still learn valuable competition lessons by training self-defense. Or you can get in tremendous shape by visiting the occasional competition training.
Know what you want, and figure out what types of training modalities fit your goals. Give everything a try and find your passion. Remember, there’s no way to be the best in every aspect of the art, so be real about it if you want to spend a lifetime training!
Don’t Be Afraid To Tap
This is a really hard one for people just starting. It is even harder for those that are blue/purple belt level and looking to actively compete.
It is also the number one reason why people end up with a bunch of recurring injuries when they grapple. Those injuries that you’re not feeling now will get really annoying once you get past 50, believe me.
One of the best BJJ training tips ever is to tap a lot, and in general, much earlier than you think. there’s a great concept on the subject that is really useful for people that like to make BJJ a lifelong experience.
Know the “point of no return” for as many moves as you can. There are escapes in defenses in BJJ that are technical and that work. There is also a point past which anything you do is down to chance. And you do not want to keep taking that chance!
So tap, dust off and go straight back in it!
Diet And Lifestyle
When you enter BJJ, nobody tells you that it is going to take over your life completely. Even those people that disappear after blue belt do live the lifestyle for a while. And, if you’re already a purple belt that you’re in it for life.
Knowing your goals and tapping early are great ways to protect your body I training. But what happens when you’re not on the mats? This is when the body heals and rebuilds and really needs your help.
For one, you need to be wary of what you eat. There’s no need for a diet but you do need real food to fuel your body. So, choose something that’s sustainable and healthy and let it change your life. And no, it doesn’t have to be the Gracie diet.
On a different note, show your body some love. Make sure you stretch or do Yoga as often as possible. As little as 3-5 minutes a day is plenty. Also consider visiting spas, cryotherapy, massages, and similar relaxing activities.
Choose Who You Train With
This is arguably one of the most thrown around BJJ training tips. it is also the one you really need to take seriously. There’s no glory in getting a submission over the top competitor in training. Especially if it means you won’t be able to move properly for the next week.
Choose your training partners according to your goals, and always aim for people of similar build. In certain cases, even go for lighter weights if possible. In terms of rank, both lower and higher belts will do, again depending on your goals.
there’s another aspect tot raining partners you need to consider. That is the style of rolling. leave the Spazzes and the ultra-competitive guys aside. You don’t have to roll with anyone unless you’re okay with it, so do not feel the obligation to answer any call.
After all, you’re in this for life, right?
Deal With Injuries
The hardest thing for a BJJ addict is to accept injury recovery time. As a matter of fact, accepting injuries is a problem to begin with, as unusual as it sounds. The thing with injuries is that they have a nagging habit of returning. The older you get, the worse they become.
Remember when I said you need to show your body some love? Well, letting it heal from twists, bumps, crans, etc is a real Valentines day special for your body. Let your injuries heal by doing the one sane thing grapplers hate- taking time off.
Oh, and do see doctors for stuff that really look bad. Bonus tip: choose a doctor who rolls if you really want to be heard.
Read that again. It says Vacation, not Traincation! That implies packing swimming trunks instead of Gis and rashguards and downloading cocktail bar address rather than BJJ academies.
Just like with work, you need to give both your body and mind some time away from BJJ. there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Go somewhere and do something else that doesn’t involve grappling with other people!
You’ll only be better at BJ when you get back!
Try Flow Rolling
AS you might notice, most longevity BJJ training tips are related to one another. This one ties in with choosing a solid training partner. The thing with flow rolling is that you need a willing partner to execute it correctly.
Once you find a soulmate who likes to take things easy, make it a habit of flowing at least once each class. AS good and fun as it may be, make sure that you’re not only for rolling through. Keep throwing in the occasional hard roll to keep you in top shape!
More Privates, Less Open Mats
This tip, along with the next one area aimed towards older grapplers. Perhaps you joined BJJ late in life or didn’t really think of longevity until now. Worry not, there are still things that you can do!
One thing to consider is taking private lessons on a more regular basis. Ideally, you’d switch an open mat for a private on a weekly basis. Since this can be financially challenging, you might consider switching open mat with a drills only or flow rolling session.
Keep getting in privates when you can though! they’re invaluable as a learning tool, particularly when you hit a snag.
Remember that you’re not the first one that’s looking to extend their BJJ journey. Most of these BJJ training tips come courtesy of people that have already faced these problems.
There is a reason Masters’ divisions exist in competition. The strategy of two Master competitors is much different from that of adult competitors. Whatever they do in competition, you can do in training.
That means figuring out safe spots that do not tax your body but let you control a roll. It also means that the technique is your best friend, and strength is your enemy. Become smart, technical and sneaky. this is the best way to ensure you can challenge Helio’s record of grappling into old age!
Check out some of Daniel Beleza’s Masters’ strategies in his “Masters’ Guard” DVD Instructional. Beleza is a multiple time Masters World Champion and a wizard when it comes to the guard. This 3-part instructional is as good as any of the BJJ tips we offered, so give it a shot!
Summing It Up
Training Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t have to come at the expense of your health. Yes, the sport is demanding, but it is also very fulfilling. Use these BJJ training tips to make sure you keep reaping the benefits with none of the drawbacks! It sucks if you can’t keep doing the one thing that you’ve dedicated your life to, just because you did too much of it. Stay smart and safe, and keep rolling until your time is up!