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How important is it to create a stretching routine to improve your Jiu Jitsu?

How important is it to create a stretching routine to improve your Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an incredibly demanding sport both mentally and physically. Increasing flexibility is an essential component of enhancing athletic performance. Not only does it speed recovery time from injuries and sore muscles, but it also prevents the risk of potential injuries. This is why BJJ is an excellent path to increasing flexibility all on its own.
The massive number of positions, techniques, and variations result in you moving your body in many unconventional ways relative to traditional movements such as walking. Flexibility and stretching for BJJ play a significant role in improving your grappling and keeping you healthy and injury-free to ensure a long training career. Incorporating stretching for BJJ is a crucial component of a long-term, balanced training program. As well as protecting our knees, elbows, shoulders and necks from training injuries is perhaps the most important reason to be flexible for Jiu-Jitsu. A flexible joint is less likely to give under pressure or have tendons or ligaments at risk of tearing.
In addition, flexibility in Jiu-Jitsu helps you control your body, allowing you to perform techniques quicker and more precisely. The overall benefits of flexibility help prevent injuries, improve physical performance, reduce muscular pain, postural problems, relax the body, provide more blood and nutrients to the muscles, and better coordination.

“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was the best investment I made for my child…”

“BJJ was the best investment I made for my child.”

I heard from a parent this phrase the other day and it resonates with me as I honestly get touched by this issue, especially when involves kids and teens.

Throughout the years I had many parents that came personally for a chat willing to express their appreciation. They could not be happier on the positive changes that they were noticing on their child after having embraced BJJ as a new routine in their child’s life. Many times, their eyes were full of tears and mine would go in a remarkably similar direction. It has been a massive joy to be part of this journey.

The issues that I have seen Jiu Jitsu help with, inspire, and support a transformation in the most positive way, almost like a rewiring process were:

Attention and learning difficulties at school, low self-steam, body image issues, socialization, lack of humility, anger issues, obesity, phobias, suicidal thoughts, fear, resilience, accountability, lack of discipline and lack of respect.

Why I think that BJJ helps with these issues.

1 – Bjj is a very democratic sport/martial art where every child feels accepted straight away regardless, any body shape, background, social skills etc…. There is only one group, the BJJ group. Socialization will happen with all the children.

2- Give Kids a new set of Values and Goals.

A habit of hygiene, discipline, hard work, socialization, respect, teamwork, and resilience are values that your child will develop daily on the mat. A BJJ grading system is based on hard work and commitment, which gives to the children a sense of focus and determination towards a medium-term goal by presenting a rewarding system based on their efforts and merits different from most instant short rewards gratifications that all extremely busy and unconditional loving parents ended up providing to their kids.

3 – Schools lack of real participation in kids character building and self-development.

Unfortunately, (I heard that many times,) Schools avoid dealing with any type of misconduct, bullying and fights. They would rather spell the students and let parents deal with it at home.  In a supportive Jiu Jitsu School, the coach will address any issue, having serious conversations with the children and teenagers, setting boundaries, and making clear expectations.

Having the coach as the role model for your child, allows the students (especially teenagers) to build trust and a supportive relationship with the coaches. Through supportive relationships comes a positive influence on children’s development as a human being, providing opportunities to have open conversations that sometimes would not come up with parents and family members. Which can be an extremely important ally to the parents.

4 – The big confidence and resilience booster for kids and teens.

During BJJ classes kids will learn in a safe environment how to lose, how to win and to try again without feeling insecure, ashamed, or angry. Instead, they will focus on techniques and try to think about what happened so they can try to do better next time and that is exactly the resilience knowledge that will be useful in their bright future ahead.

5 – The benefit of mindfulness acquired by the practice of Jiu Jitsu. 

BJJ training requires the child’s mind and body to be present and focus the entire time, taking away anxiety and mind rumination. It makes the child more fit and confident by the nature of this full-contact sport/ martial art. This martial art will create a good mechanism, so they become able to defend themselves and not freeze in case they are being confronted or even molested. 

This article was written by:

Eduardo Dias

Garra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Brisbane head coach – 4th Degree Black Belt

Live Life – Love Jiu-Jitsu. OSS

Five things I wish I knew when I started BJJ that would make it a lot easier…

1 – Be humble

We, unfortunately, live in a world where people in general wrongly mistaken humility as a sign of weakness. They spent their entire life’s pretending they know everything in fact this is one of the biggest problems in corporations these days!
In Fact, the more humble you are the more you will learn, absolve and be prepared to spot situations where you can make a question and get a very good insight in order to evolve as a practitioner.
Nearly every practitioner from a blue belt level and definitely from purple will have at least one position or area of their game that they play extremely well and when I spot that I have no problem in asking that training partner to show me or explain to me how they do it, and I have been training for over 30 years. If you are not prepared to be humble you will miss one of the most powerful windows that allow you to craft this infinity world of BJJ.


2 – Mindset/Approach

Don’t see getting submitted by being defeated but as an opportunity to learn. The positive thing to do is try to understand in your head why you have got submitted and how you could avoid it. Not getting submitted if you are training BJJ is the same as not getting wet if you are learning how to swim.
Remember you can always ask questions to your partner after the training or on the open mat classes if he does something always good with you. For this approach to happen and your jiu-jitsu to flourish is very important that you try to think about BJJ outside the mats and recreate or ask questions in regards to what is happening in your training. That is why going to hard and muscle up without any technique just to feed your ego won’t take you long in BJJ, actually in anything in life. You need a good solid foundation.
Observation as part of your approach is a key element on your evolution. You should do this while you are also watching people training too. Do you know each of your training partner’s best sweeps? Which side they normally pass or defend their guard better?
How about their go-to submissions? How you will know the best game to play against your opponent if you don’t know the weaknesses and strengths in their games???
This is one of the most neglected technical aspects in BJJ in my opinion that can have a huge impact on your personal training and evolution as a jiu-jitsu practitioner, providing a lot more knowledge acquired just spending the time observing and analysing! By the way, this was one of the most important tools that helped Helio Gracie develop the art of BJJ!

3 – RESPECT THE RULES AND ETIQUETTE.

There is a massive bond that BJJ creates between training partners. An easy way to explain it is that we put our life and safety on the other person’s hand, expecting that after our initial tap or verbal stop sign, the other person will release straight away. Therefore this environment must be controlled! Safety must come first always!!!
Hygiene is an obvious part of safety in BJJ so if you are not capable of trim your nails regularly so you don’t cut and infect someone else or wash your Gi regularly ( even if in your mind you think that you did not sweat at all…), I can tell you when you start to train again next time, you will stink and if I am your coach I will send you home straight away just like we learned in Brazil because safety is the priority and skin infections are a nasty and contagious problem that must be avoided at all costs. If you are not able to wear footwear, preferably sandals to walk around while off the mats so you don’t bring dirt to the mat where we will be putting our faces……or you are not able to keep the toilets clean after using it….Honestly, you should not start BJJ!
Be respectful with the environment so never use course words and have inappropriate actions that could impact other people’s families.
A good BJJ CLUB is prepared to create and share values that are very important for the whole community that they bellow and as result get better human beings and your example counts once you are part of that team culture.

4- Patience

Everyone wants to get good very quickly but in reality, it takes time to even get the foundations right. It is funny but the better are your foundations the better will be your BJJ….so why you should have any rush!
Don’t compare yourself with other people as everyone grows in different times stages and games. Compare only with you and that way you know what you need to get better at. This is very important! People spent hours talking about other people in BJJ but are never able to analyse their own BJJ games with weaknesses and strengths.
Don’t take BJJ like a race like look one position and go ok I know this one what is next. To say you know something in BJJ means nothing since, THE MATS DON’T LIE so you should be doing very well in training all the time then you know this position…just because someone showed you before in BJJ that means nothing…..So be kind and gentle with yourself. Immerse and try to do things out If you are not prepared to immerse yourself then maybe you won’t have the privilege of having a good BJJ. You might hate me for saying this now but after 30 years of training Jiu-Jitsu I can honestly tell you: You will never know everything. You might hate me again but I honestly think that this is the most amazing thing about BJJ….there will be always a fresh or even an unknown room for improving, experimenting, creating, exploring, learning, sharing, trying, analysing, observing you got the picture right!
Don’t compare yourself with other people as that is not your reality.
Every person will have their own Journey as BJJ is infinity a Black belt will always be a white belt that never gave up so he got a few more learning lessons and life lessons on his belt!

5 – BE HELPFUL AND COMMITTED

Different from many other Martial arts, BJJ Academies, in general, will strive to always teach and show moves to every student without hiding any “secrets”. The understanding for this is the better we can make our training partners be the better I will be able to be.
For example, if I always submit you in an armbar from the close guard I will show you how to defend so I automatically have to improve myself! Sound crazy but works and the Mats don’t lie!
Have a positive attitude towards learning and respect for the teachers. Don’t mind starting again something that maybe you have been doing for years but you found a better way to do it! Be open-minded as your ego is your big enemy in BJJ!
Regularity is crucial so unless you got sick or injured you should be training. If you have a terrible week (we all have that in real life) Try to make it twice a week and you will have an overall great regularity.

The five things to look for when you choose a Jiu Jitsu Academy.

The five things to look for when you choose a Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Great coaches don’t just occur overnight. It takes a long time. Aside from the process of accumulating a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the art. A coach must also develop a maturity and sensitivity to understand and appreciated the individuality of a student, their reasons for training and the goals they wish to achieve.

1. Character of the Coaches

A great coach inspires their students to achieve their goals. Through close assessment of a student’s physical and mental capabilities, a great instructor can guide and support a student through constructive feedback and instruction that nurtures that students’ evolutions in the sport.

Look for a coach that is focused on your development and not one looking to boost their ego. A great coaches Jiu Jitsu speak for itself.

A great Jiu Jitsu school starts and end with the coaching staff. Look  coaches that are focused on building a safe, respectful family orientated environment. Jiu Jitsu is about personal improvement. Creating better human beings and the community that flourish together. A great coach understands Jiu Jitsu benefits spread far greater than the mats of the gym. They are facilitators in creating a positive environment with wherever they go and with whoever the interact. A great coach will make the gym feel like your second home.

2. Curriculum

A Jiu Jitsu school worth its salt has a curriculum. This is a crucial component for students to learn and improve their Jiu Jitsu. A curriculum assists students learning, retaining and adjusting their technical and practical information far quicker than a school who teaches in a hap hazard unformalised manner.

It is important to note that a curriculum does not mean a ridge step by step process followed day in day out. A successful curriculum will identify a structure (time blocks if you will) of overarching positions and/or concepts (closed guard for example) that allows each coach of the academy to add their input and his personal touch into the program.

A curriculum should be tailored specifically for each of our programs like junior kids, senior kids, beginner’s, ladies only classes and so on. This way the students of focus received the training best suited for them.

3. Safety and Cleaning

A gym must be clean. The wellbeing of students is the primary focus of any good Jiu Jitsu school. This should include at a minimum; regular cleaning and disinfection of all floor, wall and bathroom surfaces. Preferably using natural products (over harsh chemical options) such as Eucalyptus and Vinegar concentrates which have proven antibacterial properties.

When visiting a school, don’t be afraid to look around and even ask the staff about their cleaning protocols.

4. The environment

The gym should feel welcoming

It should have a friendly energy where everybody regardless of their ranks or position is friendly and supportive.

A good school will nurture the development of new students. An academy with a great culture understands with the right support a new person, in time will become another technically proficient  training partner. Is this really what we all want?     

Observe if the students around you act natural and display respect for each other and for their coaches.

It is all about respect!

5. Do a trial Class

Still unsure about which school is right for you?

Visit a few different academies for a trial class. This is the best way to see first-hand what the school might be like long term.

Don’t focus on Jiu Jitsu so much, rather observer the points 1 to 4 in their natural state.

If you are not yet comfortable to jump into a class. Just  watch a class first and if you like what they see then give it a go.

The last thought. When it comes to choosing a school, the decision is 100% yours. If something doesn’t feel right, it is probably because something isn’t right. Listen to your gut, try a few schools and make the right decision for you. In the end, its your Jiu Jitsu journey!

“ Article written by Eduardo Dias BJJ 4th Degree Black Belt and Garra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Australia Head Coach.”

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