With the world on lockdown (crazy to think that we can legit type that sentence) it was only a matter of time before the coronavirus pandemic impacted our training. At this time scientists are still scrambling to understand what the coronavirus is, who it impacts, to what degree and what can be done about it. As a precautionary measure governments world-wide are instituting mandatory quarantine procedures. Here in the states local elementary, middle and high schools are shutting down for a minimum of two weeks (and potentially moving to remote learning when school goes back in session), companies are sending employees home to work remotely, and events of all sizes are getting cancelled.
The academy I train at is closing its doors for two weeks, and possibly longer depending on what happens with the nationwide quarantine. I know that many other academies are doing the same. FaceBook is filled with posts announcing temporary academy closings.
So this has got me (and probably you and everybody else) wondering what can be done to keep our conditioning in shape while we’re off the mats. Being furloughed from training does suck, but it actually opens up some opportunities to get stronger while away from grappling.
My plan is to use this time to hit the kettlebells hard. A typical week sees me balancing jiu jitsu classes with kettlebell workouts, and trying to make sure I don’t overdue the training so my body can recover. With being stuck off the mats for a while I don’t have to be as concerned about pushing myself really hard with kettlebell training.
There are two routines I plan on working through with the kettlebell:
Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple and Sinister
Pavel’s Simple and Sinister routine is well known in the kettlebell world. It is a deceptively simple workout that leads to great results in cardio, posterior chain health, strong glutes and even improved grip strength.
The core workout is simply the following:
- Perform 10 repetitions of one-armed kettlebell swings every thirty seconds for 10 minutes.
- Perform 10 Turkish get-ups, doing one repetition once every minute for 10 minutes.
You want to start with a kettlebell weight that isn’t too hard to handle in the beginning, and work your way up from there. I’m currently using a 45 lb kettlebell, but I started with only 35 lbs so that I could get the mechanics of the Turkish get-up learned safely.
I use the Interval Timer – HIIT Workouts app to time my repetitions for the Simple and Sinister workout.
10 Minute Kettlebell & Bodyweight Workout for BJJ
A friend of mine that I train with shared the video below with me. This is a workout that he is currently doing, and one that I plan to work into my routine over the next few weeks.
BJJ Solo Drills
Now is also a good time to really dive into jiu jitsu solo drills. Solo drills have always been something I say I’m going to get around to, but rarely ever do. With all this downtime there should be plenty of time now to dive into these. In addition to focusing hard on solo take-down entries I’m going to incorporate some of the techniques in Jason Scully’s excellent video:
If you happen to have a heavy bag laying around, you can also try these solo drills designed to improve your top pressure:
Yoga for BJJ
In addition to strength and conditioning, it’s a good time to take some steps to prevent injury. Stretching and Yoga are good ways to undo all the unbalanced muscle tightness that jiu jitsu causes. It’s also another one of those things that I don’t do as often as I should, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
Meditation is one of those activities that at first doesn’t seem like it’d help your jiu jitsu, but upon deeper reflection you can find some very important benefits that meditation has.
First, here’s how I meditate, it’s very simple and it’s important not to overcomplicate it.
- Stack pillows against a wall and sit on them. I like to sit against a wall so that my back has something to lean against. I don’t want to get distracted by my back getting sore or tired while meditating for extended periods.
- Close your eyes and start breathing in and out through your nose.
- In the beginning of your meditation focus on breathing deeply into your lower back. This is how you’ll be able to fully fill up your lungs.
- After you’ve practiced breathing fully for a period of time, maybe 5 minutes, simply shift to focusing on the sensations of the breath coming in and out of your nostrils.
- If your mind wanders, starts thinking about chores, bills, work, etc just bring your attention back to the sensation of air that is coming in and out of your nostrils.
That’s it. Do this for about 20 minutes a day, or even twice a day. If you don’t have 20 minutes then just do 5 or 10 to get started. I use the Enso Meditation app on my iPhone to keep track of the time.
But how does meditation benefit jiu jitsu? For me it does two things, it helps me learn to be aware of my breathing. This is really important when you’re rolling. I have a tendency to hold my breath when I’m doing any activity that requires a lot of exertion. This is horrible for cardio when rolling. If I can be more aware of how I’m breathing, and breath properly then my rolls go so much better. Meditating daily gets me in the habit of being conscious of how I’m breathing.
The other thing it does for me is to generally keep my mind calm. Meditation stops my mind from racing. As a result this leads to less stress and anxiety, and I can become more aware of when my body is tensing up so that I can relax it when unnecessary tension creeps in. The less tense you can be, and the more focused your mind is, the better your rolls will go. At least that’s been my experience.
If you want to learn more about meditation in general I highly recommend Culadasa John Yate’s book “The Mind Illuminated”. It’s by far the best book on meditation I’ve ever read.
Catching Up On Tutorial Videos
I’ve collected a bunch of jiu jitsu videos over the past couple of years that I just haven’t had the time to really study. I have several of the John Danaher instructionals, a Lachlan Giles video, some Bernardo Faria videos, and more.
My goal is to set aside an hour (probably longer) on the days that I would normally train and catch up on those videos. I plan on taking detailed notes, and will attempt to find several techniques to practice visualization on. My hope is that I can get back on the mats not only with my stamina intact from the exercises above, but also with new skills to try out from the videos I will be catching up on.
Additionally, Benardo Faria has offered to provide a video of your choice for free to help support the jiu jitsu community during the coronavirus quarantine.
100% For One Of My Instructional Videos – COUPON CODE: FARIAFREE
Dear Fanatics, as most of the BJJ Schools are closing…
This is an interesting time we are living through, but I think with some creative thinking we can actually take advantage of the free time we’re all about to have. I always try to find opportunities in any situation, and I think this is a good time to catch up on all the ancillary training that we don’t get to do normally.
My son also trains, so I need to help him stay in ‘fighting shape’ during this time too. We have some mats in the basement and I’ll be drilling with him as well. Hopefully I can get some drilling in with some teammates too.
I can’t wait to get back to training, but in the meantime I got a plan to keep improving during the coronavirus quarantine.