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.
In the struggle for increasing mat performance I am always tinkering with my workout routines. It seems that a constant struggle is balancing jiu jitsu training with complementary workouts. I know that the common adage is that if you only have enough time to do one workout, then it should always be jiu jitsu. But I find that I really do better in training if I do some additional workouts off the mats.
The big struggle for me has been learning how much and what type of ancillary training to do, so that the additional workouts don’t burn me out too much. I used to lift heavy weights using the stronglifts program but I found that it left me overly tired when hitting the mats. I also found that the strength I was gaining from lifting heavy didn’t exactly transfer to the mats.
It seems to me that once you reach a certain level of “strong” that being much stronger is not generally going to help jiu jitsu. That’s not to say that if you’re sparring with someone much stronger than you that it won’t be more of a struggle to deal with their attacks, but I think if you have a baseline of strength then that will take you far in jiu jitsu.
I find that having muscular endurance is much more important than having an over-abundance of strength when rolling. I feel like I can more easily leg press someone if I’m attempting something like an airplane sweep than I can keeping my legs under me when attempting to pass the guard of a strong guard player. My legs simply get tired out trying to scramble around their guard for too long of a time.
It’s the loss of muscular endurance that signals the beginning of the end for me in rolling. My goal is to be able to roll round after round without having my muscles give out from exhaustion (easier said than done for sure). So I’ve been tweaking my workouts to get there, and I’ve found the following routine to be the most helpful so far.
Chewy from Chewjitsu recently published a video titled “Friend Said BJJ Is Useless for a Street Fight (Boxing is Realistic)”, and that got me thinking about writing this blog post comparing striking vs grappling.
Prior to starting jiu jitsu, I studied several martial arts. I got involved in a few TMA’s (traditional martial arts) that I won’t name here. Those styles essentially amounted to nothing more than choreographed movements that had zero effectiveness (we’ve all been there right?). I took some boxing, I wrestled a little in high school, and did some MMA training.
I also had some street fights (nothing too serious thankfully), as well as some friendly fights with my buddies just to have fun and goof around.
I feel pretty confident in saying that if you’ve never been punched in the face before, it is a shocking experience. If you are training any type of martial art, but have never really been punched by someone trying to take your head off, then you’d be pretty surprised at how it feels.
A buddy of mine that I train with is a black belt in judo, and he was coaching me on some grip fighting fundamentals that he learned. He was showing me how it’s better to have a higher, inside grip on the lapels, and various ways of fighting to get two on one control. During rolling he got his grips and hit me with a cool sweep, the “Double Tap Foot Sweep” (found an instructional video by Jack Hatton posted below).
Through talking with him I realized that grip fighting is much more complex and cool than I was aware. It’s like a mini-chess game in the bigger game of grappling. Usually when I think of Judo techniques I’m thinking of the endgame, the throws, but now I see that there is an important game in fighting the grips.
I’ve had some nagging issues with my bicep and forearm on my left arm, and recently messed up my knee from getting caught in a heel hook. None of these issues are healing as fast as I’d like. I went to see the doctor and his best advice was to rest and let it heal. I probably need to see a good sports doctor, someone who can give me some exercises to speed up the recovery, but for now I’ll rely on Doctor Google.
I have been trying some of the stuff I’ve seen online for recovering from tendon/muscle strain. These include stretches, and using foam rollers to really get into the tissue. I’ve had some success with that, but still the pain is lingering. It’s been months for the bicep/forearm issue, and about 5 weeks for the knee.
I was talking with a friend at the place I train jiu jitsu about this. He was previously a power lifter, and had some lingering issues in the past as well. He recommended trying Voodoo Floss. I’d never heard of Voodoo Floss before, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Voodoo Floss works by compression. You wrap it relatively tightly around any affected area, and do range of motion exercises for that area, for a period of around 2 minutes (you don’t want to overdue it, due to the vascular occlusion that occurs). When you are done with the exercises and you release the band the theory is that all the blood rushes back to the area, bringing more nutrients to the injury than before. There may be some additional benefits due to “fascial tearing”, which I guess is the layers of tissue sliding on each other while compressed. From everything I’ve read online their seems to not really be any good scientific research of what’s actually going on. The results are mostly based on anecdotal evidence, but I’m willing to give it a shot to see if it helps.
After one session of doing range of motion exercises with the Voodoo Floss there was an improvement in my bicep, it felt “released” and no pain at all after that. Success! I did the same with my forearm and knee, and did not get immediate results, but will continue to do work with those areas and see what works.
Here are a couple of videos I watched to get an idea of how to use the Voodoo Floss:
This is my take on making a homemade grappling dummy. My goal was to create something durable, flexible, and strong, and to try to do it as cheaply as possible. I tried to do this under 50 dollars, but I ended up spending about 80 dollars. This design took a lot of duct tape, which was about half the cost. If you can get *good* duct tape cheaper than I did (about 10 dollars a roll), then you might be able to get the cost down. Regardless, I still saved a ton over buying one outright.
I started the design based on this link on various tutorials I’ve seen online. I combined a couple of ideas and built what I have listed below. I wanted to put together a detailed tutorial on how to build one, because I didn’t see a really well spelled out tutorial online already.
I’ve had some time to practice with this dummy. So far it seems pretty sturdy. I will update this page if there end up being any issues with it. Since this design uses the service cable, the flexibility allows you to position this dummy in a variety of ways, and the strength of the service cable allows the dummy to hold it’s position on it’s own. It can sit in upright in your guard, or wrap you in guard, etc.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
9 Feet of Service Entrance Cable, Aluminum, 4/0-4/0-2/0 200 Amp “AA8176 style U-type AWG 2” – Can be found at Lowes for about $1.89 a foot as of the time of this article. It comes bundled with 3 cables, the bundle of 3 at 9 feet will cost around 18 dollars total.
I deteremined the measurement of 9 feet for my frame by making the following calculations:
Measure the length of your foot x2 (if you have a 10 inch foot, then double that and make it 20)
Measure the length of your leg x2 (same for the leg, if you have 36 inch leg, then double it and make it 72)
Measure the width of your waist (if it’s 15 inches across don’t double this length, just keep it 15)
Add all the above measurements together 20 + 72 + 17 = 109 inches = approximately 9feet
As you’ll see later in the instructions, the piece of cable that makes up the feet/legs/waist would be the longest length you would need.
3 to 4 rolls of Duct Tape. I used a little over 3 rolls, you might be able to do it with a little less. (30 – 40 dollars)
2 Tennis Balls – 2 dollars at Target.
2 – 2″ x 15″ x 17″ sheets of High Density Foam. Can be found at Jo-Ann Fabrics for around 10 dollars a sheet.
Some filler material – I used 2 bed sheets and an old thick sweatshirt, all bought from good will for about 5 dollars total.
3 Pool noodles – Target, about 4 dollars a piece
1 pair of socks.
A mop, the kind with a hollow steel handle, and the stringy mop head that attaches directly to the handle, not to an piece of plastic between the handle and the head. The “Quickie – Clean Results Wet Mop” is what I used. About 7 dollars at Lowes.
I’m always trying to dial in my diet in order to help my jiu jitsu training. It seems that I’m constantly trying to overcome the length of time it takes to recover after training, and more specifically the length of time it takes to recover after injury.
My latest injuries include a fractured foot, possible “golfer’s elbow” (probably from holding onto lapels too tightly when playing closed guard), and a slightly torn tendon in my knee. None of these injuries are healing that well, which has caused me to scale back my training the past couple of weeks.
It lead me to think about what could cause things to take so long to heal. Granted, I’m a little older so generally my body recovers more slowly than it did in my 20’s. But I wonder if there is anything I can do with diet to speed up recovery?
This lead me to look into intermittent fasting, and what affect autophagy has on the healing process.
So it finally happened, I got caught in a heel hook and didn’t tap in time. I was attending our leg lock class, and we were playing king of the hill. My partner and I sat facing each other with our knees up and feet on the ground. We each had one foot in between the others legs, with the goal being to control your opponents legs and get both of your feet to the inside of your partners legs. Once you are able to get both legs to the inside, you then start working leg lock attacks from there. We started the battle, and I lost the initial phase. My partner controlled my legs and got the inside position. He quickly moved in to trap my legs. He was then able take advantage by grabbing my heel, which dangled dangerously near his arms as we were in a 50/50 position, with his legs safely hidden away. I tried to roll out of the position, and while doing so he secured the heel hook. It didn’t register to me that he had grabbed my heel as I was trying to escape 50/50, and the next thing I knew I felt a nauseating “pop” in my left knee. It hurt a lot, so much so that I yelled out a loud “ahhh”. My partner immediately stopped and asked if I was OK. Oddly, after the initial pop, the pain quickly went away, so we kept rolling. After king of the hill I finished class up with two rounds of sparring, then went home.
As I was driving home my knee started feeling a little sore. I got to my house, showered and went out to lunch with my family. At lunch the knee started aching a little more. This progression of pain went on throughout the day. By the evening my knee was aching pretty badly.
Blogging about Jiu Jitsu has become one of my favorite things to do. I’ve stated in other areas of this blog that I started it as a way for me to keep track of all the internet links I was finding, and all the stuff I was learning on my jiu jitsu journey. It’s evolved to be more than that at this point though. It’s truly become a labor of love.
Anytime I learn something new that I think could help my jiu jitsu I try to document it here. Whether it’s a new way of eating, a different way of working out, details about moves that I hadn’t known before, or just sharing cool videos I found online, I write that stuff in this blog. This blog has become like an online jiu jitsu diary, that I get to share with all of you.
In addition to being a good way to catalog information about jiu jitsu, blogging can also earn a little extra cash, through affiliate links or advertising fees. It does cost a little bit of money to run a blog, so if it’s possible to recoup some of those fees via affiliate links it certainly helps to keep the blog running.
It’s pretty interesting to read some of the income reports listed on other blogs. The amount of money that blogs can earn varies wildly, but here are some fun figures from some of the more popular blogs:
I just got back from a seminar put on by Chris Haueter at the Fight Gym in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. This is the second seminar I’ve attended with Haueter, and I said the same thing last time, I wouldn’t miss a Chris Haueter seminar when he comes around. Both times that I’ve attended his seminars I’ve had several “ah-ha” moments, which totally makes the price of admission worthwhile.
This seminar we focused on the rear naked choke. We spent a little time in the beginning of the seminar after our warm up talking about how to control our partner when we have back control. Haueter spoke about the importance of controlling our partner’s hips by pushing our hips right against their tail bone and using our legs to keep their hips pulled back into ours and to the ground. We spent some time with our partner trying to escape while we attempted to hold them in place. It was pretty amazing how much control we had this way, without even really needing to use our arms that much to control their upper body. Typically we’re taught to get a seat belt grip to maintain control but by controlling their hips with our legs we didn’t seem to need that grip to maintain control.