With Worlds rapidly approaching, we reached out to a few elite competitors and coaches to discuss how they like to warm up for matches. It is always helpful to see what others are doing to prepare for competition; especially at the highest levels of the sport of course. We asked the following two questions to each competitor, and modified them slightly to ask how coaches encourage their athletes to warm up.
1) What is your general warmup routine behind the curtain or in the bullpen before you walk out for a superfight or tournament match?
2) Is there a difference in the process between the two?
Multiple time Light-Featherweight World No-Gi Champion Mayssa Bastos answered:
“I usually stretch a little bit then flow roll to get a sweat going. I don’t want to go into the first match with my body cold. Nothing specific and usually not a circuit. Kind of what feels right in the moment to get me ready to compete.”
Multiple time ADCC American Trials winner, world champion coach, and now best-selling writer Tom Deblass weighed in saying:
“So me? I don’t – I should probably warm up better. Personally, I just get loose, do some squats. I was never big on warmup and that’s actually bad. But for my students I have them do more of a circuit style warmup in one minute intervals with a minute of rest at the end. After the break I have them do another round.
• Quick feet
• Hand fighting
• Movement drills
• Reaction and timing drills
That’s the same whether it be superfights or tournaments. But once you do a match in the tournament depending on how far the matches are apart you have to re-warmup again but it can be much lighter of a warm up. So instead of another 3-4 rounds of a warmup you reduce it because you already did a big warm up, competed, and can do a shorter warmup before you go to your second match. This helps you stay warm when there is a lot of time between the first and second matches like there will be in the ADCC trials. But if the next match is directly after – like if it’s 5 minutes between rounds – then obviously you won’t warmup.”
Legendary coach and 6th degree black belt Luis Heredia responded:
“1) After years on [the] completion level, I’ve learned that the routines do change for every event or for every fight, my recommendation comes way before that with preparing for it some like classic music, other rap or etc… But when I am there with them I will impose more quietness , perhaps some small agility drills, light stuff , I also work on their balance and base too.
2) I don’t think so, like I have mentioned on the question above that kind [of] light routine on agility, balancing and breathing it works for any style on my opinion!”
Multiple time Pan-Pacific Champion, ADCC Bronze Medalist, and Physiotherapy PHD Lachlan Giles answered with:
“I tend to warm up in class with light technical training or light rolling. For a competition its not too different, I get a partner and just try to get a feel for grips etc. U don’t do so much of a traditional warm up with running etc, although if im stuck in the bullpen and don’t have a partner to work with I will often just do small movements (jogging on the spot, 1/4 squats, grips et).”
“The Bolo Bros” Danny Maira and Nick Salles replied respectively with:
“General warm up is normally a lot of stretching and mobility work to prepare my body and make sure I’m loose.
If I can do a few drills to feel the grips and what not I do that as well but nothing crazy. I visualize a lot and then just try to be in the moment and have fun. Always reminding myself of why I compete and how there’s more important things in life so just give it everything and have fun.”
“So when warming up for a super fight, I generally like to break a good sweat and stay super active before my match. This involves light rolling and drills so that my muscles are ready to fire when the time comes. I also like to recreate the feeling of being a couple rounds in during training- the rounds where I feel my best and because a superfight is only one match, we can implement our technique without factoring ways to conserve energy. In a bracketed event, I like to spend more energy in my mental fortitude and strategies. This is another variable- superfights tend to be sub-only where tournaments can be point-based. Of course, I’ll make sure to get a good stretch in as well as get a sweat going, but the process is a lot more mild in comparison to the other. We have to be mentally prepared to persevere and win on strategy if needed but also feel focused and energized in order to be at our best- especially when we are competing in a depleted state such as when we cut weight for tournaments.”
As you can see, everyone has a slightly different approach regarding how they warm up for a superfight or tournament but there are plenty of similarities to point to as well. One thing is for certain, warming up is absolutely vital not just for improving your performance but also for preventing injury.