More mat-time will always be the simplest answer to improving your Jiu-Jitsu skill but what happens when you can’t make it to training any more than you currently do, how do you improve outside of the gym? There are a number of ways to make the most of your free time and develop your grappling without having to increase the number of sessions you attend, some more valuable than others. Maybe you work a shift-pattern that clashes with the rest of your gym’s training schedule, or maybe you train at a smaller gym that only has a certain number of classes to begin with. Whatever the case may be, here are the best ways to improve your Jiu-Jitsu outside of simply increasing your time spent training:
This is probably the most commonly used method of developing grappling skills outside of the gym, and for good reason. The advent of the internet has allowed BJJ practitioners to have an unprecedented access to high-level instruction, and for a pretty low cost. There’s a phenomenal number of instructionals out there available to purchase and they cover every possible aspect of grappling imaginable, meaning there’s a never-ending learning opportunity available here. For those on a budget, getting a properly organized instructional can be difficult, but still not impossible. There’s hundreds of hours of content available for free on YouTube and other platforms if you’re willing to dig through it and organize it in your own time.
Watching High-Level Matches
The ADCC world championships have been contested since 1998 and the IBJJF world championships since 1996. At present there are over two decades worth of footage of the best grapplers on the planet battling it out for the highest honors and every single one of those matches can provide an important lesson. Watching them allows someone to see which techniques work at the highest levels of the sport and what options branch off failed attacks. Much like watching instructionals, this can’t be done passively if you want it to have a significant effect and it’s something that you need to really pay attention to in order to start introducing the techinques you see into your own game.
Lifting weights has one obvious benefit that can never be overlooked when it comes to any physical sport, developing strength. The idea that technique beats strength is only really true when strength doesn’t have any technique and when it comes to competition between two similarly-experienced grapplers, strength can often be the deciding factor. Aside from this, weightlifting also acts as a protection against injury because strengthening the muscles that support your joints can help prevent them from being hyper-extended or rotated to the point of damage. In order for this to be a positive impact, it’s important to do proper research on the correct form for any exercise you do in order to have maximal benefit and minimize any risk of injury.
While going to yoga classes can often be just as time-restrictive as Jiu-Jitsu classes, it’s a solo activity that can actually be performed in the comfort of your own home to almost as much effect. As with anything, having an instructor to correct imperfect technique is clearly going to help but so long as you make a conscious effort to monitor the errors you make while paying attention to video footage, yoga can be immensely helpful. Not only will it help improve your flexibility and balance, two massively underappreciated physical attributes in Jiu-Jitsu, but it also has a similar effect to weightlifting in that it helps protect your body against injuries that might be sustained in training.
One of the most common complaints for new starters in Jiu-Jitsu is that they struggle to last through every round of sparring at the end of the session. Of course, a lot of this is just down to poor energy management and bad technique but improving your cardio still doesn’t hurt. As you start to progress through the belt ranks and matches can be as long as 10 or 15 minutes, the ability to push the pace for the full length of time can be absolutely invaluable. There’s several different forms of cardio available for BJJ competitors, some of which translate to grappling better than others but the majority of which are completely free and non time-restrictive.
Every one of these options provides some benefit to those looking to improve their Jiu-Jitsu outside of training, but none of them can be practiced without it altogether. No matter how much effort you put into watching instructionals or high-level matches, you simply can’t get better at Jiu-Jitsu unless you step on the mats on a regular basis.