I Can’t Breathe, Give Me A Minute!

It’s hard to believe , does it really take alot to play Jiu Jitsu without having to breathe right? Well it’s difficult to imagine running without being able to breathe correctly, in fact it’s a whole different ball game but within the same kind of limits! Strange isn’t it?

Well for starters in Jiu Jitsu you wear a heavy jacket that already feels like it weighs you down, then add to that the heavy , denim like gi pants! Clearly most people would have a panic attack if being mounted and or triangle choked, given the circumstances. But on the flipside , given the history of Brazilian Jiu JitsuĀ  the more miserable your training is, the easier the match will be.

It’s a strange relationship really. More often than not the way you breathe , the way you maintain your rhythm can help you out more than the submission you try and execute. What good is applying a rear naked choke if you cannot breathe right and have no strength to clamp your arms together?

Here’s the idea behind maintaining your rhythm of breathing when grappling. New grapplers just starting out will naturally lose their breath within the first few minutes of ” rolling ” because the movements and defense/offense are new to them, and their lung capacity may be small, that’s to be expected. But over the course of months/years of training you become more efficent with breathing to the point where you exert almost no energy trying to accomplish a task. This comes naturally since the body becoming more efficient ( and not to mention gaining muscle and losing weight, but that will be another article written in the future ) , will also adapt to have more efficient breathing, through repetition.

What one must understand is that playing the Jiu Jitsu game is a neverending process, a journey , a lifestyle. Preperation comes from everything outside of Jiu Jitsu and having good cardio is only one aspect. Only a handful of Jiu Jitsu players can have the ability to walk onto the mat and quickly gain an advantage at the begining. More often than not the credit would have to be cardio. Cardio is the most important factor in Jiu Jitsu because 1) even if the player has limited experience in Jiu Jitsu, his/her cardio can play a major factor in compensating for lack of technique. 2) Cardio can assist in wearing out your opponent who might not otherwise be able to continue even if he/she has good technique.

Now there is no subsitute for good technique, practice, drill , and learn. But one must also take into account being able to push the pace, to work on taking the back and maintaining control. Because the general rule of thumb in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is position before submission. Maintaining control then applying the choke or submission. Weight control and balance also come into play but again that will be addressed in another article. But for the sake of argument we will stick to cardio and breathing.

Breathing exercises can be done through meditation, through running, through any other cardiovascular sport, or simply through more Jiu Jitsu. The old saying goes ” if you want to be good at something, do more of it ” . The more you do something , naturally the better you get . If you find yourself on a cardio plateau, take a step back and reanalyze why you are stuck and how you can improve. Take notes on what you are doing wrong and what is not working and address theses issues. Don’t feel frusterated as it takes time to establish good breathing. Just keep at it and in no time you will be rolling longer than you expect.


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