breath, breath, BRIDGE!!

One of the things I talk about in my Beginning BJJ online Course is the importance of not telegraphing your moves, particularly your explosive escapes, by holding your breath.

Now this lesson led to many interesting conversations, including one with Mr. Will Wood, who trains with Garrett Erickson.

Here’s what Will said:

“Something I find common is guys bridge and start their escape on the third big breath. One big breath, second big breath, third breath – BRIDGE!!!!!

I have gotten into the habit of slightly shifting my position after the second breath. In most cases their bridge escape could have worked but it breaks their concentration long enough to make them hesitate and restart.

Talk about burning some energy!

As a 41 year old little guy (5’7 and 165 lbs) I have to use the biggest muscle – the brain.”

Much as a ‘tell’ in poker gives other experienced players at the table an advantage, picking up on subtle clues like this can help you dominate larger and stronger opponents on the mat.

Getting good at BJJ requires you to become a bit of a mind-reader. There’s nothing mystical about it. You just have to consistently work at developing the sensitivity that allows you to notice, and then take advantage of, the subtle clues that your opponent is giving you all the time.

So first work on your subtlety and sensitivity.

Then once you’ve got subtlety mastered you can go full barbarian again.  Conan might advise you to use your newly refined attributes and “crush your enemies, see them driven before you…”




  1. Richard Craig says

    As a martial artist and strength coach the hardest technique to master is learning how and when to breathe. It is a simple concept that was learned from birth however as we grow older there are so many things that impact the way that we breathe. The basic concept is the diaphragm lengthens creating a negative space and the lungs fill with air. Chi is associated with the breath and the ability to “push chi” increasing the energy with a muscle is related to the ability to regulate the breath. The three general spaces abdominal, thoracic and cranial are all affected by the way in which we breathe. A simple exercise that helps develop the breath is stretching and weightlifting. In stretching you try to breathe through the stretch and weightlifting as the weight you lift becomes progressive heavier you have to learn to oxygenate the muscles with the correct exhalation and inhalation. The organs within the three spaces must be pressurized so that you do not create an unnatural squeeze. Power when generated by the martial artist is directly associated breath and the ability to push chi.

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