There are some essential BJJ gross motor movements that need to be trained over and over until they’re smooth and instinctive.
Most of the time we train these transitions on our training partners, either in drilling or as part of sparring.
But some of the most important movements can actually be trained on your own – before class, after class, or at home – using a heavy punching bag.
Here are 9 of my favorite BJJ solo drills that you can do with a heavy bag…
1, The Kneemount Spin
The kneemount (or knee on belly) puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your opponent, but it’s NOT a static position; to use this position correctly you need to continually adapt to your opponent’s movements so that you stay on top and keep him from slithering out from under you.
In this video I’ll show you how to perfect your kneemount spin, which is one of the key movements for maintaining top position in the kneemount…
2, The Low Spin
The low spin is a way to get behind your opponent when he’s turning into you. If you do it right it almost seems like teleportation: one moment he’s on the bottom of side control, pushing you with his arms, trying to get his legs into play and then – BOOM – you’re behind all him, all his defenses are pointing the wrong way, and you’re ready to take his back or set up some wicked attacks.
The low spin is a signature move of high ranking BJJ players. The more you watch blackbelts move around their opponents the more you see this movement.
Here’s how to perfect the low spin on a heavy bag so it becomes smooth and instinctive…
3, The Two Step Guard Pass Drill
When you’re standing up to pass someone’s guard there are some very specific leg and footwork patterns that show up again and again.
One of these patterns is a two step movement where you go from in front of your opponent to controlling him with knee on belly (or kneemount).
If you’re moving to your left (and your opponent’s right) then this method of passing requires that you move your right foot first and then your left foot. This is counter-intuitive for most people, so it’s worth putting in the reps to carve it into your brain.
Here’s a drill to help you with the two step movement and then how you might apply it in using the torreando guard pass…
4, Sidemount and S Mount Attack Drill
The sidemount is a great but the S mount is even more dominant!
The S mount puts a TON of pressure on your opponent and if he screws up even for a second you’re going to armlock the crap out of him!
Here’s a drill to improve your S mount transitions I learned from Erik Paulson that can be done on the heavy bag, along with the application of the movement on my friend and BJJ black belt Ritchie Yip…
5, Kick Pass Drill
I learned the ‘kick pass’ from my friend Emily Kwok.
To use this pass you basically force yourself into into a loose half guard and then use a backward swinging kick (kind of like the leg action in the judo throw Uchi Mata) to clear his leg entanglement which then allows you to pass directly to kneemount or sidemount.
Here’s a video showing how to drill the kickpass on a heavy bag by yourself, and then how you would apply it against an opponent…
6, Headmount Spin Drill
The ‘Headmount’ is a position I use to pin my opponent when my hips are off the ground, my chest is far away from his, and I’m circling trying to find a better angle to control him.
It’s an unusual position that will make more sense after you watch this video drill and explanation…
7, The Hip Shovel Drill
The hip shovel is the opposite movement of the classic ‘hip escape’ or ‘shrimping’ movement.
In shrimping you typically move your hips away from an opponent, but in the hip shovel you move your hips towards and under your opponent.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the hip shovel movement plus how to train it on your own using a heavy bag…
8, Berimbolo Entry Drill
The berimbolo is one of the coolest techniques in the modern jiu-jitsu arsenal.
It’s an attack from the guard that looks a little bit like a sweep, but instead of moving you from the bottom to the top where you then have to battle past your opponent’s guard it allows you to go underneath his legs and teleport directly to his back (click here for a breakdown of the berimbolo).
The hardest part of the berimbolo for most people is often hitting the initial inversion – namely getting upside down under one of your opponent’s legs.
This drill with a heavy bag and a belt allows you to drill that inversion alone and in the privacy of your own home…
9, Squeeze Development Drills
There’s a lot of isometric squeezing in BJJ as we try to stop our opponent from getting away from us.
We squeeze and hold with our arms and with our legs in the rear mount… in the rear bearhug… in side mount … in closed guard… in the triangle choke… in the rear naked choke… and so on.
In this video I’ll show you 5 ways to improve your squeeze (four using the heavy bag and one involving choking the crap out of your own leg)…
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