As I write this most clubs, dojos and training groups all over the world have shut down for a very noble cause; to flatten the coronavirus curve
By shutting things down we’re slowing (not stopping) community transmission of this virus, which in turn prevents the medical system from being overrun all at once and allows the system to manufacture and stockpile masks and other personal protective equipment.
Flattening the curve also buys time for the hundreds of thousands of scientists working on this to find ways to stop transmission, develop treatments and cures, and create vaccines or other preventative measures.
Coming from a science background I’m very hopeful that this worldwide Manhattan Project will yield results. I’m following the science on the pre-print servers (which share studies that haven’t been peer reviewed and published yet), and am reassured by the unprecedented speed at which the new information is being shared and disseminated
We’ll get a handle on this virus, and hopefully we’ll get back to training in one form or another soon!
In the meantime I thought I’d share 5 ideas for training during lockdown. There’s a bit of a BJJ bias here, but really these ideas apply to any martial artist, be they grapplers, strikers or weapon specialists…
Table of Contents
5 Tips for Training in Video Form
Here’s a video I shot with my top 5 ideas to not turn into a fat slug during lockdown…
5 Tips for Training in Streaming Audio Form
I also put these tips onto my podcast (The Strenuous Life Podcast) as episode 265. You can stream the audio from this episode here…
5 Tips for Training on the Free Grapplearts BJJ Master App
This podcast is also available on the Grapplearts BJJ Master App (which also comes with over 700 minutes of free black belt instruction). And did I mention that this app is FREE to download?
Click Below to Download the Grapplearts BJJ Master App for Free Now
You can also listen to every episode of The Strenuous Life Podcast (including this one) on the podcast player that you already have on your phone!
For example, if you have an iPhone then it’s the purple app with the antenna-like thing in it; just click the Apple Podcasts link below to go to the right place and hit ‘subscribe’.
Here are the links to find the podcast on various players – today’s show e is episode 265…
- Apple Podcasts (the purple app on your iPhone)
- Google Podcasts (the new google podcast app)
- Spotify (it’s free)
- Google Play
Quick Summary of the 5 Tips
Let’s quickly recap these ideas of what you can do to not fall too far behind in your training during this unusual and difficult time…
1, Solo Drills and Grappling Dummies
Although I believe it is the least useful of the 5 strategies I mentioned in the talk above there is still some utility in continuing to train some basic BJJ movements.
At the very least it will keep your head in the game and give you the sense that you’re not losing all your skills.
Here’s a playlist of some heavy bag solo drills that you could even practice on a sufficiently solid cushion…
And here are a bunch of solo drills you can do to improve your flexibility, coordination, and your ability to hit inversions in sparring…
And now grappling dummies…
I wish they worked for most people, but they are expensive in my experience 80 to 90% of people end up never using their dummy after the first couple of weeks. (I do have to admit that this may be different now that we’re al locked down thanks to Covid).
2, Strength and Conditioning
Staying in shape during lockdown (or any period when you’re not able to train) is really important. It’s so much harder to get back on the mats if you’ve lost all your fitness.
At it’s most simplistic there are two main components to fitness: strength and endurance.
There are ways that you can develop strength and endurance at the same time, including circuit training, crossfit style workouts, and BJJ sparring itself.
But if you’re new to the whole fitness thing I think it’s simplest if you have different sessions devoted to a) getting stronger and b) improving your endurnace.
To find out more either read On Starting a Conditioning Program for BJJ and Submission Grappling, or watch the video below…
I’ve long been an advocate of doing lots of cardio to develop high levels of endurance for BJJ. So I’ve written and talked a LOT about it.
Here are some links to get you started…
- Cardio for the Martial Arts (4 min read)
- 7 Reasons Martial Artists Should Do Cardio (3 min read)
- My Default Cardio Workout (1 min read)
3, Stretching and Flexibility
Flexibility is important in almost all martial arts. Whether you’re trying to kick someone in the head, stop someone from passing your guard, or briefly invert to finish a leg lock submission, the ability to put your body and limbs where you want them to be is critical.
Plus being more flexible usually means less injuries too…
There are tons of resources online to help you stretch and become more flexible. Here’s one such segment from my Yoga for Martial Arts instructional I put out a few years ago…
4, Studying Matches and Instructionals
If you can’t actually learn by training you can still learn by watching.
Many people find studying competition matches to be extremely useful.
By carefully dissecting the moves of your favourite competitor you learn the little details that he or she uses to set up the moves, to finish techniques, and to counter attacks by their opponents.
So pick 3 of your favorite matches ever and watch them each 3 times in a row. Go through the video frame by frame in the critical places. Try to figure out the reason for each little weight shift, grip exchange, and fake attack. I guarantee you’ll learn something while doing this.
The other way to increase your knowledge is by watching actual instructionals.
No matter what area of jiu-jitsu you’re interested in there’s almost certainly someone who has done a deep dive into that area and filmed a DVD, online instructional, app-based instructional or youtube series about it.
(You do need to be careful with Youtube instructionals because there’s such a low barrier to entry that literally anyone can film an instructional, but if you have enough experience you can probably separate the wheat from the chaff quite easily.)
My own favourite way to internalise a good instructional is to make notes and flowcharts from it. Maybe your process is different, but having someone break down one of the strongest aspects of their game for you is always a good thing.
There are obviously instructionals all over place but to get you started I’ll point you in the direction of my youtube channel, the Grapplearts BJJ Master App, and my line of online streaming and DVD based instructionals (50% off right now with the coupon code ‘United’).
5, Not Getting Fat
It may be politically incorrect and insensitive, but it’s critical to not get fat and out of shape during your hiatus from jiu-jitsu.
The problem is that many people find that training is a HUGE mood booster. And if they can’t train they start feeling down. And when they start feeling down they start stuffing their face with unhealthy food and pounding the beers and soft drinks.
If you’re vulnerable to this dynamic then you have to recognise it and get it under control right away.
Not only does obesity and high blood sugar put you at a significantly larger risk of dying from coronavirus, but if you get fat then it’ll be much harder to return to effective training once this is all over.
Plus, as I’ve argued before, if martial arts is about self defense and not dying then training has to include a health and nutrition component. There’s no sense in being a trained killer carrying 2 concealed handguns, three knives, and knowing 7 ways to break a man’s wrist if the biggest danger to your life is dying of a stroke or heart attack.
So keep the diet under control, now more than ever!
Good luck folks,
Did you know that I have an entire instructional dedicated to techniques, tricks and tactics to stop your opponent from passing your guard?
In The Guard Retention Formula, one of the newest instructionals from Grapplearts, Rory Van Vliet and I show you how to systematically shut down and counter all the most powerful and most popular guard passes your opponents will use to try and pass your guard.
The Guard Retention Formula is available in DVD, online streaming and mobile app format.
Check it out because it could absolutely change your game for the better!
Also if you’re struggling with how to build a coherent gameplan in BJJ you may find The Strenuous Life Podcast episode on BJJ Game Plan Development to be helpful.