Stay Relaxed to Improve your Training

By Alec Baulding

The quickest way to improve your Jiu Jitsu doesn’t involve any secret techniques, crazy workouts, or supplements. A lot of students at all belt levels, but predominantly at the lower ranks, are constantly tense while training. There will be points in your training or a match when you will need to be tense like when defending a takedown or going for a submission. However, following those moments of tension, you need to be able to immediately relax and let your body recover. When you stay tense your body is working double time. It’s recruiting stamina and strength to complete a task. But, if you over use it, it will start to harm you. If you’re doing a 5-minute roll and you try to go as hard as you can at full intensity, you might last for 30-45 seconds before completely gassing out. It doesn’t matter if you’re a black belt world champion or a new student starting out. We can only operate at maximum intensity for a few seconds at best. The difference between high level competitors and everyone else is that they know when to push the intensity and when to slow down and recover. A lot of students believe that slowing down in some ways is a form of giving up or not giving your best. But it’s essential to rolling at a higher level. Conserve your energy for passing, sweeping, and attacking with submissions. Relax and recover when you get to a dominant position like mount, side mount, or the back. If you’re on bottom, find a guard position in which you can slow down your opponent and that will be your resting spot. So many students spend their entire rolling time pushing the pace. They figure that in order to get better, they need to get stronger or get faster. Of course, being stronger and faster helps. But it’s often when you’re moving too fast or using too much strength that you will make more mistakes and leave more openings for your opponent. That’s why it’s important to slow down and not be so tense. It’s going to allow you to be more focused, and ready to capitalize on those opportunities when they arise during training. It’s like taking a math test. You can rush through the test as fast as possible and maybe you finish before everyone else. However, I can assure you that you will make a lot less errors if you take your time going over each problem and take the time to check all of your answers before turning in your test. The same concept applies to Jiu Jitsu, especially for newer students. This also goes for when you’re practicing a technique. Many lower belts will rush through a technique while practicing it, missing many important details along the way. If you can perform a technique slowly, hitting all the details, there will be no problem when you add more speed. The same thing goes for using too much power. If your technique relies on you always being stronger than the other guy then it’s not a very good technique. So slow down a little, relax, and try not to be so tense while rolling.