How Do You Train Your Stand Up Game?

By Joshua Rozenboom

There are a lot of dimensions to training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is a sea of information to learn that is overwhelming for new students, and even those with grappling experience. Perhaps the scariest part to the uninitiated is the standing part of Jiu Jitsu. Many people come into Jiu Jitsu with a wrestling or judo background, and have an easier time with standup. Some people, however, come into the gym with zero standup experience, and eventually are faced with a tournament or takedown class in which they feel completely lost.

So, why don’t we train more standup? And why is it so scary to the newcomer? Well, the general assumption is that teaching people to execute throws and takedowns is a good way to get hurt. Another problem is that standing up in Jiu Jitsu is an entirely different dimension of the art, and people could easily spend just as much time learning standup as they do learning the ground. But the ground is what we came for, right? Here are a few reasons why you should work on your standup:

Every fight starts on the feet

Think about it. Every fight starts standing. As far as self-defense is concerned, learning how to manage distance, read an opponent and act instinctively could be a life-saving effort. And sure, most of us aren’t out brawling in the streets, but we do compete… and competitions always start standing. And guard pulling counts! You have to practice pulling guard, and you have to practice reacting to someone who pulls guard, but either way you both start on the feet.

You are taking away your opponent’s advantage

This is competition specific: if you are new to grappling and you start competing regularly, the odds are very high that your opponent at any given time has some experience with takedowns or throws. It is going to be hard to overcome the mental block of “this guy was a wrestler and I can’t hang”, but if you get used to standing up and consistently practice a few basics, you will find that those first few seconds of a match get easier.

You are attacking your own fear

A very large percentage of competitors experience fear and nervous anxiety at the beginning of a match. The body’s neurological responses are firing at light speed to prepare for what it about to happen. You can A) sit and wait for the blast double that you know is coming; or B) decide on a course of action, and go for it. Option B requires a lot of practice, but here’s the thing: you don’t have to always be GOOD. You just have to commit. Drilling standup over and over makes it less scary, and makes you comfortable with setting up grips or a shot, whether or not you have mastered the nuances of what’s to come next.

NOBODY ELSE IS DOING IT!

The best part about regular takedown practice is that NOT EVERYONE IS PRACTING TAKEDOWNS. It is far and away the least covered aspect of Jiu Jitsu. More people are familiar with the intricacies of single-leg X-guard than they are the much more practical art of getting the fight to the ground. Standup is exhausting, and not sustainable, and most people aren’t very good at it. So, if you are in a position to include standup training as part of your game, do the hard thing and it will pay off.

And as always: be careful, don’t hurt your training partners, and keep it fun! How do you like to train the standup grappling game? Let us know in the comments!