By Elisabeth Clay
While I am not the biggest fan of watching wrestling, I do believe there are things they do and a mindset they have that is very beneficial to competitive BJJ. If you keep up with my other blog posts, then you already know how I believe having a well-rounded game is important. There cannot be anyone part of the game you are afraid of or hesitant about or it will negatively affect the best parts of your game.
This is why I believe wrestling training can be good for your jiu Jitsu game.
Wrestling is good for the mindset; you can become very complacent when things aren’t easy in BJJ, whereas in wrestling you fight and grind everything out. It is good to bring that grinding, pushing mindset back into BJJ. There have been matches I won that I attribute to this mindset despite my opponent being someone who was supposed to be way higher in belt rank and had many more years’ experience, not to mention being very much favored to win. If you are going to do something, bring everything you have to the table. That is one of the things that wrestling does for the BJJ practitioner. Never let your mind tell you that you cannot do something. When it seems you are outdone, dig in and give all you have to give. Do not rest a second, do not hesitate, just do it with all you have.
Standup is extremely important to have and be comfortable with, even if we don’t use it. It lets us fully practice BJJ when we aren’t scared of standing up. The knowledge that no matter where you are on your feet, your butt, your back, inverted, wherever you are in this game, you are not only comfortable, but proficient. As for stand up, it’s good to know judo throws and wrestling takedowns and to be able to glide between them with ease, even if it is only to be able to defend them. This ability to smoothly transition between standing, sitting and all else in between allows you to not only have a physical, but a mental advantage. You will not be afraid.
Wrestling is much more dynamic by nature than BJJ is. BJJ can, depending on the persons game, be very dynamic, but the wrestling dynamic is really good for a BJJ athlete’s game. It can bring that dynamic aspect to their game out. If you watch BJJ matches, especially at the higher levels, you will see those who play a very almost still game, calculating each move and planning points. You will also see those who do the same but wait for submission opportunities, then you will see the athletes that jump into things almost with reckless calculation. Lastly you have those who get in positions for strength and moves with the swiftness of an animal hunting its prey. This is the type of dynamic motions that I believe are the most important movements in BJJ competition.
Cardio & Stamina
Wrestling is amazing for cardio, and when BJJ can start to fail it’s a nice way to switch it up. Never let your training or you competition go static. This changeup of types and intensity of training allows you to build the cardio gas tank up to sustain you through whatever in competition. I was told in the beginning two different schools of thought for competition energy. One was to calculate your energy amount and weigh it against the amount and types of opponents you have. The other school of thought was that if you do not make it through the match you are in the others do not matter. I prescribe to the second school of thought. Never conserve for later; put your all into every single second of every single match. To be able to do this you must train the exact same way. Always push every training match. If your matches are eight minutes, train 10 minutes and so on. Change your routine, do the wrestling, it is a high paced and high intensity training. On top of that, do not take breaks, my experience with wrestling has been no breaks. Bring that into your jiu jitsu.
The entire idea is to become your lion or lioness. Think about hunting and intensity. You must be strong to keep the pace you want on the BJJ mats. If you add the intense wrestling into your training, I am certain you will not be sorry in the long run, even if you are in the hours after the workout.