Jiu Jitsu has long held a trump card within the realm of martial arts, as you can spar HARD – day in, day out – and not worry about any long-term concussive damage. The temptation to train at 100mph in every class is always present, but there are many benefits to be had from going down through the gears and shifting your focus. The big question: when should we ‘flow’ and when should we ‘go’?
Hitting the Sweet Spot
Let’s assume you’re a committed student, who’s on the mats four times per week. Within these four sessions, we’d suggest that two should include intense sparring; focussed around pushing your physical limits and making sure you’re left exhausted – these are your ‘rep to failure’ sessions. Try and organise your schedule so that these sessions sit at opposite ends of the week to allow for recovery.
These bouts of hard sparring are what traditional jiu jitsu academies in Brazil were built on, with far less emphasis placed on the actual teaching of positions during a class; students would simply turn up and train. Hard sparring has to be a stable within your jiu jitsu diet.
Of the two remaining sessions in your weekly calendar, we’d suggest a more ‘moderate’ approach to sparring. By moderate we mean respecting the fact that your body could be tired from a recent intense session. Try to ease off the gas slightly, open up your game that little bit more liberally and, essentially, be ‘sensible’ with your decision making on the mat.
Choose your partners wisely
You don’t want to become too selective about who you roll with, but choosing your training partners is important. There’s nothing wrong with trying to achieve your session goals by picking the best training partners to fit the bill. If you’re on an intense training day, try to pick our partners you know will give you challenging rolls. If you’re feeling a little beaten-up and it’s approaching the end of the week, perhaps train a little more sensibly and mix in a few rounds with students of less jiu jitsu proficiency.
They want to ‘go’, I want to ‘flow’
Perhaps the most challenging thing about sparring can be dealing with those situations when you and your partner are coming from completely opposite ends of the spectrum – they want to take your head off, while you’re content coasting through the round. The solution is actually quite simple: curb your ego. If you really don’t want to train HARD, then simply don’t; instead, ease of your intensity and focus on your defensive work. Your partner will either continue as they were, or often realise you’re not going 100%, making them adjust their own mentality within the roll.
As suggested at the beginning, you will ALWAYS need to focus much of your training around hard sparring. However, there is nothing wrong with embracing the fact that, sometimes, you will be comfier dropping the intensity a little in order to preserve your body and mind. Trust us, it’s worth it!