Jiu Jitsu athletes do so much more than just roll around on a mat. Their sport is an ancient form of art that applies skill, concentration, perseverance, and intelligence. These factors allow you to outwit and take down your opponent. This martial art not only takes a great deal of mental strength but it also requires physical strength and mobility. Let’s break down what jiu jitsu is, why mobility is so important to its practitioners, and offer a jiu jitsu mobility warm up that takes you from head to toe!
What is Jiu Jitsu?
Jiu Jitsu is a form of martial arts that teaches you self defense and is used in close combat (meaning hand to hand fighting). There are 2 main styles and it is common they are confused or crossed in reference. The origin of this sport can be traced back to Japan. The Japanese used this martial art for their samurai when they had been unmounted from their horses in battle. In the sport you see today, you’ll see throwing, striking, choking, blocking, and joint manipulations. The other and in today’s world, debatably more popular, form is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). This form of jiu jitsu is also all about self defense but focuses on grappling and ground fighting. You will still see different kinds of locks, holds, and chokes during a match.
Why is Mobility Important?
If you’ve never seen the sport I hope you can get a visual from the description above. As a competitor you’re trying to take down your opponent by trapping them with your legs, arms, basically however you can. When the person you’re fighting with gets put in a position where it feels like they’re about to snap they have the ability to “tap” out. We call this a submission. That way you don’t go to extremes of actually hurting yourself or your opponent. Joint mobility in jiu jitsu is important because it lessens your chance of injury and you are more likely to escape your opponents clutches. Especially when you’re in a bind (pun intended). Better joint range of motion means you’re less likely to submit yourself.
So which parts of your body are most important for jiu jitsu mobility? I’d say that is a trick question. I’ve only watched this sport but I can say that it looks like a form of gymnastics and fighting. You need to be fast, limber, sly, and strong. There are no parts of your body that aren’t involved. That is why Dr. John created a 10 minute full body jiu jitsu mobility routine to do before your next match.
Jiu Jitsu Mobility Exercises
Normal posture for this type of athlete is rounded forward. You need to make sure you’re balancing yourself out by stretching the opposing directions. Dr. John has been working with Rene Sousa, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete for a few years now. This 10 minute mobility routine has 7 exercises that goes from your head all the way to your toes!
This exercise opens up the pec and front of the shoulder. It also improves function and movement of the shoulder blade.
It’s no wonder this is called a Brettzel when you look so much like a pretzel! This all in 1 twist gets your hips, low back, thoracic spine, and shoulders. Hold for 30 sec/side.
Start really opening up your back and shoulders with this rotational exercise. This is great for unlocking the spine. Do 10 reps each side!
As we begin working our way to the hips, the 2.0 version of the Brettzel stretches your hip flexor and quad. Hold each side for 30 secs.
Stretch your groin, and front of the hip with windshield wipers. This exercise is a small movement that gets deep into the hip. Try to keep your glutes on the floor! Move back and forth for 1-2 mins.
Target your hamstring and calf with this stretch. It’s very important not to hold! Move in and out dynamically for best results. Do this for 30 sec/side.
Your ankles need just as much mobility as the rest of your body. Keep your arms to the inside of your leg as you move your knee over your toes and in small circles. Hold your heel down to make sure you’re getting the best stretch! Do this for 1 min/foot.
Check out the Full Jiu Jitsu Mobility Video featuring Rene Sousa and Dr. John here!
Jiu jitsu is a fun and all inclusive sport. It’s never too late to start! Just make sure you’re warming up properly and tap often. If you’re already a pro but are worried about joint health, check out last weeks blog all about if it pops, should you stop?
We released episode one of our new video podcast on YouTube called Table Time! If you want to find out more about Rene and is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey check him out here!