How To Improve Agility In BJJ With Ground Based Movements
Agility has been a very spoken about topic in recent years, as well as the methods used to train and test it. Often people get confused between change of direction ability and agility. While the two characteristics are related, there is one main mechanism which sets them apart. Agility is the ability to efficiently and rapidly change direction or speed in response to a stimulus. Whereas change of direction is the closed portion of the skill and involves pre-planned movement. Now that the definition of agility has been illustrated, let’s move onto its place in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). BJJ is a mixed martial arts sport involving wrestling and manoeuvring your opponent to try and earn points from different positions or ultimately earning a submission. This is all being done while trying to avoid your opponent doing the same thing to you. If you are in a less dominant position (e.g. on your back), you need to be able to defend your opponent from scoring point or getting you in a lock. Same goes for an attacker, if you find yourself in an attacking position you need to be able to take advantage and either score as many points as possible or get them in a hold. From this description, it is clear to see there is a very open and reactive element to the sport, and it seems success is just as largely dependent on reactiveness as it is strength. In this article we will talk about how to improve agility in BJJ with ground based movements.
To become more agile for sports performance, in my opinion, there are 2 important things you need to do:
- Create efficient and effective movement patterns
Movement patters form the basis of human movement and vary across different sports. The efficiency of these movements can largely influence an individual’s success in a sporting environment. The reason being, that movement in sport is needed to be performed as quickly as possible whilst using as little energy as possible. Let’s look at running as a basic example as everyone knows how to run. If you are running in a straight line and you swing your arms in such a way that your arms come across the body, this creates an energy leak and is less efficient than if your arms are going straight forwards and backwards. Therefore, there will be a breakdown in the movement pattern. This is the same for BJJ as well. If you understand exactly how a thrust is performed to evade a hold and can save more energy than your opponent, this will enhance your chances at winning. Before working on reactiveness and open skill work slow down movement patterns and get used to performing them slowly and in control with perfect technique. If you can’t do a movement or skill slowly, how do you ever expect to do it at speed?
- Increase the speed or reactivity of the movements.
The reactive element of agility, involves the training of open skills with a reactive element to enhance performance situations. It involves putting the perfected movement patterns into an open and reactive environment and try to maintain efficiency and be better than your opponent. Agility is a skill, and just like any other needs to be practised. Be creative and create game specific situations that require cognitive reaction and processing to try and create an automated process for when put into competition. It should be a systematic progression. Just as every other skill, try not to overload an individual’s cognitive thought processes too quickly.
These are 2 simple additions to a BJJ programme that will make big differences to competition. It is important to keep things interesting for your athletes and as a coach I find agility work to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable skills to both take part in and coach.
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