Are You Doing the Right Things Before and After BJJ?

What you do before matters, what you do after makes a difference.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: It’s Tuesday, you know you go to jiu jitsu on Tuesdays, but you go about your day without giving jiu jitsu a second thought. It’s after work and you’re at home engaged in some mundane task and all of a sudden – “crap, I gotta be to class in 30 minutes”. So, you grab your bag, hit the road and get to the gym with just enough time to suit up, line up, and start class.  After class, you rush home to finish up a work project, catch your favorite TV show, or engage in some other non-jiu jitsu related task. Been there? You’re not alone. But what if we treated jiu jitsu class like it was one of the most important appointments we had this week? What if we determined that, “I’m investing a good bit of time and money into this hobby, I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to get the most from my investment”? I propose that there are a few simple things we can do before class and after class to maximize the benefits we get from each training session.

Here’s a few things you might consider doing before training to get the most out of each class. This is not meant to be an authoritative or all-inclusive list…. just some ideas that might be helpful.

  1. Ensure that you are well hydrated considering the water you will lose due to perspiration. This is first because ideally you will drink a little more water throughout the day. Drinking two additional 16 oz. bottles of water in the last hour before class will only result in a full stomach and a full bladder. If you are routinely adequately hydrated simply consider adding an additional 16 oz. bottle during the day.
  2. In anticipation of the additional calories you will burn, make sure you have consumed an adequate amount of fuel. I’m not a nutritionist and won’t offer any specific dietary advice, but I can’t state strongly enough how important it is for each athlete to do their own research and come up with a plan that works for them. For me the most important aspect of this is timing: If I eat anything substantial within two hours of class I feel bloated and slow, on the other hand, if it’s been more than 5 or 6 hours between my last meal and a training session I feel like the gas tank hits empty midway through class. So, I try to eat a full, well rounded meal 6 hours or so before class and a light snack 3 to 4 hours later.
  3. Engage in some pre-class mental preparation. If you had an important work meeting where you were required to give a report and would be expected to participate in a round table discussion wouldn’t you review your notes for your report and make sure you knew something about the topics for the round table discussion? My instructor puts out a monthly training schedule—we know a month in advance what positions we will be working from in every class. I take 10-15 minutes late in the day to watch a few tutorial videos on whatever position we will be working that day. If you keep a training journal or take notes, 15 minutes before class would be a good time to review them.
  4. Get to the gym early enough to do something productive before class. This will look different for each athlete. I’m older and my joints don’t work as good as they used to. For me an extra 10-15 minutes of stretching makes all the difference in the world. If you’re a 25-year-old competitor, maybe you need some higher intensity warm ups to be ready for class. If nothing else…. grab a partner and rep some techniques.
  5. Establish a pre-class routine. If you do “A, B, and C” before every class, like eating at the same time, watching some tutorial videos, and taking the same route and listening to the same music on the way to class soon “A, B, and C” will become triggers that help get your mind right and focused for class. See Pavlovs Dogs

And here’s a few things you might want to consider doing just after class to maximize the benefits from each class and prepare you for the next.

  1. Take a few minutes to stretch and reflect after class. Lately I have been noticing that many of the top guys I train with find a quiet corner somewhere to spend 15 minutes after class stretching out. Knowing these guys like I do, they’re not just stretching….they’re analyzing their performance and making mental notes so their next class will be more productive.
  2. Get some help/advice from your coach or training partners. After class is a great time to ask your coach for clarification on something he taught that night or to grab one of your training partners and say “hey, you seemed to sweep me really easily from ½ guard, you mind showing me what you did?”.
  3. Document and journal what you did and what you learned. Journaling is not for everyone, but if you do it—the sooner after class the better.
  4. Fuel and rehydrate. You should drink plenty of water during and after class and if you cannot get home and eat something right away consider taking a recovery shake with you.
  5. Address any injuries or aches and pains. If you didn’t tap soon enough to an armbar or foot lock, getting the joint iced and elevated ASAP and taking some anti-inflammatory meds can be the difference between taking one day off or needing to miss 3-4 days.

You may be asking yourself how will making these changes to my pre and post training routine make a significant difference in my jiu jitsu game. The truth is, these types of changes can make a difference, but you won’t see the difference overnight. If you make improvements in your pre-training hydration and dietary practices you may find that you have enough energy to put an extra round of sparring in at the end of class—this won’t result in significant improvement over the course of a month or two…but over the course of a year, this will add up to hours and hours of additional sparring which will result in significant improvement. If you stretch and address aches and pains right after class you may find that you can make it to a few extra classes in a month and a few classes each month turns into 20-30 extra classes a year which will result in significant improvement. The key is: make incremental improvements, trust in the process, and be patient.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better at jiu jitsu

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Epi 10 Dealing with injuries

Join Gary and Byron on the BjjBrick Podcast

Join Gary and Byron on the BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radio

Just about everyone will need to deal with an injury from time to time this is a contact sport.  Today we talk about healing quicker, training with the injury and when to take some time off.  It is important to listen to your body, if it hurts it may be trying to tell you something.

Byron Jabara, Craig Cannady, Gary Hull

Byron Jabara, Craig Cannady, Gary Hull. Pic taken April 11, 2015

Craig talks about having problems healing due to cholesterol medicine.  Here is an article talking about the side effects of some cholesterol medicine.

Gary and Byron both share stores of dealing with rib injuries.  Gary recommends keep working out with something, even if it is not BJJ.  He takes salmon oil from supplement u.  Gary will use a foam roller to help get rid of neck, back, and muscle pain.

With some injuries like ribs or back, it will be painful to move so it will be too difficult to roll.

If you can’t train, you can study a select move or two intensely.  When you return to the mat, you will have some new stuff to work on.

We talk briefly about the need to have health insurance to help you financially if you get seriously injured.

Jiu-Jitsu does not really have an off-season, like many other sports do.  Most sports go months when people don’t train much.  In BJJ we just keep rolling, often this means that our bodies will not fully heal.

Injuries to people in their first year can convince the person that the sport is not for them.  If this happens to one of your training partners you should contact them and try to encourage them to get back on the mat once they are better.

It is important to help your injured teammates get back on the mat.

It is especially important to keep safety in mind when rolling with a new person.

A good way to prevent injuries is to leave your ego at the door and get rid of a negative attitude.

Quote of the week-“If man were to say something deep in woods and no woman was around to hear him, would he still be wrong?”

Article of the week- Tap out 101- Tips if you Starting BJJ Over Forty

The free don’t break the chain calendar just open it and print it!

Episode 9 an interview with a paramedic, what to do when someone gets hurt in class

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radio

Today we have a good friend Craig on the show.  Craig has been in the emergency medical field for over 32 years, he is a paramedic.  Craig has been training Jiu-Jitsu for approximately 8 years.  He shares some of his knowledge about dealing with injuries that might happen during class.  We cover a lot of stuff in this episode! You could find yourself needing to know this information on or off the mat.  This episode should help you make the right decisions after an injury happens.paramedic-uniform

Craig helps us learn about these topics:

How to determine if it is a serious injury and if you need to call for help

What happens to your body if certain bones are broken?

Tips on splinting an injured extremity, and when you are not going to be able to splint something

When you should not splint an injury

What to expect when an ambulance is called

Internal bleeding

What is an open fracture, and why you need to call an ambulance

Tips on minimizing pain after an injury

Tips on what should you do before the ambulance arrives

What you can do to help someone that could have a serious neck injury

A tip to help healing is the acronym R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevate)

How quickly do you need to get stitches?

Why chest pain is not to be ignored

Why abrasions are more likely to get infected than a cut

Signs of an infected scrape or cut, and the consequences

Why it is so important to have good hygiene and a clean gi?

How to help someone that get choked unconscious

Dealing with a concussion

Signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Tips for staying safe when you are training in a high heat environment



Some things that should be in a first aid kid at your gym- 4X4 bandages, band aids, a sling and swath, antiseptic gel, medical gloves, ice packs, aspirin, scissors, safety pins, and tape.



Quote of the week- “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela

Article of the weekA easy way to stay out of trouble in the guard By Stephan Kesting  Stephan gives some great tips for avoiding getting attacked if your posture temporarily gets broken.


Craig recommends as a great reference.

A guide to splinting injuries

How to immobilize someone’s injured neck

Ozz grappler soap

Absolutely free- Don’t break the chain calendar, just open it and hit print