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Transfer of training for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

In the following blog, I’m going to be drawing from my own experiences of training for BJJ, as well as my experience training BJJ athletes. The principles I’m going to explain will relate to almost any sport, however there will be a few elements which are more relevant to BJJ.

SAID Principle

The SAID principle, which stands for ‘specific adaptations for imposed demands’ is one of the most important principles when it comes to a S&C. The SAID principle implies that when the body is under any form of stress, it starts to make adaptations which will make it easier for the body to deal with that particular type of stress in the future.

The ‘S’ in SAID stands for specific, meaning that the body only makes adaptations to withstand the specific stress that it is placed under.

The amount that an athletes training programme carries over into their sport, depends upon a number of factors which is also often reffered to as dynamic correspondence.

Dynamic Correspondence

All exercises that are performed with the intention of increasing performance, should be chosen to enhance the required motor qualities, and movement patterns of the sport.

Once you understand the shapes your body makes during a Jiu Jitsu contest, you can start developing your strength and power in those areas. For example, when breaking somebody’s posture in full guard, you’ll need to keep a strong grip, and pull your opponent down, as well as having to depend on your hip & core strength to assist you.

This motion can be worked on using very similar movement patterns. Such as a Gi Pull Up (to develop back and grip strength) and Hanging Leg Raises to develop hip flexion strength.

Transfer will take place much more easily in lower level athletes, due to their high sensitivity levels to physical activity.

However this doesn’t mean that high level athletes can’t make an improvement on their physical conditioning. But it does mean their training methods must take on a greater emphasis of sports specificity in order to result in the desired adaptation.

Working With Intent

In order to generate the highest levels of transfer between conditioning and sport, the athlete must work at the higher threshold of his motor units. What does this mean?

Olympic lifting is a fantastic tool for increasing maximal power output. However the athlete should only begin increasing the weight on the bar, and working towards their max when the movement has become second nature, and the athlete is not focussed on the movement itself. This will allow the athlete to perform each lift with maximal intent behind the movement, which allows for a far higher level of transfer.

Each exercise performed to increase performance should be done with maximal intent. This can only be done when the athlete is 100% confident in their technique.

If you only take a few points away with you from this post, remember these:

  • Work at maximal intensity (develop technique until you are safely able to do so)

  • Choose exercises with similar movement patterns to your sport

  • Develop your strength before you try to increase maximal power (increased force development precedes and underpins power development)

Stay safe everyone, hopefully we can all get back to training soon


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