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Jiu Jitsu Training

I practice brazilian jiu jitsu and have also been using the westside for skinny bastads program and have got my bench to 470 and deadlift to 605

However at present I am finding that that the new found strength is not translating so well to the mat.

Im just after any advice that other Bjj’ ers or wrestlers may have to aid my progress cause I want to be as strong as I can and still be functional. Thanks

Yes. Cut way back on your lifting and grapple, grapple, grapple.

How much do you weigh? A 470 bench is more than plenty for a grappler and the deadlift as well(forgot how much you said that was). Maintain that strength and hit the mat for some technique work and conditioning because that is more than likely lacking. Strength will never carryover to your sport if you do not practice it enough. I think Joe DeFranco said something to the effect of practice on the field will make your weightroom training sport specific. That is not word for word so I apologize to Joe if it came out wrong.

Your lifts are good. Whenever I hear, ‘my strength doesn’t transfer’ I think you need to incorporate speed and ballistic lifts. Westside for skinny bastards I think leaves out the dynamic day. You need to start doing band, chain, med ball throw and speed type work and your strength will transfer.

Also, as strong as you are you may be a ‘difficult’ jiu jitsu student. That is, closed minded cause not everything works for you right away or not everything works on you cause your strength negates it. If your strength gets in the way of your learning, learning not competeing, you may want to do a rough conditioning workout before learning so you have to use technique. Also, you have to put ego aside to learn. Not sure if this is your issue or not. Also important is range of motion/flexibility. It is an important component of the gaurd and a nesecity in Jiu Jitsu. You may want to get stretched by a pro. Someone like a Joe Defranco.
Last, mat time, like the guys above said, must come first. While learning jiu jitsu, you should be going 4x/week to learn and practice rolling, have goals in sparring besides winning, train to learn from your mistakes. Lift heavy once every 10 days and you’ll maintain your strength. Lift fast once every 5 days and the strength should transfer nicely. For now, conditioning for jiu jitsu will happen as you just train jiu jitsu.

I don’t know what your weight class is but those are damn respectable numbers at any weight. If you don’t feel it’s helping your jiu jitsu it may lie in the fact that you are trying to muscle people instead of using pure technique. I’d say you already have plenty of strength, just maintain it and grapple more, say 4x per week. Focus on pure technique and no one will be able to hang with you.

Doing some speed work may help as well. Instead of your repition day, do a dynamic effort lower body or upper body day. I don’t think it will be to much on your legs since so much of jiu jitsu happens on the ground anyway.

Stick to it and it will pay. Don’t be discouraged either. A point of interest for you is that Mark Kerr was already was an Olympic level wrestler, well established in MMA and known for his colossal strength before he started training BJJ in Beverly Hills. Even though he was regarded as the #1 fighter in the world, the head instructor deemed him a blue belt. Food for thought.

That’s some good advice on this thread that you have been given. It doesn’t really matter if you are the strongest. You might meet a little guy with mad skills. You may be using all your strength, but if you can’t submit him you will get tired. At this point even a 12 year old girl could whoop your ass!!

I train with Ryron, Renner and Ralek (Rorion’s sons) I know I am way stronger than them. But they have perfect technique. There is no way I can get away with using 100% strength with 50% technique on them.

What really helped my conditioning for my last JJ tournament(I won my weight class) was doing some GPP and I also added sessions of just bodyweight exercises.

But like it’s been said above just grapple alot!!

I would suggest grappling/skill work is the #1 most important aspect of BJJ.

as my instructor says: the three most important physical atributes for BJJ are NOT speed, strength and endurance. They are sensitivity, timing and awareness.

Speed strength and endurance are nice to have if you don’t have great technique, but in the long run wont do you as much good as experience will.

I’ve had great luck with sandbag work, bridges with people sitting on my chest, unilateral arm/leg work in unstable positions and plyometrics to help my explosive movements.

Oh yeah, and O-lifts are a staple of my daily routine (in one way or another).


There are quite a few experienced grapplers on this board who are always willing to help. You have gotten good advice but we could probably help more if you got very specific about the problems you are having. Muscle fatigue, lack of cardio, inflexibility etc.

There is no better advice than to roll a lot, but make sure it is under the watchful eye of an experienced person. Or better yet, roll with that experienced person! I would suspect that you would crush a number of intermediate guys with your power alone, but this will never translate into a more sophisticated game.

To Sancho,

Were you at GQ West and if so, what are the guys at your gym saying about the match with Laimon?

Thanks guys. In relation to my game at present my biggest problem is that I’m gassing out to soon, so I’m just gonna get on the mat as much as pobbible.

I think that my cardio will start coming up more now as I’m going to try and drop from 240 to around 230


Another bit of advice, try being the little guy once in a while. In other words don’t attack every time you roll,
just defend. Alot of the bigger guys down at the Gracie academy always want to be in the top position (side mount,passing guard,etc.). Then when they get swept or reversed they seem lost in the bottom position. Not to mention they are totally winded from attacking and now they have to defend.

Swallow your pride, let your opponent get you in your least favorite position and let him attack. Try to learn how to defend your weak positions, as time goes by you should feel more comfortable in your weakest positions. You don’t want to become a one dimensional fighter always wanting to dominate from the top. Since you are a big guy it seems natural that that’s what you want to do all the time. Do the exact opposite.

BJJ is supposed to be fun,if you are roughing it up every spar session, it’s not going to be fun trying to recover from injuries.

To JD430,

I did not go to the Grappler’s Quest tourney. But I did see the fight between Mark and Ryron on tape.

There were alot of different opinions on the fight down at the academy. Some don’t care, some care to much. Alot of talk of stalling, time limits and so on.

I personally prefer the IGJJF rules. There are no time limits. It’s first to get 12 points or get a sub wins. You get 3 points for getting the side, 4 for mount, 4 for getting your hooks in from the back. There are no points for take down. This way you have to move to get points and not sit on a 2 point lead from a take down. In the IGJJF tourneys 80% of the matches end in subs. In other federation tourney’s rules 20% end in subs.

In the end it really doesn’t really matter what Marc’s camp or Gracie camps think or say. Ryron is just training hard and looking forward to his next fight. Ryron isn’t one to cry about his loss on points. Sure he’s disappointed by the way he lost the fight. Marc just played the rules better than Ryron that day.

Renner’s style is more suited to time limits he goes after you like a pit bull from the start and never lets up. Ryron is more of a wait until the guy makes a mistake and then he’ll make you pay for it!! Peace Out!!

Sancho gives some great advice. It mirrors advice that I received from two world champion black belts.

Steve Maxwell recommended practicing and going live with a girl of the same belt. Without getting into any immature jokes, he said it’s a great way to practice because, unless you’re a total meathead, you won’t use strength and focus on technique and strategy.

Saulo Ribiero told me at a seminar that the beauty of BJJ was that when you are excited to go to class you improve but when you are tired and don’t want to practice is time you will improve the most because you won’t use strength, just technique.

Powerful advice from guys with about ten world titles between the two of them.


Ive cut down on the strength thing and have been doing long rounds where I am either trying to keep a position or sweep etc from various positions.

The longs round are also making my technique better as the strength becomes less of an issue as the rounds wear on.

I greatly appreciate the input and am always keen more more wrestling BJJ info


First and foremost, congratulations on your strength numbers, they are mighty impressive!

However, strength and combat sports abilities are 2 differents animals. One quick example: my shooto instructor weights 160 lbs and he eaily outgun many 200+ fighters. Why? He’s quicker and he KNOW what to do. He’s always well placed for locks, don’t give away arms or legs…and he can’t probably bench press more than 155lbs!

So the moral is: Strength is GOOD but grappling is GREAT. Do more productive time on the mat, film yourself and look at your mistakes and correct them one by one. Practive with lot of people and well, you know the drill! =)

Stay sharp and keep up your good work!


I was in a unique position to have trained with Royce Gracie for a while several summers ago.

One time after he was finished twisting me into whatever particular shape that he wanted to see that day, we left the mat and walked over to the free weight area. Royce laid down on a Bench and began to Bench Press. I could tell that he had either never performed this exercise, or at least was not very good at it.

There was 135lbs. on the bar he took it off the rack and performed five reps with it. He barely got the fifth rep! I knew then that while it’s always better to have more strength than your opponent, all other things being equal, strength is not the most important thing.

He then went over to the Treadmill warmed up a bit and cranked it up to 9mph. He ran at that pace until he reached one mile. When he got off his breathing was hard, but not what you would expect for someone who just ran a pretty fast mile.

He then got on one of those stretching machines (the type where you sit on the ground and crank your legs apart). I watched him crank it so that his legs were all the way out, one on each side. Then he kept going to the point where his legs were several inches past that point. It looked sort of freaky.

The entire point of the story is to show you that you don’t have to be the strongest guy on the mat in order to be the best. Of course, you better have other tricks in your bag. As you know being a Jiu-Jitsu practioner, technique is what will further your game more than anything.

Since the mid 90’s when Royce ruled the mats, much stronger guys have taken his place. However, that does not negate the fact that technique is still king. These strong guys are also quite proficient at technique. Strength is simply a very important helper. As a former High School and collegiate wrestler I used to literally toy with guys in gym class who were as much as 50lbs. heavier than I was…technique ruled!

As far as exercises in my opinion I think you need to work with more explosive movements: Clean & Press would be a real good one to incorporate. Naturally, keep the Deadlift, drop the Bench Press (I won’t get into why here). Add lot’s of Dumbbell work as it gives you the chance to work each arm independently, sort of like a grappling match.

I would also do sand bag and log or rock lifting work if you have the opportunity.

Good Luck,


I trained with Kurt Pellegrino of the Gracie brothers (Royce and Renzo)and from my experience I could tell you that static or concentric strength you have can merit you if you have the skill to go with it. Or else, your strength may very well work against you. Needless to say your numbers (400/600) are impressive, you, like already said on this board, are doing too much gym and not enough grapple.

My friend grappled Kurt P. and split his head open on the mat after 5 seconds of a mount. People gathered around him as blood leaks out unto the mat until someone announces “Ewwww, I can see your brains!!”. This guy was a (500/650) 6’2" man. Strength wasnt an issue in grappling. Unless you can use it to maneuever your momentum to advantage points, and that my friend is called skill.

I’m trying NOT to re-hash other peoples posts like a Fitness Magazine because they are all right, but My two cents are that I had the same trouble you had. My success was cutting time from the gym and did more plyometric excercizes at home. Trust me on this one, and Swim alot. I can’t explain it, but somehow it helps condition you for the mat. Thats what I did and it worked for me. Like someone said before, Medicine balls and resistance excercizes arent something to laugh at.

Ian King once responded to a question that was very similar to yours his response is below:
If you need to get stronger train like a powerlifter,
If your not big enough or you want to move up a weight class, train like a bodybuilder.
If you find your strength not transferring to your sport, then train like a strong man.
If your not fast enough, then train like an O’lifter.

Bring up your GPP using bodyweight drills (for more info read the Renegade stuff).
Mobility is a very important variable in our sport, especial hip/shoulder mobility.
Who do you think hits harder a 200lb or a 600lb bench presser? (Dumb question huh, the 600lb bencher)? With that said do not give up strength training, CS said it best in an article he published a wile ago he said: A martial artist who implores powerlifting type training will be a better martial artist for doing so.

Sounds like your GPP is lacking as well as your skill.
James Smith in his article ‘The Significance of Specific Strength Development in MMA’ had this to say on the matter:

"GPP is achieved by means and methods of general conditioning, mobility, flexibility, and strength exercises, or drills, which serve to develop a base level of general physical preparedness that will prepare the athlete for the implementation of SPP means and methods.

An example of a fighter who would be better served by developing his level of GPP would be a fighter who possesses strength, speed and skill yet cannot express those strengths for any appreciable amount of time during a fight. This is an illustration of a lack of conditioning/anaerobic/aerobic endurance."

Even so I am suprised that with those numbers you can’t see any advantage over your opponents. I notice a distinct advantage over more skillful, better conditioned yet weaker opponents with my much smaller numbers (300 bench/ 440 dead). But when I gas I become weak as a kitten and any strength advantage is nullified. Work on your conditioning.

Work on specific movements and imbalances(bridging, lunges, sweep movements with cables, rotator cuff work etc) Injury prehab will keep you on the mat longer.
Work on VO2Max. It will help you recover much faster.
GPP to make both your energy systems and movement patterns more efficient for the biomechanics of wrestling.
Work out how much time is best to devote to this, as the guys above say, mat work and only mat work will make oyu a better wrestler, particularly to the beginner/intermediate.