T Nation

MMA Beginner with Low Mobility. BJJ?


#1

What’s good, guys?

A little background: I have dabbled in various martial arts for short spurts just to get a taste (~3-6 months in each), including Hapkido, Krav Maga, Kajukenbo, and a very brief stint of Taekwondo.

I have absolutely terrible flexibility in my hips and hamstrings. I know essentially all martial arts will increase mobility if you stick with them because of the requirements to properly perform movements. However, there were times when I couldn’t even do certain drills because my mobility was so poor. This was not only discouraging, but also led to me not being able to even practice correct form, so I was better off just increasing mobility through more direct means until I could have the capacity to perform the proper motor patterns. This makes me think that grappling, instead of striking, would a better investment of my time as mobility continues to improve.

Where I live now, the most readily available schools teach muay thai or BJJ, both of which have always been of high interest to me. I would like to commit to one and prove that I can stick with it for longer than the lame short stints I have done previously. I am leaning towards BJJ for the reason I stated above (grappling vs striking motor patterns).

Long story short, is BJJ an art that you feel someone can still effectively practice and progress with good technique even with poor mobility? Obviously the mobility will improve with time no matter what I do as long as I stick with it, but practicing strikes that don’t even resemble proper form, all just to eventually increase mobility and then finally be able learn the correct motor patter seems like a poor choice. Do you guys agree? Should I try out BJJ? Am I being a complete puss?


#2

Hey mate,
I am a purple belt in bjj and don’t necessarily have great mobility. I also do a lot of mma, boxing and kickboxing. I dont know exaclty your limitations but my Shoulders have a fairly small range of motion. My legs aren’t very long. I have a hip that clicks and gets stuck. Terrible knees. But I have been aware of these things while training and been able to work with them and around them to develop my skills.
It can come down to your instructor, luckily mine is of fairly similar body type to me. But for example, if you were to go to a club with a long and lanky instructor whose game was all about those traits then you may get disheartened.
Its gonna be hard. The easiest thing about bjj is turning up on your first day. It gets harder and harder. But its fucking worth it.
So stick to it and apply yourself. Train intelligently for your body and enjoy.


#3

Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful response!

I think once I start my new job and get settled into a routine I’ll step into a school and see how it goes. Hopefully by then my hips are a bit looser. Do you think going only twice a week is okay? That’s all my schedule would allow at this point if I want to continue lifting as well.


#4

Yea for sure. Two per week is good in the way that your more likely to digest the information taught to you.


#5

Stretch daily. Train as much as possible.

It took 2 years of muy Thai before I could throw a head kick on adults that didn’t suck dick. You don’t need that much mobility for kickboxing, you need that much mobility to do it well. As a beginner, you can’t do the stuff u CAN do well. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Take measures to fix it, and improve what you can.
Depending on the school, jiu jitsu may be even harder with bad mobility. Example: a lot of big people in a 10th planet gym


#6

I’m only like 10 weeks into BJJ, but I don’t see why any normal, healthy adult couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even do some of the warm-ups when I began, but that problem cured itself in short order. You also don’t need a ton of mobility to work on a lot of the basics.


#7

If my answer seems worded otherwise, to clarify, you can pursue any of the martial arts with even sub par mobility. As a noob, you will suck no matter what. Put the time in, mobility will come.
But don’t be afraid of kickboxing. And if those 10th planet ppl tell you rubber guard is just angles, their half lying.


#8

I appreciate the encouragement and insight from you both! @coplan @twojarslave

Not 100% decided yet. It may come down to which school is most appealing (instructor, students, schedule, etc).


#9

In my few months of BJJ, I’ve learned that people depending on their physical strengths and weaknesses and personality seem to be able to adapt it to the way they’re made.

Some are very much about finesse and flexibility while others have a much harder style of grappling. Some will directly use their legs a lot for defense and/or offense while others don’t. Some wait in a very stable position and wait for the opponent whereas others choose to be very mobile. Some stay on the ground more and others stand up more. There’s so many options and minor tweaks to that can be made to the movements.

I tend to be stronger, more explosive, and more flexible than most so I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that. My point being, I know diddly squat, but this is what I’ve seen so far.


#10

:joy::joy: well I definitely appreciate you adding your experience to the discussion.


#11

Not enough info to give a good answer to.

It’ll really depend on the kind of place the BJJ school is, really.

To answer your direct question though- No, I don’t think BJJ is a combat sport you can do with poor mobility. The idea is that your mobility will increase as you do it though. Certainly happened for me with movements that I did frequently during newaza (judo ground game, the same as BJJ in function), but only if I did it frequently.