5 Things to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu (Off of the Mat)   

By: Daniel Frank

All jiu jitsu players strive to improve their game. Some incorporate wrestling or judo to improve their takedowns. Others take yoga classes, or spend more time stretching, to improve their flexibility. Some jiu jitsu players drill endlessly, to improve their timing and muscle memory, so that their technique will be precise once they are on the mat for a competition.

These are all good examples of improvements that can be made on the mat.  What happens when you can’t be on the mat all of the time? Injuries can, and do, occur. Life happens and responsibilities prevent many people from getting to the academy as much as they would like to. The following is a list of five things that a person, struggling to find time to get on the mat, can do to improve their game.

1. Improve Your Cardio
Time off of the mats does little to diminish the knowledge you have already gleaned from your time on the mats. However, time off of the mats can kill your gas tank. Without realizing it, the rolls you are getting in at your academy are doing wonders for your cardio endurance. When you can’t get your rolls in it is advisable to get your cardio training elsewhere (if physically possible). Bicycling, swimming, and rowing are all excellent activities that will keep your heart pumping and you lungs working overtime when you can’t make the trip to the academy.


2. Improve Your Diet
Time spent off of the mats can also lead to a weight increase. This can occur because the jiu jitsu practitioner may continue to eat the same amount of food (calories) that they were consuming while they were training steadily. If the practitioner is not burning that same amount of calories, then weight gain is inevitable. The best way to combat this weight gain is to eat less food than normally consumed while training and also to eat cleaner. Less processed foods and sweets is ideal. Cooking with fruits and vegetables will not only taste better, but will prevent the dreaded weight gain.

3. Watch Matches
Technology has improved just about all aspects in the modern world. It has also helped the avid jiu jitsu fan. Nearly every match, at every tournament, across the planet, is being recorded. Once recorded most of these matches find their way to social media. Whether they are free to watch, on YouTube or Facebook, or cost money to watch, like the matches on Flo Grappling, all matches are useful to watch. You can find your matches to review and to critique. You can locate the matches of teammates and friends. You can also enjoy watching elite grapplers ply their trade at major tournaments worldwide.

4. Study Your Notes
This task will be extremely difficult to do if you haven’t made any notes previously. If you haven’t, then start to do so. What good is all of the knowledge being taught to you, if you are not committing it to memory somehow? Jiu jitsu classes are very similar to college courses. You took notes in your college courses, right? Once you begin taking notes, and find the most productive way to organize them, go back and study them. They might come in handy once you are back on the mats.



5. Locate Resources 
This point closely relates to the third point. Technology has progressed to the point that there are numerous ways to enjoy jiu jitsu, learn it, and hear from others who enjoy the same passion that you have for the gentle art. Numerous podcasts are available discussing the current goings on in the jiu jitsu world. DVD’s provide techniques on every aspect of the game. You can enjoy a DVD focusing on a strength in your game or get a DVD on a weakness in order to shore it up. Books and magazines can be found at the closet bookstore or ordered easily online and delivered to your doorstep quickly.

Spending time off of the mats, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will not kill your jiu jitsu game. Sometimes, it could be a blessing in disguise. Focusing on the mental aspect of your game can be just as important as the physical. You may find that once you step foot back on the mats you have improved your game without even realizing it.


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