Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of Jiu-Jitsu for beginners is learning how to conserve energy at the right times. The new BJJ practitioner is usually so tense and wound up after the first match that they barely have anything left in the gas tank for a second round. I know because I have been there.
There are some tried and true techniques to preserving some energy so that you can spar the entire session. They are:
Relax – White belts tend to be very tense and/or spazzy. They will hold on to everything with a death grip and at other times they will flail about like someone possessed. You’ll quickly burn out that way. Relaxing doesn’t mean to turn into a lifeless rag doll or flopping around passively. You can build your frames, keep yourself protected, and eventually shrimp your way back to freedom. Burning out your grips right away in tandem with flailing about, will surely have you gassed out on the sidelines quickly.
Breathe – In the heat of the roll and all of it’s excitement it can become easy to “forget to breathe”. You won’t notice it but you may actually be holding your breath, helping your opponent out. You will often hear people reminding fighters, “Breathe! Breathe!”. It is for a good reason. Keep your own vocal coach going in your mind while rolling. Every once in a while remind yourself to breathe until it becomes natural again.
Improve your cardio – This sounds like a no brainer but the better shape you are in, the better you will perform on the mats. Instead of jogging over long distances to more sprinting style workouts. Do hill runs, sprints and hit the aerodyne bike. Good cardio will take your Jiu-Jitsu performance to the next level for sure!
Improve your technique – The more you improve your technique, the less energy you will be using overall. The more muscle memory kicks in, the less mental strain is involved. The roll now becomes more of a flow. Spazziness becomes a thing of the past. Keep showing up and taking notes (during or after class). As your technique improves you will notice that you have extra reserves in the tank for rolling for an hour or more!
Hope this helps!
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