There are certain topics I repeat to students when I’m teaching the class. One of them is about working on strength, flexibility, and cardio to enhance your jiu-jitsu game. All of them will also keep you healthy or overall and help to prevent injury. Of the three, I emphasize flexibility the most, since it is not actively being practiced in class. You’ll get cardio work during some drills and rolls. There will be some strength work when you roll that will vary for several reasons. Most people tend to use more strength than lower belts when their technique is at a lower level. Also, the smaller partner will be forced to use more strength with larger partners and everyone will use strength when working on submissions such as chokes.
As for flexibility, there isn’t active stretching during a roll. There can be mobility work during some drills that might help, but flexibility is something that is important to practice outside of class. Being flexible can be very beneficial to your game and health. Usually, people tend to think of specific techniques, such as rubber guards, where a certain amount of flexibility is necessary. I speak about many positions where flexibility is involved that students may not realize. Some examples are when your windshield wiper your legs. The more flexible you are the better range you have with the windshield wiper motion. Another example is the mount position. To maximize hip pressure some straddling of your legs is required. Those examples are just two of many positions. With all of the techniques, flexibility will always help. It will also help in keeping your joints more pliable during rolling, hence more resilient to submissions.
When it comes to strength, there is that saying in jiu-jitsu about technique “beating” strength. I definitely agree with learning and using proper technique as opposed to strength, since it is more efficient. My point is that you also want to have strength along with the technique. If you and an opponent have the same level of technique, then the stronger person is going to have the advantage. Keeping your body strong will also help your joints stay strong and more resilient in jiu-jitsu.
Cardio is used most during class but the intensity can naturally vary depending on how you and/or your partner roll. The same is true with drills. The nature of some requires more cardio than others and you and your partner can intentionally control the speed. Cardio is unavoidable in jiu-jitsu, but if it is your weakest link of the three, then you want to put in extra time outside of class.
Training your flexibility, strength, and cardio can be done in the convenience of your own home. Flexibility work can be done anywhere, even if you’re sitting and watching television. There are many forms of cardio that can be done outside or in your home without a machine. As for strength training, you can do plenty even if you don’t have any equipment. There may be fewer options, but push-ups, core work, and lunges are examples that can be done anywhere. There are many more options where are you only need minimal equipment. Look at your strengths and weaknesses of the three mentioned, and create a plan accordingly with emphasis on the weakest. The result is better jiu-jitsu and health!