What Do Most Students Dislike About BJJ Class?

I read a discussion on a BJJ forum about what aspect of BJJ class students dislike. According to those who answered, the overwhelming answer was “the 30 minute ‘warm-ups’ with hard conditioning”.

I have visited many different jiu-jitsu schools and seen the range from very hard conditioning sessions to start a class all the way to “Just warm yourselves up”. The hard warm-up schools tended to be very competition oriented and wanted to ensure that the competitors were in top condition.

The majority of students just don’t want to spend class time doing calisthenics, for a number of reasons:

1) Many advanced students do their own conditioning sessions separate from BJJ class and consider the push-ups, burpees and jumping jacks a waste of precious class time. If you have done kettlebells or a basic weight training workout the day before, you just don’t need to do 100 push-ups in class. And I agree.

2) I have run BJJ classes at some MMA gyms and quickly realized that the fighters were already getting a TON of training each week. MMA fighters are also doing boxing or Muay Thai, wrestling and very likely separate conditioning sessions in addition to BJJ. They don’t need to be doing pushups in BJJ. They come to BJJ class to…well….learn BJJ.

3) It turns off the hobbyist / recreational student. At the end of a work day, the appeal of stretching out on the couch with a movie and pizza instead of BJJ class is tremendously appealing. The thought of a tough warm-up can be the difference between going to class and not. The young dudes who live for BJJ are enthusiastic about hard warm-ups, but the average student would rather get a light sweat going and then learn BJJ.

The best advice (and the consensus of most of the black belts who offered an opinion) was that a moderate warm-up that focused on BJJ specific movements or drills was the most productive. Fundamental ground movements like shrimps and bridges are much more applicable to building the skills students need. Drilling some guard passes or triangles are also a great way to use the warm-up time to actually improve your jiu-jitsu. What will benefit your skill development more? Jumping jacks or doing 20 repetitions of the Bullfighter guard pass?

One final point is that learning a complex motor skill (like an armbar from the guard) is best done when the student is warmed up but not physically exhausted. Do you learn better when you have energy or when you are fatigued from running around the mat?

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    • Well, there was that one time my coach broke my nose doing an arm bar and 3 days later I was in class and we were doing North South and my partner was wearing a very large, very hard cup and that really sucked. I would have much preferred a pair of balls to a hard cup that day…. Just saying


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