BJJ Drills: The Key to Improving Faster at Jiu Jitsu?
The topic of bjj drills has divided the grappling community for quite some time.
Is it better to practice techniques on your own or with a cooperating partner over and over until the movement is perfect?
Or is it better to practice the moves in real situations, with resisting opponents, like in sparring rounds?
Other grappling arts such as Judo and wrestling rely heavily on technical drilling for training. Of course, these arts agree with the need to spar or to go live (as is said in wrestling), but seem to do so in a more strategic way than most bjj academies.
Certain parts of the bjj community have become known for their anti-drilling practices, insisting that true learning and development can only come from practicing techniques in real situations (ie. sparring). Welcome to the land of 10 rounds of 10 minutes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Meanwhile, others believe bjj drills can play an important role in understanding how your body moves through space in relation to your opponent. The better you get at these movements, the theory goes, the easier it will be to apply these movements when grappling with a trained, resisting opponent.
Both schools of thought make good points. Here’s our take on the matter.
BJJ drills can improve your ground game similar to how shadow boxing can improve your striking.
We agree, if you only did bjj drills and never sparred, you wouldn’t be developing very realistic skills. But it’s crazy to think that you won’t benefit from the increased mobility, flexibility, and muscle memory that comes from practicing the right bjj drills.
What are BJJ Drills?
For the sake of this article, here’s the definition we’re using.
BJJ Drills: a movement, or sequence of movements, that mimics an actual scenario from a bjj sparring round or match.
Some bjj drills can be done solo, while others require you to have a partner. At that, you can choose to practice a very specific technique to refine a small part of your game, or you can work to improve a more general movement that can be applied in many different positions once you finally get to sparring.
The two main categories of bjj drills are:
- Technical BJJ Drills
- Movement BJJ Drills
They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, as we’ll explore in the next sections.
What are Technical BJJ Drills?
Technical bjj drills focus on a specific technique, like a guard pass or submission. These are typically done slowly, with great attention being paid to the smallest details of the move. In time, speed becomes more important, but at first the goal is to move slowly, smoothly, and with intention and control.
An example of this could be an arm bar from closed guard when the opponent stacks and you are forced to invert to come out the back door and finish the submission from there.
Another example could be a very specific type of leg lock escape, where you must hit several technical checkpoints along your way out of the submission – ending with you being in a neutral or advantageous position, or even countering with a submission of your own.
What are Movement BJJ Drills?
Yoga for BJJ is one way to improve your flexibility, mobility, and bjj movement in general.
Movement bjj drills focus on concepts and themes instead of specific techniques. This could be something like a guard recovery, a transition between positions, or reactions to a technique that aren’t clearly defined.
An example of this could be a type of inversion when a partner briefly gets passed your guard.
Another example could be what’s known by most as a technical get-up or stand-up, also known as a hip heist, where you go from being on the ground to standing.
How to Get Started with BJJ Drills
First, you need to decide what you want to drill. Some people choose to improve a technique or position they’re already good at, while others choose to work on something they’ve been struggling with.
Once you’ve found the technique or movement you want to work on, find ways to incorporate into your day. Maybe this is before and after training, maybe it’s paired with strength and conditioning, or maybe you do some of these moves every day at home.
If you don’t have any ideas right away for what you want to practice, check out our recommendations for the 3 best YouTube videos for bjj drills below.
3 Best YouTube Videos for BJJ Drills
In this video, legendary competitor Andre Galvao leads you through a solo bjj drill circuit that is sure to sharpen your movement and make you sweat! Sprawls, wrestling shots, core exercises – this circuit is a great way to simulate a high-paced nogi sparring round.
In this video, another legendary competitor, Cobrinha, shows 14 simple bjj drills you can do at home without a partner. Just like Galvao’s circuit, this routine will work your bjj movement and your cardio if you take it seriously! Cobrinha goes through a handful of different wrestling shots and movements at first, making his way to the ground for the last part of the video.
All you need to follow along with this video is some mats, a wall to push off of occasionally – oh, and a rash guard doesn’t hurt either!
ADCC standout Lachlan Giles, with the help of his wife Livia Giles, leads you through the most important stretches you can do for bjj. This is a bit different than the first two videos on our list, but the information is so valuable we couldn’t leave it out.
If you didn’t know, Lachlan has his PhD in Physiotherapy, so he knows a thing or two about how the body moves (and how it’s not supposed to move as well #heelhook).
You can combine these videos and work on your bjj movements and your bjj flexibility and mobility all together, or you can choose to keep them separate.
Either way, adding some key bjj drills to your routine can help you level up your ground game in no time. If you have an extra 15 minutes per day to yourself, you have time for bjj drills.
We get it – you can’t always make it to the gym. Why not get your own mats for training at home? Lay the mats out in your bedroom, living room, or backyard, and you’re ready to train!
Check out our review article on jiu jitsu mats for home bjj drills!