The Importance Of A Good Warm-up In Jiu-Jitsu
by David Kama, Professor 4th Degree, Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Founder, Kama Jiu-Jitsu

The most important part of ANY training session is a proper warmup. It doesn’t matter if you do Jiu-Jitsu, or are an athlete in another sport. A proper warm-up gets your body AND your mind prepared to be “stressed.”

Here is a quick, but no less important, warm-up session my master Rickson Gracie did to help his son Kron before one of his IBJJF Pan Am competitions.

As you can see in this video, Master Rickson engaged Kron in a quick routine designed to:
1. Get his blood flowing and circulating 0:20
2. Get his heart rate up slightly, but not too high 0:39
2a. Notice how Master Rickson, even though he is not competing, engages in a little bit of a warm-up for himself 0:46
3. Establish his base and balance 0:57
4. Establish his hand-eye coordination 1:53
5. (Just as any good father would do…) Show his son he’s behind him 100% and loves him very much 2:44

This was just a quick “pick-me-up” before a match. Watch the warm-up clip of Master Rickson in the movie “Choke” here

However, with each class, we ALWAYS institute a “hard” warm-up to:
1. Get the participants’ blood flowing and circulating
2. Get their heart rates up (in this case, not so “slightly”)
3. Get their muscles “stressed” while being stretched with some challenging bodyweight exercise movements and routines.
4. Get their bones, joints, and ligaments warmed up and prepared for some hard work by applying “push,” “pull,” and “pressure” drills
5. Lastly, the warm-up’s goal is to use up some of the body’s glycogen stored in the muscles to “calm the member” down somewhat and tire them out some so their mind is forced to concentrate more on the techniques being taught and not so much on strength and explosiveness. The warm-ups also help to lessen the chances of injuries happening, which hurt like heck and keep you from training for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately, in today’s BJJ academy environment, warm-ups are given short shrift. If a school has a tight schedule (i.e. classes beginning at the top of every hour, ending at 10 to the hour) and short classes (an hour or less), it’s usually the hard warm-up that “disappears,” leaving members to come early to “stretch out some” on their own (almost no one ever does).

As long as I’ve known him, Master Rickson’s classes ALWAYS included a hard 30-minute plus warm-up.

In keeping with the benefits of the practice of such warm-ups, I direct my instructors to do the same in classes they teach. It’s certainly not the easiest tradition to keep up on day in and day out, but it really is THAT important!