Training Jiu Jitsu is a unique endeavour, and we must learn to be mindful of the intensity in our sessions in order to progress properly. It’s easy to take the stance that going ‘full force’ is the optimum path, but it can lead to being constantly burnt out and not progressing in the correct way. We must learn to vary the intensity of our training sessions, and there are a number of anomalies that should dictate the demands of a given session on the mat.

If you know you’re gearing-up for a competition sparring class the following day, you’re probably best keeping the current day’s sessions to a lower intensity; perhaps focus on drilling, specific sparring or ale a conscious effort to lower your intensity in sparring – leave your ego at the door!

World renown coach and Jiu Jitsu mastermind, John Danaher, recently offered up his thoughts via social media:

“Varying your intensity levels: A truly vital skill in grappling is that of learning to VARY YOUR LEVELS OF PHYSICAL INTENSITY ACCORDING TO THE DEMANDS OF THE SITUATION YOU ARE IN. Probably the single most common problem I see in beginning students is an inability to change and regulate the intensity of their physical effort – they just go at maximum intensity the whole match. The inevitable result is that that quickly tire and fade.

The other extreme is athletes who play so loose that when it’s time to pull the trigger and hit a move, are so loose that it is simply ineffective. Somewhere in between these extremes is the happy medium you seek. As a general price of advice – only employ maximal muscle contractions in short bursts and only when actually looking to perform a given move. At other times stay in a state of relaxed focus. Not that even in those short bursts of maximal muscular exertion – KEEP BREATHING and don’t use muscular strength to compensate for positional errors – get your body in good position first and THEN apply your strength. In this way you can play a hard physical game without exhausting yourself to a point where you become ineffective. Look at this picture. Georges St-Pierre has gotten into a potential finishing position and is thus ready to apply some serious force – the strain shows.

Next to him Gordon Ryan has gotten to a dominant position but does not yet have a finishing hold in place and so takes on a very relaxed demeanour. The contrast between them is striking and instructive – one situation demands muscular tension and exertion, the other allows relaxation on the understanding that this will preserve your strength for a time when it is needed. KEEP MONITORING YOU STRENGTH/TENSION OUTPUT AS YOU ENGAGE YOUR OPPONENT. Know when to be tight and when to be loose and you will defeat many opponents on endurance alone and the rest by having the physicality in reserve to finish that potential match winning move.”


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