Flexibility for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Beginners

A common issue we see with BJJ beginners is that their hips are severely limited in terms of flexibility and mobility. BJJ is a unique sport/martial art in terms of the mobility requirements, but most martial arts are pretty demanding on the hips. The big difference for BJJ players (versus, say, karate fighters or kickboxers) is that they end up stuck underneath someone else, and hip movement is the prime mover to escape those situations. So most people, when they start BJJ, have simply not needed to really work on their hip mobility. The other thing working against people these days is that they simply spend hours and hours in a seated position. Watching TV, working at a desk, and driving all work against hip mobility by keeping the hips locked into one position.

Combined with this, we also see serious stiffness and lack of motion in the shoulders and upper spine, particularly for men. All of these can lead to, at best, a limited BJJ game, and, at worst, increased risk of injuries. It needs to be addressed. I don’t think I have ever met someone who required no additional work in the flexibility department.

Long story short, if you want to improve at BJJ,flexibility and mobility is absolutely required. There are several ways to approach this. My experience as a coach has been that the best one is the one that you’ll actually do.

1. Old-school static stretching
This is the kind of stuff that your gym teacher had you do. Touch your toes, hold for fifteen seconds, etc. People have used this type of stretching successfully for years. I would recommend this routine that we previously posted, from the team at 1441.us

2. New school mobility work
Pioneered by physical therapists like Dr. Kelly Starrett, mobility work attacks the problem by using implements to increase your range of motion. Common tools include foam rollers, heavy rubber bands, and lacrosse balls. This is my personal favorite method, and we posted 6 basic exercises in this style here. More info can be found at www.mobilitywod.com

3. Yoga
Many people enjoy yoga, but just as many people can’t stand it. If it works for you, it provides not only substantial flexibility benefits, but can also build strength and cardiovascular health. It is well worth a try. For BJJ students, I would really recommend YogaforBJJ, which is run by Sebastian Brosche, a yoga instructor and BJJ world champion. Start with their free short programs.

4.Gymnastics-Based Flexibility
Gymnastics is another sport that has serious demands on flexibility, and many gymnastics coaches have produced excellent material on flexibility work. I would recommend the stuff that Christopher Sommer, of the US National Team has produced, which you can find at gymnasticbodies.com. I have also had a good response to the stuff that the team at Gold Medal Bodies produces, and here’s a short taste of their hip mobility work:



Whichever route you take, there’s a simple way to get started: start small, and be consistent. Sebastian Brosche of yogaforbjj.ner recommends 10-15 minutes, twice a day, as a starting point. That seems like a reasonable amount of time to address a relatively serious health issue (if you, like most of us, sit all day). 10-15 minutes applied to any of these programs will yield a sea change in flexibility and mobility, which means you’ll be having more fun on and off the mats.

  • For more information on Martial Arts for children and adults, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo in Denver, visit http://www.alchemymartialarts.net or give us a call 303-900-8111
  • We serve the central Denver area, including the Baker, Highlands, Wash Park, Congress Park, Capitol Hill, Downtown, Uptown, Governor’s Park, and City Park neighborhoods. We’re located near 8th Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, close to everywhere.


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