Breath Control

blowI would say learning to relax and breath is probably the single most important skill you can learn when you begin to practice BJJ.  Although this is something I tell other people I still need to work on breathing during competition.  I think breath control is the main factor between people’s performance while sparring at school and during a real match.  Below is an article by Stephan Kesting about the importance of breathing while practicing BJJ.    

Triple Your BJJ Endurance

Would you like to triple your grappling endurance.  How about also getting stronger, tougher and smarter on the mats?

Of course you want to, and there’s an easy way to do it.

Actually, it’s all about avoiding a mistake that’ll kill your endurance, your strength and your will to fight.  Making this mistake will even make you stupid.

And that mistake is holding your breath while sparring.

Holding the breath is a VERY common beginner error.  It’s a natural reaction when someone is straining away for all they’re worth.   

If you were competing in powerlifting and trying to do a single repetition of the deadlift with enormous poundage, then holding your breath would be appropriate.  Breathing doesn’t matter as much if your event is only 5 seconds long!

However most sparring matches are more than 5 seconds long.  Brazilian jiu-jitsu is hard work, and when you’re grappling you need a lot of oxygen.  Hold your breath for even a few seconds and you’ll go into oxygen debt. 

Once you’re in oxygen debt you become weak, meek and stupid.  It’s virtually impossible to recover from this while you’re engaged in a hard match.
I’ve even seen tough blue belts and purple belts make this same mistake (usually when they’re competing in a tournament). These were competitors with killer skills who gassed out completely and lost to lesser opponents, all because they got stressed out and started holding their breath.

So check in with your body often, and make sure that you’re breathing all the timeAlso let your training partners know when they’re holding their breath.  Skilled training partners are the key to your own development!

Stephan Kesting

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