By Scott Shetler:
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear among Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes, as well as other combat athletes, is that strength training is not important for improvement in the grappling arts. The idea is that all the focus should be on improving the tactical aspects of the art or sport itself and that technique will always trump strength. I don’t understand this idea as it implies that it is recommended to train strength and exclude, or limit, technique practice. I don’t understand why people feel it must be one or the other. The myth that strength training will make an athlete muscle-bound and slow persists. Thankfully this is changing.
The idea that strength is not important for grapplers and combat athletes never made sense to me. If strength didn’t matter why bother having weight classes and gender divisions in the sport? If strength didn’t matter why are so many combative athletes getting popped for anabolics and other performance enhancing drugs? If there are two athletes in the same weight class with the same level of skill but one utilizes a strength and conditioning program and the other doesn’t, I will put my money on the stronger athlete any day of the week.
Strength is incredibly important for grapplers and combat athletes, but it is just one of many crucial physical qualities. I consider strength to be a sort of “governor” on all the other abilities. When strength levels are increased the athlete is capable of greater speed and power through increasing ground contact force, which interestingly improves speed for endurance athletes as well. In addition, building strength will strengthen bones, tendons, and ligaments making the athlete more resilient.
“I believe adding strength and conditioning into my BJJ training it is what helped me finally get over that hurdle to win worlds gold and then go on to take gold in pans and repeat that in nogi as well.” -Chris Jones, Creighton BJJ brown belt, owner of Nucleus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, 2017 Pans, Worlds, Nogi Pans and Nogi Worlds gold medalist. (pictured above)