Stop Trying to Fix Your Cardio & Do This Instead

The biggest misconception in the Jiu Jitsu community is that you need to improve your cardio in order to keep up with your opponent.

The problem with this philosophy is:

Training cardio outside of Jiu Jitsu makes you more tired and less recovered for your cardio training during Jiu Jitsu.

Rolling in Jiu Jitsu is aerobic exercise in itself. In other words, by showing up to Jiu Jitsu and rolling, you are training and improving your cardiovascular system. There is no need to push yourself on a 5 mile run or spend an hour on an elliptical to improve your Jiu Jitsu. If anything, training aerobic exercise outside of Jiu jitsu will hinder your training because you will have already taxed your nervous system before you even step on the mat. The best way to train your cardio for Jiu Jitsu is to train Jiu Jitsu, so you do not need to be doing cardio exercises outside of Jiu Jitsu.

If you are tired of feeling tired, and training cardio is NOT helping, then keep reading to find out what you should do instead.

Learn when and how to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

At the seminar, Gui Mendes said:

“What separates lower belts from high belts is not cardio. It’s knowing when [and how] to breathe.”

While cardio is important, learning when and how to breathe in Jiu Jitsu is what will make the difference between you and an opponent who has similar, or possibly even better, cardio.

With a strong breath, you can learn to reduce fatigue and improve your focus, both of which are essential when rolling.

How to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

Inhale and Exhale through your nose for as long as you can during a roll. This type of breathing is known to allow more oxygen to get to active tissues, which is essential for muscle energy and endurance. If you want to learn more about nose breathing, I encourage you to listen to this podcast:

Eventually, you will find it very difficult to continue breathing through your nose in the roll. This is a sign to focus on your breathing once again. Focus on inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Relax your mind. Decide how you want to proceed.

If you are interested in this topic and would like to know more, I encourage you to listen to this podcast:

When to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

It’s tempting to work your way to closed guard, side control, mount, etc. and rest once you get there. Avoid this.

Why? Because you have just secured a dominant position and should capitalize on this position before you allow your opponent to recompose themselves and their breath.

The when to breathe in Jiu Jitsu is in the time after you have just tried a submission, sweep, or pass and it did not work, or right before you are about to pass, sweep, take the back, or go to mount.

Improve your endurance with strength training

If you are going to spend time at the gym outside of Jiu Jitsu, then you should be focusing on strength training. Lifting weights with long periods of rest in between sets.

You are already training your cardio by showing up to Jiu Jitsu. What you should focus on improving is your strength. When the muscles are stronger, they are more efficient in the energy that they use.

By giving yourself more time in between sets, you allow your muscles to recover for the next set so that you focus on strength over cardio.

If you want to improve your strength training routine, I encourage you to research kettlebell workouts and programs. I especially would recommend Strong as Hec Programming: Kettle Bell Workouts .

I will also be uploading a Youtube video that outlines my strength training routine. As always, if you have any questions about strength training, feel free to ask me at the gym.

Safety Tips On The BJJ Mats

Safety Tips On The BJJ Mats

Here we are going to provide some basic safety tips on the BJJ mats to keep you and your team safe. These are all observations of things that have happened or have been avoided. We already deal with everyday soreness and creaks from the body due to the just basic training, so there is no reason to get hurt from things that are avoidable. The professors and instructors can only do so much, so we also as students hold responsibility of keeping ourselfs and others around us safe if possible.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a beautiful gentle art, but if not taken seriously, there are some dangers involved that can, for the most part, be avoided with proper knowledge and precaution. During times of drilling, sparring, throws, and more, you always have to be aware of your surroundings. An example of this would be if you are doing any type of throws or takedowns, be cautious of where you are landing and where others are landing. By simply moving or having everyone face the same direction this can help avoid injury.  Another situation is during a roll to be courteous and cautious of others rolling around you and where you are in terms of mat space. Awareness is the biggest part of safety on the mats, and by not adhering to it simply means you are inviting injuries.


General Rules of Precaution on the Mats


  • Don’t just continue to roll to see if others move.
  • Respect higher belts and take initiative to move if you see they are about to enter your space.
  • Speak up to  your teammates if you see something about to happen.
  • If you are with a lower belt, remind them of technique over strength.
  • Notice your placement if you are getting close to the edge of the mat and just reset.
  • Properly fall and base during rolls to prevent injury.

Be A Good Teammate on the Mats

Showing up to class and being ready to roll is great and a big part of BJJ, but also being a good student of the art means to help your fellow teammates out during rolling when times are right. Always keep an eye out for yourself and the people around you. This means that if you see an aggressive roll going on around you, move or if you are resting, buffer the people rolling to prevent them from rolling into others if needed. Also, the intensity is different for everyone, and you do not know if someone is healing from an injury, has a past injury, or is just at a low level of energy for the day. A pre-roll talk of how hard you want to go is not a bad idea if you feel the need, especially if it is a new student or someone you have not rolled with. Last and for everyone who trains is control of your movements. For example, if you are trying a new move out and during live rolling it involves explosiveness or something that may catch someone off guard do it but do it with control. Slow and steady wins the race but also keeps people safe when practicing BJJ.

Mindful Concepts For BJJ Training

These are just some concepts that I have seen that keep people safe while doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC. I personally have decided to adopt these tactics while rolling to keep myself safe and others. I would say it is common knowledge for many who have been doing this for a while, but anyone new to the sport must realize each gym is different. The biggest takeaway from this post is simply being mindful of your space while on the mats. Having both kids bjj and adult bjj classes that serve the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham, and Cary, keeping students training and safety is our goal here.

Never Quitting

When I first started training BJJ 12 years ago, I wanted to quit. I think most people do. They never tell you that. Some are ashamed of that, but the truth is almost everyone is tempted with that thought. Jiu-jitsu is not easy and when you see how far you have to go to get a black belt, you want to quit. Heck, even a blue belt is a hard accomplishment.

Last month, my student Mariah Bragg entered the adult division of the 2017 Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. This is one of the biggest and most competitive tournaments in world.

Let’s rewind a year ago. Mariah walked into the mat room unaware of what jiu-jitsu was. she seemed determined and that’s all she really needed. She tried a tournament and did well. she earned second place. But then she challenged herself and competed at the 2016 IBJJF Charlotte Open. She lost in her first round. I am more than sure she was tempted with wanting to quit. But she went back on the following Monday, grabbed her note pad, and dove deep into her BJJ thinking palace. The results: well she trained and drilled everyday for 6 months.

She entered her next tournament and submitted all the girls in one division and won the other. She double golded in the famous US grappling tournament. Then, she got bronze in the Pan Ams. Her match to get to the semi-finals was close. In fact she was losing 3-0. Then, she avoided side control and executed a sweep which ended in a full mount. She ended up winning 6-3. This was all in the last 15 seconds by the way.
It was all the Mental practice of not giving up that taught her to find that will power and come from behind. She lost in the semi-final 2-0 to the girl who won the division. We are so proud of her because of her willingness to always fight and learn.

Here are three things we can all learn from Mariah as we train to get better tomorrow:

    1. Never give up!   As cliche as it is, it’s true! Mariah was down mentally and emotionally after her loss at the Charlotte Open. She could have gone back to her daily routine and been like “BJJ isn’t for me.” But she didn’t. She went back to the drawing board and set a plan to get her training where she needed to be.
    2. Take Risks!   In one of her matches, she was losing, but she took the risk she needed to win. Life is about taking those risks sometimes. Do the same in BJJ and in life.
    3. Stay Focused!   She stayed determined with her goal. She avoided crappy food, beer and alcohol, and trained on some nights when most people were doing something else. Stay focused with whatever you’re doing. That’s the key to getting where you need to be.


​So there. Simple, but not easy. Here’s the great part. This isn’t limited to just Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a blue print to success in the real world.

Hope this helps. If you are interested in asking me a question I can answer, please contact Team Casarez BJJ today.

Oss and happy training!

Sincerely,
T.C.