How Important Is Stamina In BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most effective martial arts you can learn, and most people have lots of fun during their training sessions. A derivative of Judo, BJJ focuses on ground fighting, particularly using joint locks and chokes to subdue opponents. 

BJJ challenges the conventional idea that a fighter on the bottom is at a disadvantage during ground fighting. BJJ specialists are notorious for being extremely dangerous on their backs, and there are countless submissions they can use to win fights off their backs. BJJ players are also really good at reversing bad positions and sweeping opponents off them. All this leads to what many would say is the most effective one-on-one combat art for self-defense

One of the reason’s why BJJ players perform so well when matched up against other martial artists is the deeply entrenched rolling culture. A typical BJJ class concludes with students sparring with each other – and sometimes their instructors – for 30 minutes or more. This gives them a chance to practice techniques they’ve learned in class against opponents of varying skill levels. This sharpens their techniques, so they are all part of their muscle memory during competitions or if they ever find themselves in a self-defense scenario. 

The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ certainly applies to BJJ and other martial arts that focus heavily on sparring like wrestling or boxing


The Importance Of Stamina For BJJ

There is a myriad of attributes that can help you take your BJJ game to the next level like speed, strength, athleticism, flexibility, balance, timing, stamina, and mental sharpness. Out of all these traits, stamina is arguably the most important. 

This is not something that applies only to BJJ per se. Stamina and endurance are essential to exceed in most martial arts and sports. Your motor skills, coordination, and thinking deteriorate the more tired you become, and feelings of fatigue can lead to you mentally quitting competitions you might have won if you persevered. 

A black belt’s BJJ proficiency will eventually lead to their skills degrading to white belt level if they get tired enough. 

Fortunately, stamina is one of those attributes that most healthy people can easily improve. It’s not like attributes like athleticism which might be restricted by your genetics. You can easily improve your cardio by putting in the work. 

bjj rolling

The best way to improve your grappling stamina is by rolling as much as possible. It’s a great exercise that can lead to you burning up to 1000 calories every hour you spend training, and you’ll be simultaneously improving your BJJ skills. Make it a point to push yourself while you roll. Don’t stop rolling as soon as you start getting tired. Matter of fact, find a fresh training partner to roll with. 

Pushing through fatigue when you roll forces you to rely less on physical attributes like your strength, speed, or explosiveness, and teaches you to focus more on your techniques and conserving energy to get you by. 


Benefits Of Having Good Stamina For BJJ

Working on your stamina brings many rewards that can help you to stand out against your competition. Some of the most obvious benefits of being a BJJ player with strong cardio includes:


1. You progress through the ranks faster

bjj white belt rolling

Having good stamina allows you to train harder during BJJ classes and go longer when it’s time to roll. Over time, this allows you to cover more ground with your training. You might find yourself getting promotions ahead of other students who started training about the same time you did. 


2. Improved fitness

Building up your BJJ stamina requires you to train hard, which leads to significant improvements to your fitness. BJJ provides you with a good full-body workout and an excellent workout for your core muscles. 


3. Stronger resolve

The better fighter doesn’t always win the BJJ match. At times, it simply comes down to who wants it more. People with good endurance are less likely to look for an escape during a tough contest, since fighting through feelings of fatigue is normal for them. 

Those who have not put in the time to work on their cardio often end up looking for a way out when they find themselves feeling tired during a hotly contested match. They might end up doing something silly like giving their opponent their neck, simply because they are fatigued and no longer want to fight. 

Work on your cardio during your training sessions, and you won’t have such thoughts creeping into your mind during competitions or rolling sessions. You might even start to enjoy pushing yourself on the mat. 


4. Improved decision making

As we mentioned earlier, your ability to think clearly is one of the first things to go when you become fatigued during a BJJ match. Improving your stamina makes it easier for you to think when you’re tired and that carries over into other aspects of your life. You might find yourself making better choices when you find yourself dealing with a stressful situation at work or in your personal life. 


5. Can turn you into an elite fighter

alex silva bjj armbar

Grapplers with exceptional cardio often turn it into their superweapon. Such fighters weaponize their cardio by applying pressure on their opponents and forcing them to fight at a pace faster than what they are comfortable with. 

More of a wrestler than a BJJ player, former UFC champion Cain Velazquez was known for using his cardio to break his opponents down in his prime. His stamina was unreal for a man his size, and other heavyweights had a hard time keeping up with him. 

Velazquez would run up to opponents as soon as his fights started and force them to grapple with him for 25-minutes. You could see the expressions on many of his opponents’ faces as they mentally checked out of the fight due to the intense pressure he kept on them. 

Use your stamina as a weapon and force your opponent to fight at a high pace when you know you have better cardio than they do. 


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