Understanding Breathing Exercises For BJJ

Breathing exercises are an excellent partner to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ is a unique martial art as it not only is an excellent form of self-defense, its flowy nature can be seen as therapeutic for many practitioners. BJJ can be as slow or intense as you’d like it to be, and the way you breathe should be carefully monitored so you can get the most out of every training session. 

Breathing exercises are as simple as taking deep breaths and exhaling, but knowing how and when to breathe correctly is incredibly important. 

Today we’ll talk about breathing exercises for BJJ. This will help you get started with the proper techniques for inhaling and exhaling, making it second nature over time.


Benefits Of Breathing Exercises For BJJ

A person meditating

Breathing exercises have a wide range of benefits. For example, they provide an excellent way to relax in the heat of the moment. If you have trained even a day of BJJ, you’d know that grappling against a resisting opponent can be very taxing. Therefore, it is important to control how you breathe as it can directly affect your decision-making and overall state of mind. 

Proper breathing helps you clear your mind and focus on the task at hand. On top of consistent training, breathing exercises should be an essential part of any martial arts routine as it helps the body relax and be in tune with itself.

Breathing techniques can be found in many forms, but breathing exercises specifically are designed to synchronize your breathing with physical movement. 

The first thing that you need to do is to be mindful of the way you breathe. Mindfulness alone can yield immediate benefits; the worst thing you can do when training BJJ is skipping your breathing every couple of seconds. Interestingly, people tend to skip breath when placed in compromising positions. This is especially the case for beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So take note of your breathing when you get stuck in mount or side control — relax, assess the situation, and work on escaping the pin!


A Practical Way To Breathe For BJJ

bjj partner roll

A practical way to improve your breathing technique is to establish that you need to relax before the roll. Being tense during grappling not only limits your performance because you get tired quickly, it also inhibits your decision-making as tension can temporarily cloud a person’s mental state. 

Start the roll with the mindset that your main goal is to work on your techniques for the next hour or two. Always think of training as a tool to sharpen your game, your training partners are not your enemy, and it’s okay to get tapped. Having this mindset erases the negativity that most, if not all, grapplers experience. By doing this consistently in the training room, you can then apply it in more stressful situations like BJJ or MMA competitions.

Another good tip is to look at how you breathe relative to the pace of the training session. Most of the time, if you breathe at a faster rate, you’ll end up gassing quicker since you’re taking in less oxygen. It is then a good idea to partner your breathing pattern based on the intensity of the roll. If you’re the type that loves to use pressure and keep things at a slower pace, you can also slow down your breathing to conserve energy and keep your mind awake for the rest of the round.


Keeping Things Consistent

bjj rolling

The key to becoming an expert in any endeavor is consistent practice. A famous leadership expert, Robin Sharma says that “Consistency is the mother of mastery, and persistence is how you get to legendary.” If you like to keep your breathing in check during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s good and bad days, you must practice this every time you train. 

The great thing about BJJ is you get to train with different bodies, styles, and intensities. Working with varying training partners can help test if you can keep your breathing as consistent as it can be. Try to assess where you tend to break your breathing pattern and deliberately put yourself in that position. Do you tend to panic when you get stuck in the mount? It’s fine! See how your breathing changes when you get pinned. Make sure you get back to your rhythm and react appropriately. Alternatively, you can also test if you need to adjust your breathing pattern by deliberately adjusting it as needed depending on the roll. 

Keeping a consistent breathing pattern is especially important for older grapplers. It is difficult enough to go against the young guys in the gym, so it’s critical to conserve energy for as long as possible. There’s literally no downside to improving your breathing technique. The more you get better at maintaining an optimal breathing pattern, the less you worry about gassing out. This gives you the confidence to focus on your game, and work on the techniques you’ve been drilling for months. 

You might need to adjust your breathing the older you get, understand it’s normal, and adapt accordingly. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what works best for you, so feel free to tailor-fit your technique and improve on it over time.


Final Thoughts

In summary, learning to breathe properly is an essential part of your training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you think about it, there’s a direct correlation between shallow breathing and being tense. Being tense in a dynamic martial art like BJJ is the worst thing as it limits mobility and makes you tired much faster. A consistent and relaxed breathing rhythm helps expand your lung capacity, lower blood pressure, increase mental focus and clarity. Who doesn’t want to be the guy that has impressive cardio, right? Take it slow at first and focus on your breathing every time someone gets a sweep, transition, takedown, or escape. You’ll get better in no time, and it should become second nature after several months. Try it out and let us know how it goes!


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