Cycling For Better Jits


Alright, what do you do when you have a month off of work and all the time in the world to do whatever? Besides more Jiu Jitsu (of course) I picked up on an old/new hobby, biking! Cycling? Not sure which is right but riding around on two wheels has taught me some amazing things that directly affected my grappling game. Of course you benefit from pedaling with stronger legs, that much I expected, but I also noticed two other unexpected benefits.

First off, I learned how my body manages breathing during active states. I used to think the key was controlling my breath and making sure I took measured ins and outs. I gave this a try during one of my early rides and noticed how winded I became, almost gasping for air in a short time. It then occurred to me that my body is intelligent enough to know how much air it needs at any given moment and that by trying to control it myself I was adding a “middle-man” to the equation. It’s not needed, at least in my case. Now if you have a habit of holding your breath during rolls I do suggest you take note and learn to let go, but don’t do any more than that. Try it and see, you’ll notice your breathing will take over for you and you can get back to worrying about everything else, like getting choked slammed by the white belt. 😉

Take it from a guy who has had maybe three cross collar choke submissions in 8 years, it is NOT one of my main weapons. However, in the last two open gyms I had a total that matched my 8-year-high. Yep, three cross collar chokes in two sessions. Could holding onto handlebar grips really increase hand and wrist strength that much? Apparently, and surprisingly so! My bike has the normal grips but also some vertical handles that I use half the time. I’m sure using both have been beneficial in some way. Again, I didn’t consciously try and exercise my grips while riding, I just rode the bike and it happened on its own.

And before I end this short blog (I gotta get back to my X-Files marathon) I WILL talk about leg strength, you just have to when it comes to biking. My legs are far from resembling the tree trunks possessed by Marcelo Garcia, but my leg endurance has gotten insane. I’m able to defend guard, threaten submissions, and squat during guard passing, with much less leg exhaustion. There’s nothing I dislike more than going for a triangle only to have the opponent escape, leaving me with two lactic acid-filled dead weights dangling from my torso. It’s an ongoing struggle but I can already tell, after only a month into this biking experiment, that my game has improved from it. Please leave a comment on how biking has helped, or hasn’t helped, your game. I’m interested in everyone’s results. See ya!




I learn a lot by watching the upper belts roll, especially when they roll with the lower belts.  One thing that hit me recently was that the upper belts rarely sit still when caught in a bad position, unless they are allowing the lower belt to practice on them.  As soon as someone threatens mount or side control there they are all balled up, rolling away, or shrimping like mad.  What drive me crazy is that I know this is what I should be doing as well but something in my mind always concedes defeat.  I remember watching Saulo coach his student and as soon as the opponent went to pass Saulo yelled, “Don’t accept it!”  I need to have a little Saulo in my brain the next time I roll.  I have to remember not to accept bad positions and that, against good opponents, will have to sometimes fight hard to get out.  Coming from the mindset of technique, I always ‘fought against fighting’ out of positions until I watched Rickson’s highlight reel.  Even though he’s the best, he still turned it on when he had to.  I guess I have this magical idea of jiu jitsu being easy if done the right way but it doesn’t mean a lack of effort even at the highest levels.  

I also find that I’m giving things away to my opponents too easily.  Kinda like, “Here’s my collar!” or “Look! my foot is just dangling there.”  I have to remember that everything I give away I’ll eventually have to get back and that just makes too much work for my body and mind to handle.  It’s time for me to get more stingy on the mat, become more Scrooge-like, and only allow opponents to have that for which they fight.  <—proper english? 

Some bright spots.  Got a ton of submissions at the last class mostly due to the fact that we were rotating and I was going up against a lot of lower belts.  One guy got me in a killer half guard from the bottom and I couldn’t get all the way out.  I’ll have to work on that.  Also I got him in a triangle but he clasped his hands together so I couldn’t finish.  And when rolling with a heavy opponent I have to remember not to fall back for closed guard since they’ll just smash me.  Instead believe in my open guard and get to his back.  See ya.