View Full Version : (How) Do Warm-Ups?

3/31/2014 4:20pm,
I wasn't sure what subforum to post this in, since it sorta pertains to all martial arts (and learning skills in general); I decided to go for YMAS for the universal appeal, though I am hoping for an at least partially serious discussion.

As the name of the thread may have clued you in, I've recently got to thinking a lot about warm-ups. The reason this has been on my mind is that for the last few weeks, we have had a "guest coach" who teaches class once a week. This guest coach goes by Martin Lavin, a brown belt, multiple gold medalist in the European IBJJF Championships who my coach introduced as "one of the best grapplers in Sweden". The classes I've had with him so far have been fun, and intensely educational; I have no reason to doubt his credentials. What stuck out to me about the way he runs classes right from the get-go, as you may have guessed, has to do with how he handles warm-ups.

To offer perspective, I'll give you a brief overview of how my main coach typically handles things. It's rather typical BJJ fare for the most part; running, rolling, shrimping, the works. After 5-10 minutes of this, we'll drill single legs up and down the mats, do some "lift your partner up, walk a few steps, but him down, repeat" type drills and eventually drill guard passing or something similar. After this 15-20 minute chunk of the class is over and done with, we'll start with some particular techniques and the class just sort of goes from there. The big upside to this, besides improved cardio and all that, is that a lot of this stuff becomes muscle memory very quickly, to the point that even panicking newbies with a month of classes under their belts will still shoot for that single in the stand-up. The transition from warm-ups to the regular class is usually seamless, utilizing different "cut-off points". For instance, we might follow the single-leg drills with drilling Seoi Otoshi (if my Judo terminology is up to snuff) and then spend the rest of the class working stand-up stuff.

Mr. Lavin, on the other hand, dispenses with warm-ups almost (if not actually) completely. Once the clock hits 6 PM, he might clap his hands once and go "Alright, let's get started," and he gets right to talking about what we're gonna be working on this class. He actually gave a reason to this at the beginning of today's class, saying that conditioning drills and running and so on are things that we can do on our free time, and he wants to give us as much "bang for our buck" as possible by allowing us to work on the specific elements of the sport for the entire class. This aside, I am a *very* big fan of how the guy teaches classes; the closest analogy I can give you to describe the approach is like peeling the layers of an onion in reverse.

Today's class, as a perfect example, looked roughly like this:
1. Martin shows how to move around when standing and your opponent is looking to play sitting guard, going into a fairly deep squat and momentarily posting his hands out on his opponent as he draws near. We drill this in pairs, where one guy tries to lock the other into any kind of guard and the other utilizes this movement.

2. He goes over how to deal with getting caught in what he called a "long-distance guard", such as spider guard, De La Riva and so on. We continue the same drill as at step 1, only now using the escapes that he showed us, should we end up in guard.

3. He shows how to properly shrimp and reestablish guard should we get passed into side control or knee on belly. Back to the drill, with this in mind.

4. He shows a few ways to deal with getting caught in open half guard. Same drill, starting from this position; bottom guy wants to sweep, top guy wants to pass.

5. Positional sparring, starting from a few different guards; same principle as above.

6. Free sparring, with the condition that one in the pair start from the sitting position and the other is standing.

7. Shake hands with your training partners and go home.

It might sound dull, but it's fantastic as a noob to get this firmly planted in the back of your head. Despite the lack of the warm-up/conditioning business preceding most BJJ classes, the 80-100% resisting drilling/sparring throughout the class means it gasses most guys out more than the regular classes.

The purpose of this rambling post is to ask what is, honestly, a simple question; are warm-ups important? Is either of these approaches straight-out superior to the other, or do they have pros and cons that deserve to be evaluated for their own merits? I'm especially curious to hear from you coaches/instructors out there, and what you like to do for your classes and why. Peace!

TL;DR: Long BJJ warm-ups; poo or good?

3/31/2014 5:43pm,
We cover this topic every so often on here. Both sides make good points.
Personally I am in the camp of less time conditioning more time drilling and rolling.
Basically for the reasons the one instructor stated.

3/31/2014 8:52pm,
I'm also of the don't spend class time on conditioning camp. I do plenty of it on my own. Rather use mat time for drilling and rolling.

Different strokes for different folks though.

3/31/2014 9:06pm,
It sounds like you have two really good instructors that have different approaches and have probably thought this through and just made a judgement call. Without controlled studies some questions can't be answered. I always found the difference between martial arts classes and high school sports interesting. The coach in HS has so much more time and is responsible for conditioning, coaching, and training. A night class typically has much tighter time restraints. No answer here just thoughts.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

4/01/2014 9:06am,
I like conditioning in warmups, but I'm a lazy fucker and I find it easier to exercise in a group.

Also, many people join Martial Arts classes hoping to get fit, gotta give the customers what they want.

4/02/2014 8:24pm,
I like to get warmed up enough to not injure myself (be it through drills or whatever... we mostly do break falls and uchikomi for warmups at my Judo club) and then move on to focus on a particular technique and then have time for free rolling/randori/sparring. But I also spend a few days a week doing strength and conditioning on my own.

4/02/2014 8:27pm,
At the very best BJJ school I have been to it works like this.
In the beginners classes at night they do a full conditioning type warm up.
In the Morning classes that are geared towards the competition team they do a very light warm up.
Both sets of classes are taught by the Same black belt that owns the school.

4/02/2014 10:44pm,
I teach a morning class, and stick to a fairly light warm up. This is always followed by technique of the day style drills. This week we are covering the bullfighter/torreada/torreando pass. So we did two different bullfighter pass type drills, 25 reps each, right after the warm up.

Most students with more than a year's experience hit a flow at some point during these drills. That's always nice to see.

Drills done at a high repetition rate are effective warm ups in my opinion. If they pertain to the lesson of the day, you will help most students retention of the material, especially if it's the subject of more than one class.

The old guard from Brazil tended to think that a physically intense warm up forced the student to learn good technique. With their strength sapped from the warm up, they'd have nothing to fall back on besides technique.

I'm not saying this line of thinking is correct. Just explaining their point of view.

4/03/2014 12:26am,
We condition. But we are a fight gym.

It is no good competitively if you are out of shape. 30 seconds into a fight you are going to be rooted. Get used to it.

People also condition outside of class.

Regardless training with resistance requires you to be fit.

4/03/2014 9:49am,
You need enough of a warmup to limit risk of injury, IMO. We only have classes twice a week, too much warmup is a waste of time.

4/03/2014 10:35am,
You need enough of a warmup to limit risk of injury, IMO. We only have classes twice a week, too much warmup is a waste of time.

When I was at a full time dojo we had very tough warmups...but class was two hours and like six times a week, so we could get away with it.

W. Rabbit
4/03/2014 9:41pm,
BJJ warmup for me is currently about 10m of jogging forward, jogging backward, jogging sideways, bearcrawls, crabwalks, shrimping, bridging, breakfalls, standups, pushups, planks, leg circles. This is for a 60 minute class, and I think it's pretty useful considering the warmup includes actual techniques, and it's timed so you have to learn to keep pace.

Hung Ga warmup is 10m isometrics to warm up the muscles and sinews a bit, then 20m on 18 basic drills (stancework, footwork drills, striking drills, combinations), for a 2 hour practice.

Any kind of good shadowboxing you can learn is a great part of a warmup.

4/03/2014 9:56pm,
BJJ warmup for me is currently about 10m of jogging forward, jogging backward, jogging sideways, bearcrawls, crabwalks, shrimping, bridging, breakfalls, standups, pushups, planks, leg circles. This is for a 60 minute class, and I think it's pretty useful considering the warmup includes actual techniques, and it's timed so you have to learn to keep pace.

Don't forget forward rolls that I always mess up. Always. And bearcrawls where you drag someone holding your belt on the ground.

4/03/2014 10:13pm,
one thing I picked up from aikido and judo is simply finding various ways to make guys go from standing, to ground, to standing is about the most efficient way to get the bold flowing. When our aikido class is big I'll have everyone shrimp in place, with and emphasis on transition quickness... good space saver and gets ya warm as well.

4/04/2014 7:40am,
Our wdenesday is five minutes on a crash mat with a plate doing round the worlds squat an press jump squats etc. Five minutes with a floor to cealing bag running around the room again squats or get ups.
And then five minutes with a medicine ball doing abs. 2 rounds of everything.