This article was written by 3rd-Degree Roger Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Nicolas Gregoriades.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a technology of self-expression which requires the synergistic performance of both body and mind. To unlock a large amount of your potential as a jiu-jitsoka you need to keep both these aspects of yourself functioning fluidly and efficiently. In this article, I will focus on the physical side of this equation. Although some of us are blessed with stronger, more flexible and or more athletic bodies, all of us have latent physical potential which we can access through better knowledge of our bodies.
Ask yourself the following questions about your body:
Do you know exactly where it is weak and where it's strong?
Do you know what foods it runs well on and those it does not?
Do you know how much sleep it needs to function optimally?
Can you sense when you are over-training?
Do you breathe deeply and fully?
Do you have control over your diaphragm?
Do you have a full range of motion in all your joints?
What part of you is most likely to get injured? Why?
Do you know how hard you can contract each of your specific muscle groups?
Which of your muscle groups are too tight and / or overdeveloped?
How to know the answers to all these questions is beyond the scope of this article, but there are a few tips which will help you get to know your body:
Keep a journal for a month.
In it record everything that could have an affect on your training i.e. your nutrition, sleep cycles and all forms of exercise. Note how all these variables make you feel and what you experience when any of them changes. When you review your journal, you will quickly be able to discern what has a positive or negative effect on your body.
Try to be "in" your body as much as you can.
Most people are consumed with thoughts of the future and the past or the hassles in their lives. They are "in" their heads all the time. Whenever you catch yourself being distant, focus your awareness back inside your body. Project your awareness as a spotlight over your toes, then up your feet, shins etc. Pay attention to the sensations and feelings. After some practice, you will become more sensitive to the workings of your skeletal and muscular systems.
Try new sports and activities.
These will quickly reveal to you where you have muscular imbalances or weaknesses. Some examples of activities include Yoga, Rock Climbing and Pilates. If you have never experienced it before and have access to the facilities, I highly recommend that you try a few sessions in a Floatation Tank. The near-weightless suspension of your body and deprivation of your visual and auditory senses will provide you with an acute awareness of the sensations within your body. Especially where energy is trapped by tight muscles. And finally, rolling with the eyes closed greatly improves your knowledge of your body.