3 Tip for Transitioning from Jiu Jitsu to MMA – BJJ Fanatics

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There’s a lot of factors that can go into how difficult or easy it will be for you to make the transition from Jiu Jitsu to MMA.

How long have you been doing Jiu Jitsu? Is Jiu Jitsu the only Martial Art that you’ve done? What kind of style does your gym teach? Are they predominantly Gi, NoGi, or maybe even self defense? But, there are a few common factors that almost everyone should take into consideration.

  1. Jiu Jitsu is NOT MMA.

That seems like it should be self-explanatory, but for a lot of people it’s not. A hold over mentality from the old Gracie days is that Jiu Jitsu is fighting. While some gyms do still train like this, the majority do not. The majority are focused on the modern sport aspect of Jiu Jitsu. 

And even for the few that do focus on the traditional Gracie teachings, the striking is not at the same level. MMA has evolved into its own sport with its own special skills and techniques. To think otherwise would be extremely unwise. Even within Jiu Jitsu there’s an ever widening gap between the Gi and NoGi world. So far in fact, that they’re taught in separate classes in almost all gyms today. MMA should be treated the same.

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That doesn’t mean that none of your Jiu Jitsu will carry over. Obviously, large amounts of it will be applicable. But not all of it, and in order for you to make the transition as smooth as possible it’s important that you remember that you’re learning a new sport and it should be approached with the same eagerness to learn as when you started Jiu Jitsu.

  1. Sparring for MMA is not like sparring for Jiu Jitsu.

Coming from a Jiu Jitsu environment where you can roll hard at the end of every class, people can develop the mind set that they need to go hard on a daily basis. This is not going to work in MMA. Even in a gym where there’s a lot of veteran fighters that know how to properly spar and aren’t blasting you in the head at 100% all the time. Body shots and leg kicks at 100% will add up. You cannot take that kind of damage on a daily basis and expect to stay healthy.

That being said….. you must still spar. Whenever there’s striking involved there will be certain things that you cannot properly develop without sparring. Timing and the ability to read range are on the top of that list. So while you can’t spar at 100% everyday, you must still spar enough to build those skills. Most gyms will have at least two days a week dedicated to sparring. Make sure you attend those.

  1. You still HAVE to drill.

The quickest way to learn a technique is still going to be drilling. This is no different from Jiu Jitsu. If you only practice a guillotine once then expect to just work on it during live rolls, it will take you forever to master that move. If you ever master it at all. In a 5 minute roll you might only get one or two chances to even attempt that move, whereas if you had properly drilled it for 5 minutes you could have already done it 50 times.

In a sport like MMA where, 1. You aren’t sparring on a daily basis anyway and 2. The consequences for mistakes are much higher, drilling is arguably more important than it is in Jiu Jitsu. So don’t waste time, when you learn a new technique make sure that you’re properly drilling it.

As stated at the beginning, there’s a lot of different factors that can go into how easy or difficult your transition is. These are just 3 of the more common issues that people face. As long as you keep them in mind, your transition will go much better than it would if you hadn’t.

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