There are certain times when you can’t train Jiu-Jitsu in the gym. It may be that you’re on a vacation, too busy to get to class, or the gym is not open every day. Or you could just be in quarantine, as is the case with the current Covid-19 outbreak. When you’re in such a situation, BJJ drills are a great way to practice some BJJ and get a workout in.
The 10 best BJJ drills you can do at home
BJJ drills are a subject that has been beaten to death in Jiu Jitsu. And for a good reason – we need to do more of them! Jiu Jitsu drills should be done every time we train, whether with a partner or in the form of solo drills. In fact, for the latter, you don’t even need to go to the gym. You could easily put together a great Jiu Jitsu workout in the confines of your home. All you need is a soft surface, like a carpet or a yoga mat, and the following 10 best BJJ solo drills:
The hip escape is the most important defensive BJJ movement you can learn. It is applicable in every escape scenario and is something you’ll use at all belt levels. In other words, there’s no more integral movement than the hip escape or ‘shrimp’ as it is sometimes called.
The hip escape can be done in several different ways. One of the most basic BJJ drills is to simply turn to your side while prone on the ground and use your feet to push your hips upwards while extending your arms. Variations include pushing off with just one leg, which can be either the top or bottom one. You could also sit up to escape your hips or even hip escape to the front.
The best thing is that if you’re pressed for space, you can do hip escapes back and forth in place and still get all the benefits of this essential BJJ drill.
Technical stand up
The technical stand up is yet another one of the staple BJJ motions. Unlike the hip escape, though, this one can be used both offensively and defensively. In terms of defense, it can get you on your feet from the ground or help you create space to execute a hip escape. Offensively, the technical stand up helps you with a variety of sweeps and reversals.
The way the technical stand up works is by helping you keep a safe distance when you’re on the bottom. This is done by extending one leg. The other leg should be bent, with the heel next to your butt.
In order to have balance, you want the arm on the opposite side of the bent leg to be palm down on the ground. This creates a diagonal line that will keep you stable when you lift your hip off the ground and retract the extended leg all the way behind you, near the planted palm.
There’s no way you can do BJJ drills and not include a bridging motion. The bridge is the third member of the fundamental defensive BJJ movement triad, along with the hip escape and technical stand up.
Doing a BJJ bridge is easy, and yet, most people do it wrong for years. The motion itself is raising your hips as much as you can off the ground while rolling over one of your shoulders.
The key detail is not using your hips to do the bridge, but rather your hamstrings. Focus on this the next time you bridge and you’ll see how powerful your bridge becomes. Plus, it’ll give you much more of a workout when you’re doing BJJ drills at home.
This is another one of those BJJ drills that are often extremely underestimated. Rocking chairs help with sweeps, reversals, and even guard transitions. Not only that, but they make a great addition to any home BJJ workout.
The rocking chair movement starts with you laying on the ground, You’ll have to activate your core and look to bring your knees towards your shoulder in order to gain momentum. The goal is to swing with your legs while keeping the core contracted so that your torso gets off the ground.
At the same time, one leg goes shin to the mats, in order to provide a surface for you to roll over. The end position should be to combat base, with a pronounced hip extension.
Standing guard opening
Arguably, the most efficient way of opening the closed guard is standing. Standing openings come in many shapes and sizes, yet I usually assign this standard opening for the mandatory BJJ drills in our academy. It has several steps but provides maximum bang for your buck.
For this drill, you start on your knees. One leg goes up in a lunge position while the other leg pivots on the knee so that you place your toes on the ground (as much to the side as possible).
Keeping your posture upright at all times, the goal is to get up into a sumo deadlift-like position by opening the knee of the leg that’s still on the ground. This is the safest way to stand up while in someone’s closed guard. It is also a great drill to add to your workout routine.
Wrestlers do them for hours upon hours, so why wouldn’t we do them in BJJ as well? After all, the double leg is one of the highest percentage takedowns in Jiu Jitsu. Penetration steps usually require space. However, you could do one forward and one back and still get all the benefits of the drill.
In order to do this drill, from standing make a small step forwards with one leg. Then, get your knee as close to the ground as possible, but try not to touch it if you can.
The goal is to do a huge step forward with the opposite side leg, gaining momentum and standing up in the process. The entire motion needs to be explosive, making this one of the toughest BJJ drills to do for a prolonged period of time.
One more wrestling classic and a drill everyone in grappling should do. In wrestling, the sit-out helps get people off your back, while allowing you to recover positions. In BJJ, it helps in a bunch of situations from escaping the turtle, to dealing with front headlocks.
For the sit-out drill, start on all fours. The drill starts when you lift one arm in the air, making space for the opposite side leg to slide through the spot where the arm was. The goal is to extend the leg as far as possible, raising your hips and pulling the arm that’s off the ground backward. From there you return to all fours and repeat on the other side.
Despite what you may think, break falls are not just there so that new students can learn to tumble. They have their use in Jiu Jitsu and are crucial as BJJ drills. Moreover, you can make them more fun and challenging by introducing a balance exercise to go with the break falls themselves.
From standing, you first squat down as low as you can, curve yourself in a ball, and then put your butt to the ground, allowing your body to follow the curve of your spine.
Your head should not touch the floor and your arms go to the side at a 45-degree angle in order to dissipate the force of the fall. When coming back up, rock yourself like in the rocking chair motion, but stand up in a pistol squat, rather than just a regular squat. That will get your blood pumping!
Sprawling is one of the things BJJ folks take for granted and learn wrong from the get-go. Luckily it is an easy enough motion to re-learn. But why not be smart about sprawls and learn how to do them correctly from the start?
For this BJJ drill, remember that your hips need to go back. It is not a burpee, where you squat down. Imagine someone trying to double leg you, and you have to throw your hips backward, in order to fend off the takedown.
The part most people get wrong is sprawling with two legs parallel. Instead, turn your hips so that one leg is heavier than the other. This is how wrestlers sprawl to make themselves really heavy. Moreover, if you alternate, you get to train both sides when doing sprawling BJJ drills!
The Granby is one of those BJJ drills that look fancy and can be really tough to master at first. However, it is essential to learn how to Granby roll if you’re to have any hope of developing a respectable guard retention system.
The Granby can be done in many ways, but the easiest is to start sitting on the ground with your legs extended. Try to touch your ankles with your arms, bending your body towards the legs. The idea is to roll sideways, onto one shoulder, and then the other, while the arms and legs keep pointing in the same direction at all times. The key detail is rolling shoulder to shoulder and not over your neck.
When should you avoid going to the gym and workout at home
Drilling can be really fun if you organize it in a way that’s interesting to you. When organizing the top 10 BJJ drills into a routine you have plenty of options. You can go for reps or set a time for each drill.
In terms of the order, you can go and finish all sets on each of the exercises before moving on, or do them as a circuit. These are just a couple of examples of how to organize your home BJJ workout; feel free to add, subtract, or otherwise modify these to fit your goals and space.
The time for doing workouts like this at home is, well, anytime you’re not in the gym. Sometimes you might be traveling, or a BJJ gym’s schedule might not work as often as you’d like. There are also situations like outbreaks, sometimes of common stuff like ringworm, and other less common but more serious ones like the Covid-19 pandemic we’re currently facing.
In a situation where human contact is discouraged and social distancing is recommended, BJJ drills are just about the only way to actually train Jiu Jitsu without a partner. Even if your gym is open contrary to recommendations, stay safe by staying at home. A couple of weeks of these drills will only make both your Jiu Jitsu and your cardio much better.
Grappling arts work best when you put your drill time in. BJJ drills can often be boring, but only if you do them in a boring way. Organize a routine that’ll challenge you, and keep switching things up. With the 10 BJJ drills listed above, you’ll be able to do fun workouts every day until it is safe to go back to the gym!