A Guide To Agility In BJJ

By definition, agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. Furthermore, it also defines the capacity to think and understand quickly, as well.

Agility has always been a defining attribute of exceptional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Without the ability to move quickly and efficiently, even the most highly-skilled thinkers in the sport will be limited against an athlete with the same understanding of competition but is more agile.

However, there is a significant gap between thinkers and agile athletes when a practitioner is particularly good at one and not the other.

For example, a smart practitioner with outstanding knowledge of when and where to move will likely defeat the more agile athlete who does not have the same fundamental understandings of BJJ. Of course, even LeBron James – who is regarded as one of the peak physical athletes in the world – would not stand a chance against any black belt in BJJ.

Agility is especially helpful in being successful with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but it isn’t as important as the mind.

But, if you do want a significant competitive edge over opponents with a similar understanding of the sport, increased agility will help you defeat them over and over.

Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “A Guide To Agility In BJJ”.

Does agility help?

BJJ Cardio

Agility helps you execute your moves and techniques with increased speed and precision. It might mean that you also have improved access to possible techniques that are available, depending on the level of your agility, too. But mainly, you are only capable of executing the moves and techniques that you know and understand anyway.

If you are more agile than your opponent, you’re going to ‘beat him to the punch’ on most occasions.

But, again, the exact nature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does, in fact, limit the advantages that can be gained by the more agile of the two athletes. An experienced practitioner can slow down even the most agile of competitors by using grips and frames. In fact, even the fastest and most explosive of athletes can start to move at a snail-like pace against a capable opponent.

On the other hand, if you are competing or training in No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, improved agility will provide you with much more significant advantages. Without the gi, your opponent is unable to slow you down with grips, and you will likely be able to overwhelm the other competitor with your lightning-fast agility when scrambling.

Agility helps and never hinders, so let’s begin to understand the ways that we can improve our agility.


Physical agility

In regards to the physical side of agility, it encompasses much more than many other sports.

Yes, the quickness and speed of your movements will drastically increase, but so will your body awareness, coordination, and the potential of executing tricky moves and techniques.

For example, a more physically agile athlete might be able to accomplish inversions and standing guard passes that might not be available to less nimble competitors. In many ways, your BJJ toolkit will be significantly expanded as you continue to improve your agility.

Not to mention the noticeable improvements in your speed. If you secure the required grips for a leg drag, you might be able to scoot into the required position before your opponent can prepare and establish his defensive technique. Increased agility might also enable you to slide through to increasingly dominant positions, as well. For example, if you knee slice past an opponent’s guard, instead of settling in half guard or side control, you might be able to keep on speeding through their guard and end up in a better position than a slower-paced competitor.


Mental agility

In addition to physical agility, mental agility can have a similar impact on your capabilities.

For example, if you are a particularly gifted athlete with supreme physical ability, it will have limited benefits if you hesitate when making decisions.

For example, if you are capable of defending against an Imanari roll physically, but get stuck thinking about the correct move when the action is beginning, you will probably end up being swept and lose position.

If you train yourself to read and react to scenarios instantaneously, you will race through the motions. Of course, this is a result of practice and drilling so that your moves become engrained in muscle memory.


Improving agility

One of the best ways to improve your agility is to embark on a quest to drill specific BJJ movements.

Running a 40-meter dash over and over might help you increase your physical ability in that particular field, but it isn’t necessarily the most applicable movement for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. Of course, it will have some minor benefits to other sports, but running a 40-meter dash isn’t going to make you a beastly guard passer in a matter of weeks.

Instead, you should start to blend in functional training either at the start or end of your usual Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu routine. For example, if you attend class early and have some minutes to spare, you can improve your coordination, fluidity, agility, and physical capabilities, by spending time working on specific drills.

In the video below, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Bruno Pucci demonstrates some essential drills.

Not only will you be improving your agility, but you will be practicing relevant movements that will help you in all aspects of your BJJ game.

Furthermore, if you are looking to improve your fluidity or ‘flow,’ you should also consider practicing the movements as demonstrated by Andre Galvao in the below video.

Both of these videos are practical ways to improve your agility and become a better martial artist. It’s also a great way to start small and focus a few minutes of your day either before or after class to complete these drills.

Agility is essential in all aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and improvements to your agility will undoubtedly help you become a better competitor. However, it is important to note that agility only supplements your existing knowledge and understanding of BJJ and is not a substitute for learning techniques as shown by your instructor. After all, BJJ is the sport that will help you defeat bigger, stronger and more athletic opponents.


More in BJJ

Also On Evolve

Targeting The Body In MMA

Targeting The Body In MMA

Long a point of derision for MMA coaches and analysts out there, mixed martial artists just do not pay enough attention to bodywork. In an age where the spectacular is sought after by headhunters and…