BJJ is a sport that draws from many different martial arts. As a result, there are many Sports that Aid BJJ contributing their techniques and aspects which can help in your BJJ progression. Because of its broad skill base, it can be easy to overlook the nuances of takedowns, submissions and general technique applied in Bjj. Whilst it may not be realistic to train numerous sports at the same time, it can certainly help to study core aspects of those sports. When studied in small increments, these minor changes in technique can evolve into major advantages moving forward.
Sports that Aid BJJ
Perhaps the most obvious sport to begin with considering the many parallels with Bjj. The most striking similarity is the presence of submissions in both sports. Judo submissions are limited compared to Bjj. Although this limits options, it may result in Judo students having more approaches to the submission than a Bjj student. Specifically, Judo submissions focus primarily on the elbow joint (arm lock, kimura) and chokes using only the collar (bow and arrow, x choke). Spending time training with a Judo athlete may open up more options for setting up these subs.
Another transferable skill from Judo is the throwing opponents. A core tenet of Judo is using your opponent’s momentum against them. These allows much smaller athletes to throw much larger opponents with ease. Of course much time and effort goes into honing the execution of such throws but skill would certainly not be useless in Bjj. Many high level Judo athletes transition into Bjj after achieving high honors in their field. The understanding of momentum and leverage is always apparent from these athletes and training with them exposes flaws in some Bjj techniques.
Gymnastics could be considered beneficial for all sports. The core of gymnastics revolves around total control over your body. This is made up of both strength and flexibility. Strength in Bjj allows you to roll for longer and to hold position for longer. Although technique is always favored over strength, some level of strength is always required. Holding somebody in your guard or struggling against them on your feet can be extremely tiring but having an underlying level of strength can really play into your hands.
As for flexibility, this is a subject all too familiar with many Bjj students. Flexibility is key all over your body but especially in your shoulders, hips, glutes and hamstrings. Although many gymnasts make me wince with their flexibility routines, the benefit they derive from it is something that is hugely beneficial to Bjj. Flexibility not only adds greater mobility and attacking options, it also reduces risk of injury.
Wrestling has become increasingly essential in Bjj in recent years. A single-leg takedown is a basic technique taught to many white belts. Knowing how to effectively implement these techniques is valuable but understanding how to defend them is just as important. Having a basic knowledge of wrestling enables you to use it both offensively and defensively either on the feet on in a scramble.
The power aspect of wrestling can be jarring when compared to Bjj but technique is equally important especially when trying to apply pressure and catch your opponent off balance. Training some level of wrestling will certainly improve your capacity for powerful takedowns. Wrestling will also contribute to your understanding of getting your opponent to the ground as well as defending against strong opponents.