Cardio VS Strength in Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ)

Which is more effective for a BJJ practitioner to have, Strength or Cardio?

This is a great question, and surprisingly this is a question that comes up a lot in my academy . Now, lets take an overall look at BJJ. BJJ is a sport that is for the “little guy”, it is about technique, and when one gets tired in a BJJ match they start to slip up and get catch in things. Cardio is a GREAT asset to BJJ fundamentally, if you can outlast your opponent you can catch them when they are not paying attention, or are so tired they can not defend what you attack them with. One of the best ways to have an advantage over your opponent is to out last them. That alone is a HUGE advantage, and even if your talent/skill level is not that high, if you out last an opponent who is of a better skill level you have a greater chance of catching them if they are tired.

Now strength is NOT at all a disadvantage, whatsoever, it is an asset! Believe me, going up against someone who is stronger than you can be extremely hard, but if strength is all your opponent has and they have no cardio, it is your job, as said above, to out last them and out technique them. When I am in situations like this with stronger opponents I automatically know I have to switch up my game plan. I have to get dominate position on them, and make them work until I start to feel that they are beginning to gas out, and when I can determine that, that is when I go in for the submission. That is my strategy for going up against stronger opponents. Because when you are a bigger guy, or are all strength/ beginner, that is what you relay heavily on. Everyone knows those big guys on there first day of rolling try to pull everyones heads off… but they get countered easily and get tired quickly, its because of all their thrashing, pushing, and pulling, it wastes energy. It would be a lot easier if they just relaxed, flowed and moved when they needed to move , but everyone has to learn the hard way in the beginning haha. Everyone goes through the white belt stage, and we all know what I’m talking about.

Okay, but what about strength PLUS great cardio, this I tell you is a trump card. I’ve gone up against some people who have AMAZING cardio and strength, which made them extremely deadly opponents. They outlasted me cardio wise and out muscled me. Prime example Dan Root, he was one of the BEST opponents I’ve ever faced, I learned a lot from that match this year at the GOOD FIGHT this summer. I have good cardio and I’m pretty strong, but let me tell you… he had AMAZING cardio and strength, it was ridiculous, along with his strength and his skill level, it was a wrap. So if you can have both strength and cardio and blend them together, you will surely have an even greater advantage over you opponent.

If you have great cardio thats a good start, it give you the advantage of getting tired less easily and give you the ability to outlast your opponent. Where as just strength can make you more tire because you are struggling and pushing and pulling. But if you know how to conserve your strength and use it wisely that is a different story. So, in my opinion, cardio is always going to be your bread and butter, it doesn’t matter how strong,weak,  or how big or small you are, you have to have cardio. BJJ is for the “little guy”, and being able to outlast you opponent makes a huge difference. A black belt can become a white belt when tired, they are more prone to getting caught. Strength is an asset, it will not hurt you, it can only help you in addition to you cardio. So work on both and believe me you will be a beast!

If you have any other information you would like to add, or your own opinion on the subject feel free to add your thoughts!

Brandon Groce

Brandon Groce

Cofounder at RONIN
Creating design without limits. DC/Maryland Artist & graphic designer at RONIN A BJJ practitioner. Tech Entrepreneur.
Brandon Groce
Brandon Groce

Join Our Newsletter

Join the martial arts community who get free and fresh content delivered automatically each time we publish.