Kettlebell Get Ups for MMA and BJJ
Years before I even trained with kettlebells I heard many people professing how good they were for martial arts. But never quite heard any one explaining exactly why they are good for combat sports.
Flash forward to the first time I was taught the Turkish Get Up! First thing that came to my mind was, “Oh wow!” it’s almost identical to what’s called the Technical lift in BJJ! About the only difference is, with the technical lift, on the get up part, instead of putting the knee on the ground, we bypass that and stand straight to our feet.
The Technical lift (aka: standing up in base or the technical stand up) is a mandatory movement that any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioner or MMA fighter should master. It is the proper way to stand up when someone knocks you down in a street fight or MMA fight. Also, it has a ton of direct applications in BJJ sweeps and transitions.
Other than martial arts applications, the Turkish Get Up has numerous benefits. I honestly feel that it is one of the best full body exercises you can do. I personally prefer to add a press and drive thru my elbow which targets your chest and back. When you do this, it makes the TGU more challenging because you are utilizing more muscles.
Also, I do not favor doing max reps of a TGU with a ton of weight. In the course of a BJJ match, I personally utilize the TGU or Technical lift movement numerous times. So, I make my get up training closer to that. I prefer to train an alternating Turkish get up for 2-minute rounds to get a full body workout. This also makes it highly anaerobic the same as combat sports. You can get a deeper look into my Turkish Get Up training methods in my one-month Ultimate program.
Check out the attached video in which I demonstrate a Turkish get up and a Brazilian get up. The video also demonstrates a few direct applications to BJJ and MMA. Enjoy!
Kettlebell Workout using nontraditional exercises
The Kettlebell is the most diverse training tool in existence in my opinion. I always tell people the only limit is your imagination when it comes to kettlebell training. When I started my KB training close to 10 years ago, I was really excited about these new movements that I was learning. I had never done a kettlebell swing, snatch or Turkish Get Up before then. But to my dismay, after learning the KB basics, the exercises did not expand past that. I wanted more. I researched KB training and could not find anything other than the same exercises rehashed over and over. Then one day, when I was living in my gym. A light bulb popped up in my head. I thought to myself, I bet I could incorporate KB with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So, I jumped on the mat, grabbed a kettlebell and the first move I worked on is the rocking chair! That was the beginnings of Kettlejitsu. Since then, I have continuously developed a lot of other nontraditional exercises and workouts using Kettlebell.
In my previous 2 articles that I have written for the Kettlebell Kings Blog, I used kettlebell flows using more or less traditional exercises. In this one we will be using mostly sports specific MMA/BJJ inspired exercises. Keep in mind, that just because these exercises are influenced by Martial Arts, does not mean that they are inclusive to combat athletes. Anyone can enjoy these exercises. But they are a bit advanced so be sure to have your KB basics down. In this workout, we will be using what I call Anaerobic Pyramid Conditioning (APC). This means it’s a series of movements combined to create an anaerobic breathing effect which is what you will experience if you were in an MMA or BJJ fight. These exercises are combined in what I call a pyramid. So we will perform 5 reps of each exercise, 10 reps and then back down to 5 to complete the pyramid. This is the protocol that I focus on in my new KB Strength and Conditioning download. Let me break down the exercises for you.
1. The KB rocking chair to a press. Like I said this is the first exercise that I developed. This was taught to me by my BJJ Master Roger Machado. It is a movement found in a lot of different BJJ techniques and transitions. It can be performed using body weight only or with KB. Excellent movement for hip/ knee mobility and core strength. By adding a kettlebell and a press, you are incorporating multiple muscles at once. You will be working your upper chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders and your core simultaneously. Plus, you will feel like a ninja afterwards!
2. Deck squats. These are like squats on steroids. By rolling from your back all the way to your feet, you incorporate a lot of different muscles. Particularly, your core. There is a lot of getting up off your back to your feet in MMA and BJJ so this one helps tremendously.
3. Corner to corner rows. In BJJ we do a lot of pulling from this position. So, I feel it’s important to incorporate a lot of different row variations in my workouts.
4. The fighters figure 8. This was also one of the first exercises I developed when embarking on my Kettlejitsu journey. I wanted to incorporate punching to the best of my ability. This one mimics the punching movement of a hooking type punch. It also addresses pivoting and torque. You will feel this exercise in your upper body and your core simultaneously.
So please keep in mind. Before getting to the main workout, you must warm up first! The way I teach, that means plenty of body weight first. Then, we practice each individual kettlebell exercise for 30 second intervals with a 10 second rest. Once you drill each exercise for several rounds, then you can wrap it up with the final kettlebell pyramid.
-rocking chair 5x
-deck squats 5x
-corner to corner rows 5x
-fighters figure 8 5x
Repeat each exercise for 10 repetitions then back down to 5 to complete the pyramid.
Check out the video include in this article to get a better idea of the movements in this workout. I also include some footage of me using this workout with my Kettlejitsu boot camp at Legacy Los Angeles. Have fun and train safe!
Variety: The Importance of it for Trainers and Instructors!
When first opened my gym, SoCal MMA 10 years ago, I had 2 black belts, boxing experienced and I was a veteran of professional MMA. Plus, as a kid, I religiously followed body building. So, I felt I had a pretty good fitness repertoire. At SoCal, I taught all of the classes in the beginning. I taught an MMA class, BJJ and a female boot camp class. In all of those classes I utilized workouts that included exercises and movements from all of the arts I trained in. Including animal style movements that have existed in BJJ forever. After a couple of months, my very first female student, Lety, turned to me and said, “Can we do something different? We did this the other day.” I was in shock! But this is what you deal with when you have clients that pay a monthly fee to train at your gym. You have to be attentive towards their needs. This is what caused me to start researching other fitness programs. In an attempt to add variety and attract clients, one of my business partners suggested hiring a kettlebell trainer. I was for it! I knew very little about kettlebells. But I knew enough to know that I needed instruction with them. My partner did the research and found a certified Russian kettlebell trainer to teach once a week at my gym. Since kettlebell training was new to everyone, we enjoyed it. He introduced to us the kettlebell standards, swings, snatches, goblet squats, dead lifts and the Turkish get up. Since these were new exercises, in the beginning, they were exciting and fun. But since the instructor had the traditional Russian kettlebell mindset that you only those few exercises, our clients and myself became bored and uninspired. I was frustrated because I really enjoyed the kettlebell stuff, but I yearned for more. So, I started researching other kettlebell organizations. To my dismay, there was little variety available. This forced me to start innovating my kettlebell and body weight program. I felt every kettlebell workout lacked full body movements. They were more like core and leg workouts. So, I started adding more exercises to hit more muscle groups. I realized how versatile kettlebells and body weight were! I incorporated movements from BJJ and other arts which gave birth to my Kettlejitsu program.
Kettlebell and body weight add more variety than any other 2 training tools in my opinion. I started teaching my new methods to my classes and they loved it! My clients became content and consistent and classes grew. Since then I have maintained my Kettlejitsu boot camps for close to 10 years now. It was also key in helping earn a living from doing what I love to do. Your clients will appreciate variety. If you teach the same thing over and over, I guarantee you it will be difficult to retain students. You have to remember when someone is paying you their hard-earned coin to train with you, you owe it to them to give the best possible training available. This is why I am constantly evolving and learning. I watch and study. I learn from everywhere. I even learn from my students! The key to innovation is to keep an open mind.
These concepts can be applied to martial arts as well. Can you imagine a Martial Arts instructor that only taught 10 moves? It would be pretty boring. One of the main keys to client retention is variety. Have you ever heard the saying, “variety is the spice of life?” I truly believe that! Stay on your toes, be attentive towards your students and add variety to your workouts on the daily. Use these concepts if you have intention on making a living as a trainer! Check out this video that displays some of the variety in my Kettlejitsu programs. Enjoy!
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H2H Intermediate Kettlebell Flow
This is part 2 of my 3 articles on kettlebell training for combat sports exclusively for my sponsors the Kettlebell kings. In this article, we are covering what I call an H2H or hand to hand kettlebell flow. This particular flow is for intermediate level KB practitioners for 2 reasons. 1. It involves the overhead squat and high pull which require a bit of practice. 2. H2H means we will be passing the kettlebell from our left hand to right hand for the duration of this flow. This requires focus, timing and coordination.
This kettlebell flow contains one of my favorite kettlebell exercises, the high pull. When I was first taught this exercise, I immediately thought to myself “this is like throwing a punch.” I immediately attributed it to a punch we call a overhand right in MMA or Boxing. But to my dismay, we only worked it a few times. Most traditional kettlebell trainers teach the high pull as a precursor to the snatch. Which for a lot of people, is the be all and end all of kettlebell training. Although I do enjoy snatches, I feel the high pull is equally important. Maybe even more so. Reason being, if you work the high pull the way I do, then your hinging, pushing and pulling all in one explosive movement. That means your working your core, chest, back, shoulders biceps, triceps and forearm at once. I am including a video tutorial of how I do a high pull. So check it out to see what im talking about. High pulls are also help with hand speed and punching power. Its like throwing punches with a kettlebell! Try shadow boxing after a few sets of high pulls and see how fast your hands are!
In the previous article I talked about the many attributes needed in combat sports and how kettlebell flows help. One I didn’t touch on is focus. Your mind has to be razor sharp in the ring or cage. Even when you are in the later rounds and you are exhausted you have to have the ability to keep your composure and focus. One mental lapse and it can cause you the fight. Kettlebell flows address this issue. After a few rounds of this flow you will tire and it will increasingly get difficult to keep the flow consistent. It forces you to focus.
Here is the workout. We will keep the protocol the same as the workout in the previous article. In all of my workouts protocol is as follows:
1. mobility and core warm up
2. Ab pyramid (abdominal work)
3. B.I.T. Body weight interval training
4. C.I.T. Compound body weight training.
5. K.I.T. Kettlebell interval training
6. Kettlebell circuit
The kettlebell circuit is as follows: 2-minute round. 1 minute kettlebell flow, 30 seconds of rows and 30 seconds of burpees. I would suggest practicing each exercise that makes up the flow individually. This is what I call K.I.T. or kettlebell interval training. I usually do 30 seconds of work with a 10 second break between each set. Example: 30 seconds of overhead squats on the left 30 seconds of overhead squats on the right, 30 seconds high pulls on the left and so forth. Then try the flow using a lighter bell until you get used to the sequence. You can upgrade the weight of your bell for however you see fit.
There you have it! Intermediate H2H Kettlebell flow for combat sports and fitness! Stay tuned for part 3 of this series!
How to do a Kettlebell Flow
Close to 10 years ago, I went to go purchase some kettlebells from an old company called My Mad Methods. MMM was located inside of a gym called MBody Strength owned by Marcus Martinez and Mark de Grasse. I met Mark while I was there and asked him if he would take a look at a specific kettlebell program that I had been developing with my students at my former gym SoCal MMA. Mark agreed to. So I proceeded to show some of the kettlebell movements and flows I had developed and his eyes lit up! He said, “would you mind if I filmed these.” I agreed. Within a few minutes Mark looked at me and said, “we need to do a DVD.” I was blown away! I just wanted to see what he thought of the exercises I had developed. I wasn’t expecting to land a DVD deal! This led to his company My Mad Methods producing my first 2 DVDs. Combat Kettlebell Systems was the first. The CKS DVD was the first of its kind to showcase newly developed kettlebell movements and principles taken directly from MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The DVD sold in 30 countries worldwide. I released another DVD dedicated to body weight training called Shadow Jitsu. Then, MMM produced other DVDs from John Wolf and Mark de Grasse. My Mad Methods created such a buzz that it gained the attention of a little nutritional supplement company called Onnit. They purchased MMM (along with my DVDs and articles) and brought in Mark de Grasse to create the Onnit Academy.above left to right, Mark de Grasse, John wolf and myself
In the beginning nobody had seen movement added to kettlebell training. Nobody had seen kettlebell flows and it wasn’t 100% accepted in the kettlebell community. Now, Instagram and other social media have people taking stabs at kettlebell flows and what not. So called kettlebell experts are now crawling out of the wood work with kb workouts for BJJ and MMA. But, there is a huge difference between me and them. Most of these guys just create workouts so that they can upload it to YouTube and I.G. to get hits. These people have never been in the cage while somebody has you on the ground dropping elbows on your face. These people have never had their hand raised in victory in front of thousands of people. Any workout that I post, have been used by me and my students for the last 10 years. I trained a team of MMA/BJJ athletes and regular everyday people at my old gym and now at Legacy BJJ Burbank for close to a decade. These aren’t just workouts I come up with in my living room and throw up on YouTube. Also keep in mind that my YouTube videos are not made to be actual instructional in nature. They are just mere examples of what I do. There are a lot of details that you may be missing if you do not understand the concepts. So I am proud to announce, that Kettle-Jitsu and kettlebell giants the Kettlebell Kings will be working together to educate people and give everyone a better understanding of Kettlebell training for combat athletes.
This is the first of a 3-part series dedicated to Kettlebell training for BJJ and MMA. Let’s discuss the Kettlebell flow. To understand Fighting, you must know that combat sports are anaerobic in nature. This means its closer to running sprints than to going for a long distance jog. Fighting involves multiple muscles at once. A typical BJJ/MMA match involves, pushing, pulling, core work and leg work. Anaerobic training involves short burst of energy, followed by a brief lull in movement. This is how I like to structure my kettlebell workouts.
I have kettlebell flows broken down in 4 different categories.
1. 2 handed single kettlebell flows
2. 1 handed alternating single kettlebell flows
3. Combo flows mixing 1 and 2 together
4. Double kettlebell flows
The enclosed video is an example of #1 and is my most basic Kettlebell flow. It involves a 2 handed clean. This covers our pulling and leg work, 2 handed overhead press (pushing movement), and a 2 handed swing (hinging, core movement). The protocol I use for this is what I call 2 minute Kettlebell circuit. Perform a 2 handed clean and press twice, 2 handed swing twice and a swing to catch once for one minute straight. Followed by ballistic rows for 30 seconds. Burpees make up the final 30 seconds of the 2-minute circuit. Please keep in mind that in my classes, we always start with body weight and mobility before we get into the kb work. This insures that everyone is thoroughly warmed up. Here is a typical Kettlejitsu class format I use
1. mobility and core warm up
2. Ab pyramid (abdominal work)
3. B.I.T. Body weight interval training
4. C.I.T. Compound body weight training.
5. K.I.T. Kettlebell interval training
6. Kettlebell circuit
I hope this gives a better understanding of how and why I developed kettlebell flows. They are an amazing way to train kettlebells and give you a full body workout, help burn muscle, enhance coordination and focus all at once!
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The Truth About Mobility
Mobility is the ability to move freely and easily. So throughout the day, if you have pain during some of your daily activities, it could be a mobility issue. Fortunately, a lot of those issues can be corrected through mobility exercises. Since I teach large group classes and have been for the last 10 years, I have narrowed down the most common areas that people lack the most mobility in. These are the neck, shoulders, back, hips and knees.
So, how much time daily do I need to spend on mobility? The first 10 minutes of any of my Kettlejitsu boot camps is all mobility. During that time, I cover all of the aforementioned areas where people lack the most mobility. This is the format I have been following and anyone who has consistently attended my classes has enhanced their mobility tenfold. If you teach large boot camps on a regular basis, spending any more time than that on mobility is a waste of time. From my experience, your average person has about 3 hours a week of free time to exercise. If you spend the majority of that time doing joint mobility, you are not giving your clients what they want. People sign up at a gym or boot camp to sweat and get results. You cannot lose weight or tone up from doing mobility for an hour. Quite frankly you don’t need an hour of mobility. I have trained in martial arts for over 30 years now. I even played football and baseball in high school. I had my first Tae Kwon Do match at the age of 9 two weeks after I joined. I literally had dozens of TKD fights, 15 pro mma fights and easily over 100 BJJ matches. At 45 years old, I am more mobile and flexible than the majority of these so called mobility experts.
Another great thing about mobility is that you do not need any extra equipment to do it. You can address all of your mobility needs through body weight only exercises. There has been no scientific evidence that has proven that adding any implement to joint mobility exercises makes a difference. People who say otherwise are misinformed or they are just trying to sell you some B.S.
So to wrap things up, mobility is very important. Focus on some specific mobility exercises for about ten minutes before each workout and that should be sufficient. Enclosed are some links to videos that show some of the mobility I work with my students on a daily basis. These mobility warm ups can be found on all of my downloads as well. Enjoy! Click here to see proven joint mobility exercises in a live group class! Kettlejitsu Mobility Instagram
KB Strength and Conditioning, 2 Month Intensive Kettlebell, Body Weight and Nutrition Program
The KB Strength and conditioning program is something I have been working on for some time now. While training my group classes at Legacy Burbank, I have experimented with different protocols and the combination of specific kettlebell and body weight exercises that would optimize fat loss and muscle gains. Ask yourself, which exercises do elite athletes, crossfitters and MMA fighters use to gain strength, power and muscle? Cleans, dead lifts, overhead snatches, rows, presses, and burpees are staples of their routines. These exercises are usually performed with barbells though. But guess what? You can do all of these exercises just as effectively, but a lot safer and add more variety with kettlebells. Safer because barbells put you at an awkward mechanical disadvantage. Kettlebells allow for a lot more natural and fluid movement. One of the focal points of this program is emphasis on the dead snatch. This is always been my snatch variation of choice. More so than the traditional snatch using the hip hinge. Why, the dead snatch works a lot more muscles at once. It hits almost all major muscle groups in one explosive movement. In this program I cover 4 different snatch variations and combine them with other exercises to give you a full body workout. These type of metabolic workouts are key to rapid fat loss.
Double kettlebell training is the equivalent of barbell training. But as I said earlier, double kb feels a lot more natural. Therefor making it more safe. Double kb is essential for building muscle, power and strength.
Burpees are a staple of fitness classes every where for a reason. They are an awesome full body, fat burning exercises that can be done anywhere. Only problem is, people get bored doing the same burpee variation over and over. So I have included various different burpee variations in this program. This is called muscle confusion.
I admit, the nutrition aspect of this has been the most difficult. If any of you follow me on the various different social media, you would know I am a big foodie! Its so easy to get caught up into that routine of eating out all the time. Especially in L.A. But I was determined! In the KB strength program, I take an eclectic approach to the diet. I utilize various different dieting strategies and principles to burn fat at a rapid pace.
I put myself through this entire program myself! The results were amazing! I went from 170lbs, to 150lbs in 2 months! I went from a size 34 inch waist, to a 32. Ive also made noticeable gains in my upper body and arms. At 45 years old I have never been in better shape! I initially was going to film my body weight 4 BJJ program, but since ive been posting my progress with this program, im getting messaged like crazy asking what ive been doing! So, I started production on this program and it is now available to download in its entirety! . For a limited time the KB strength and conditioning program is only $27.00! Here is a check list of what you will receive when you purchase the program.
-Body weight warm up
-ab pyramid training
-body weight interval training(HIIT)
-Compound body weight training
-Kettlebell Interval training (KIT)
-Kettlebell circuits using my new patented Anaerobic Pyramid Conditioning (APC) method
-the 15 guidelines of rapid fat loss
-Beginner, intermediate, advanced and elite workout calendars
-PDF of all the workouts with complete graphics
-Professionally edited follow along video of all the workouts
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Double Kettlebell workout for BJJ!
Double kettlebell training is the equivalent of doing barbell work. But, with kettlebells it allows for more natural movement and they offer a lot more variety than traditional barbell work. For instance this workout. I flow seamlessly from the ground to my feel with the exercises. Just cant be done with a barbell! Double kettlebells are great for building strength and power. In this circuit we work our pushing, pulling, squatting and core all with one simple circuit. Keep in mind that this is our pyramid finisher in this video. Before the workout in this video, we worked mobility, abs, body weight training and our kb interval training. We wrapped it up with this pyramid in this video! Remember 5 reps of each exercise, 10 and then back down to five. If your feeling your oats, go all the way up to 15 and back down. Just make sure you warm up first! If you follow the format in my downloads, you should be good to go! Enjoy!
Get the Ultimate TGU on sale now for only $17! as seen in the latest issue of Jiu JItsu magazine! Click the above banner or this link!Ultimate Turkish Get Up Program download Or, get Save $$$$ and purchase the Kettle-Jitsu Revolution 8 week program and Ultimate TGU together for only $47!!! Click the below banner or this link to save! Kj revolution/Ultimate TGU combo!Turkish Get Ups are one of the initial exercises that I knew had a direct connection to MMA and Bjj. The mechanics of the TGU are almost identical to a movement in BJJ called, Standing up in base or the Technical lift. The TGU is the best kettlebell exercise for BJJ for 3 reasons. 1. You work your pushing, pulling, squatting/lunging movements all in one exercise. 2. it has numerous applications in actual BJJ techniques. 3. It works motor skills we are not accustomed to doing in every day life. Therefor it enhances your coordination. Most traditional Bjj dojos practice this via body weight on a daily basis. Standing up in base has many applications in jiu jitsu. It has also evolved into a movement necessary for the “scrambling aspect” of Mixed Martial Arts. Scrambling is the art of regaining the standing position in an MMA fight. If you are not good at scrambling, then you will have a shot career in MMA. So, drilling the mechanics of Standing up in base is a must. In the enclosed video, I have several variations of the TGU and Brazilian get up and some applications with a partner. Implement these into your mma and kb training and you will experience tremendous gains! Be sure to check out Joey Alvarado’s article on the Turkish Get Up in the latest issue of Jiu Jitsu Magazine!