Saturday, 30 May 2009

Kenneth Jay's VO2 Max protocol

The first thing you have to do is to establish at what snatch cadence you come the closest to eliciting your VO2max. This is done by doing an incremental test that lasts no less than 6 minutes. Basically you just start out very slow and for each minute you increase the cadence. When you have get to the 6th minute you go all out snatching as many times as you can without stopping for at least one minute. The test might look like this but is subject to individual differences:

1st minute: 10 reps left arm

2nd minute: 12 reps right arm

3rd minute 15 reps left arm

4th minute: 17 reps right arm

5th minute: 18 reps left arm

6th minute: 26 reps right arm (all out effort)

The 6th minute reflects your VO2max cadence, hence that will be your interval training tempo. It is very important for the protocol that you continued snatching for the entire 6th minute. (make sure afterwards you balance out the numbers of snatches performed on each side so each side get a total equal amount of work).

In this example the VO2max cadence = 26reps

The interval work/rest time is determined to 36 sec. which is 60% of one min.

In those 36 sec. you need to keep your VO2max cadence = 26reps x 60% = approx. 16 reps.

So the setup is as follows:

VO2max/lactate tolerance and buffering:

Work/rest ratio: 1:1 (36 sec of work separated by 36 sec of rest.)

Number of intervals: at least 10 and the goal is to work up to 17+ sets before you test the SSST.

Number of reps per set: 16 (it is very important NOT to go faster or slower. DO NOT speed up to get more rest- it will ruin what you are trying to do.)

If your hands can take it do this at least twice per week. Only substitute with swings if it is really necessary. The program is based on the specific VO2 kinetics of the snatch not the swing.

The program is very taxing and one should always build up volume slowly.

KJ advocated doing the workout2-3 times a week for ( I beleive) 4-6 weeks before switching to another focus.You should be able to increase max vo2 strongly in that time frame and will notice a big improvement in conditioning on the mat.

Just be carefull not to overtrain! your number of strength and conditioning workouts will be determined by how often you are getting on the mat and ALSO your recovery ability! Ill go over this in another post, for now get snatching and let me know how you go!


p.s.With its origins in the U.S. Secret Service selection process, the rules for the Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST) are simple. You must do as many repetitions of the kettlebell snatch as possible in ten minutes. Using the 24kg kettlebell (ladies, use the 12kg), you may switch hands whenever you’d like and you may even set the bell down. Final count is total sum of snatches, period. The only unspoken rule is that you will not quit. Don’t even think about stopping when the phone rings. You can rest the kb on the deck to keep a lung down.
NOTE: Kenneth Jay uses a 16kg kettlebell for his VO2 max protocol for guys, ladies possibly an 8.

p.p.s. Kenneth said that the swings require too much total body tension and subsequent afterload on the heart to elicit a good vo2 max stress. stick with the snatches and the 16 kg unless you are over 200 lbs. the key is that the work is fast and gets your hr to to 95% level it needs to be to get the cardio response you are looking for.

if you just want a killer workout then swings for any number of time/rest ratios are excellent.It has a much more muscularizing effect, as you would expect with a higher level of tension.

Friday, 29 May 2009


"If today you have nothing to be happy about, thank God for the potential of tomorrow."

Rickson Gracie

Kettlebell Training

“If you lose a match because your opponent has more skill, that’s okay. If you lose because of your conditioning, you have a personal issue.”

I have never been a fan of gym based workouts. Maybe it’s just me, but I never found a gym routine that built strength I could use in athletic activities. It didn’t translate into fitness in the surf, hiking, mountain biking, jiu-jitsu or other pursuits.
Kettlebell training solved a lot of this. Being pressed for time (and somewhat by cash), I really didn’t want to shell out for a hideous direct debit at some nightmare health club/fitness first/body sculpting/designer studio.

For a couple hundred bucks, I got a lump of iron I could keep in my room and use in a multitude of ways. I can even take it to the park or use it as a doorstop. Anything to keep me out of those horrible semi-solariums, being subject to crap music and surrounded by guys with gelled hair do’s churning out dumbbell curls while talking into their blue-tooth headset.

A kettlebell costs about as much as a couple of months membership to a local gym but you get far more physical and mental bang for your buck with a kettlebell.

Kettlebell lifting can be tough and there is a fair amount of technique. But it has a diverse range of applications: Build strength. Develop flexibility. Raise your level of conditioning. The list goes on. In fact, there is quite a diverse range of materials to work with depending on your goals. Fat loss with kettlebells is no doubt a very welcome side effect of KB training. Kettlebells can be used for:

  • Building Strength
  • Increasing conditioning – muscular & aerobic & anaerobic
  • Developing whole body coordination & explosiveness
  • Balance

A couple of other BJJ/Kettlebell related factors include shoulder health, grip strength and conditioning.

Shoulder Health

Most BJJ practitioners I know have sore shoulders occasionally. Many of my team mates at Novagen Academy use glucosamine or other joint support formulas to help with shoulder pain. The shoulder has an extremely wide range of motion which also makes it susceptible to injury. Kettlebells help build healthy shoulders because the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the shoulder joint are continually exercised with even the most basic exercises. For instance, if you squat a barbell, you can support it on your back, effectively disengaging your shoulder. If you squat with kettlebells your shoulders will be engaged even if you hang the bells like suitcases at your side. If you squat with the bells racked, shoulder engagement will be much greater..

Grip Strength

The no-gi game emphasizes arm and head control. The gi game emphasizes collar and sleeve control. Either way good grip-strength is a key to a successful BJJ game. Nothing is worse than losing a clean set-up when an opponent breaks your grips. Kettlebell training is uniquely beneficial for grip strength. Unlike conventional weight training, you don’t need a separate set of exercises for your forearms and wrists. The handle of a kettlebell is quite thick and you need to fully engage your forearms just to establish a good grip. Even in “rest” positions like the rack, your grips are always working to stabilize and position the bells, resulting in fantastic grip strength. After I started working out with kettlebells I found that my forearms don’t get burned out anymore.

Resistance + Cardio

A lot of people understand “conditioning” to mean running and other forms of aerobic cardio. BJJ however is characterized by explosive movements like the double-leg takedown, as well as sustained resistance as with the rear-naked choke. Because you have to resist a human opponent, BJJ is inherently unpredictable and you rarely have an opportunity to pace yourself or “groove” as you do with running or swimming. For this reason, I believe that long-duration aerobic cardio training is a poor fit for BJJ. Interval training with kettlebells affords great cardio benefits in addition to a challenging anaerobic resistance workout.

In my next article Ill look at a realy cool training protocol that has really helped my game in all of the above factors and all from the comfort of my own room (and with my choice in music :-) )On top of this the workout only takes about 20 minutes 2-3 times a week!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Grappling Maps

This is something that has been around for a while but Ive been slack with getting done. I have just recently been playing around with it and it's already helped me analyze my game a lot. It is called a mind map. It's basicly an outline of your game. This images below are just a sample that I found ages ago, apparently by the legendry Rickson Gracie. I am working on completing my own. It's an awesome idea to do individual mind maps of every major position and common reactions to your opponent's counters and movements.

They form a great visual blue print of your game-plan and allow you to realy analyse and start to put together what you know.
It makes a great starting point as well for a more detailed game-plan.

These 2 are really just to give ideas, they helped give me some ideas as to basic starting points for my own. I hope they help your too.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Inspiration For The Day

"True strength is not shown through victory. Stand up, try again and display strength of heart."

Rickson Gracie

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Enhanced Interval Training

Been experimenting with some different workouts lately. It's warming up here so im trying to do some outdoors training. There is a cool park with a marked off track on it 5 minutes from home. This is a cool workout protocol I came across called enhanced interval training. Interval training has great carry over to jiu-jitsu conditioning.
This workout is also known as the Interval Challenge.
There are no designated rest periods and you can rest as needed. Your goal is to complete the circuit four times, as fast as possible.

-10 Burpees
-20 Push Ups
-30 Squats
-400 Meter Run

Complete four circuits

Burpees-start in the bottom position of a squat with your hands on the ground, kick your feet back to the bottom position of a push up, then push up and return to your feet.

Push ups

I managed to get the workout done in 24 minutes on my first attempt, will try beat it ay subsequent workouts.
Im doing 2 strength/power workouts a week and 2 conditioning workouts a week, with this being one of them.
Let me know how you go.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A Weekend At The Dungeon

I was privelaged to get to spend the weekend with my good friends Aaron and Trev training at their gym the Dungeon BJJ and MMA Academy in Sunderland.
I gave two classes while I was there and got to train with their excellent team. The great guys at their academy were not only super friendly (apart from when trying to maul me on the mat :-) ) but also really technical. Both which are a testament to their coaches Aaron and Trev as it's a direct reflection of both of them as coaches.

Aaron addressing the class at the Friday session.

A few of the guys after the Friday session at the Dungeon.

I was also privelaged to get help corner one of Aaron's fighters, Craig "Bull" Bulmer for his 2nd MMA fight on Saturday night at Total Combat 29.
The event was held at Rainton Meadows Arena, Houghton Le-Spring.
The weigh in, medicals and pre-fight interviews were held at 3pm Saturday afternoon. It was cool being at the venue as everything was being set-up and it was also a nice change from events in South Africa in that the rules were proper MMA rules with no stand-ups unless there was inactivity on the ground and experienced, knowledgable refs controlling the fights.

After the weigh in we shot out and grabbed something to eat. Aaron and Sam made sure we had all of Bulls equipment and we returned to the venue with Bull eager to kick some ass.

Bull at the weigh in.

Bulls fight was scheduled for 2nd to last, 18th on the card, so we had an opportunity to sit and watch some of the under card fights. Ive attended a lot of MMA events and although the feelings are familiar, they are always there, like magic. The growing tension as the event kicks off and you make your way through the crowd and pockets of fighters and supporters ready for the fight. The focus as the prep begins, hands wrapped, warm ups started and a last few words of encouragement and then, the rush as the music starts and you make your way to the cage.

Bull prepares...

Bulls opponent was Lee Keegan from Leeds True Spirit MMA Club. The fight stated slowly with both guys feeling each other out and the round ended fairly evenly.
Bull came out storming in the 2nd round rocking his opponent several times on his feet and working well in the clinch, seconds before the end of the round Bull dropped his opponent with a beautifuly timed punched and jumped on his opponent looking to put him away, but the round unfortunately ran out.
His opponent made his way slowly back to his corner and was very slow coming out for the 3rd with the ring doctor having a close look at a nice cut under his right eye. He came out strong realising he was behind on points but ate another big shot to his right eye putting him down again, the doc was called in again and the fight was stopped.
Bull winning by TKO in the 3rd!

It was a great weekend serving to remind me how much I owe to Jiu-jitsu. Not only my life-style but the strength and wisdom to overcome the obstacles life throws up and the opportunity to see new places. Discipline, emotional control, improved health but most of all the friends Ive made.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

On the road!

Im on my way to Sunderland for a few days to visit and train with my Sunderland family Aaron and Trev, will be back Monday or Tuesady with some updates when I get back.
Have a good wknd and train hard!
Im glad big Lenin is home again where he belongs. :-) someones gotto keep an eye on Candy

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Welcome to Jiu-jitsu Ronin!

This is my first attempt at blogging, something Ive wanted to try for a while now. And just like that first attempt at an armbar or hip throw Im sure it will be pretty crap to start with, but hopefully with practice it will get a little better.

I want this blog to be about my search for mental, technical, and physical improvement in jiu-jitsu (and life I guess, as anyone involved in this art im sure knows the 2 start to mirror each other.)
My brother and I began our jiu-jitsu journeys, as im sure many others did, after seeing Royce kick everyones ass on bad copy of UFC 2.
Growing up in South Africa we were pretty isolated from the rest of the World, and there were no Jiu-jitsu schools or instructors in the country. Also with sanctions being imposed on South Africa and our ridiculously weak currencey traveling to train at that point in time was out of the question. So we began our training with a set of Gracie Jiu-jitsu Basics Instructional Videos and an old duvet pegged in the back garden as a mat.
Learning and training has been an awesome journey up till now, and it was tough in S.A. without having regular access to high level practitioners and we had to figure a lot of stuff out for ourselves and I'm always amazed at how, the more you learn the less you realise you actually know.

Ive been fortunate enough to train with some awesome people and as a result meet some of the best friends i could ever hope for, both at our club Novagen( and travelling to train and compete. Ive competed nationally in South Africa in Jiu-jitsu, submission wrestling, fought proffesionally in MMA(8-2) and competed in the UK and at the Mundials.

I think the use of blogs are a great way to communicate and share information with people of same interest. I want this to be a place to share my thoughts and experiences with Jiu Jitsu. I probably have a different approach to you, and hopefully we can learn something from each other.
As I learn wether it be from a training partner on the mat, someone elses blog, an instructor, competitor, book, dvd or the people i interact with each day, I'll try to share it here--not as any kind an expert, but as a jiu-jitsu player who has a real passion for this art that I fell in love with 12 years ago.