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A-Macing-ing BJJ Shoulders

In a sport that is as hard on the shoulders as Brazilian Ju Jitsu, you need as many tools in your toolbox as you can muster to get them strong, mobile and enduring.

I wish it was that easy to convince BJJ players of this.

Most wait until it's almost too late before coming to us for help.

You see that old adage that lifting weights makes you slow, or muscle bound, or it's only good for building muscle, it seems to persist.

Many take up BJJ, or any other sport because they don't like the gym.

And that's fair enough. I was the same.

I was 5 years into my Karate journey when at age 16 my instructor, the legendary Jack Parker said the life changing sentence:

"Dave, you need to get strong" So I did, and I've never looked back.

Seb is a slightly different animal. He came from a strength training background into BJJ.

Years of bench pressing and squatting may have made him incredibly strong and powerful, but there were gaps.

Gaps that were exposed by the 3 dimensional dynamic nature of his new sport. Thankfully, Seb is open minded, it's why he's earned his place as Coach in Wg-Fit, in charge of the Group Sessions.

Seb understands the need for multidirectional strength work, including so called "circular strength" training.

I don't like that term very much, it seems an attempt to trademark a training practice that predates the barbell by a very long time!

This is Seb getting his mace on:

This deceptively simple exercise brings with it a number of benefits.

The one I'm most interested in is the opening of the anterior shoulder girdle, and the improvement of the scapular-humeral rhythm. What's that mean in plain English?

The front of the shoulders and chest get chronically tight in most of the population, including the BJJ community

This tightness can pull the humerus (arm bone) forward in it's socket putting pressure onto a whole list of tissues that pass through the sub acromion space between the acromion of the scapula (shoulder blade) and the head of the humerus.

So while there are approximately 725 gazzillion exercises that you can find on Instagram all claiming to be the one stop cure for shoulder pain. Few come close, in my experience and the experience of the physio's I've taught, to swinging Indian Clubs and Maces for general maintenance of the shoulder, restoring clean shoulder movement and reducing non specific shoulder pains (ie those that haven't come from an acute incident)

Here's an example of myself looking after my own shoulder health with my Pahlavandle Indian Clubs from ( <--- NOT an affiliate link)

The Heroic Sport Pahlavandles are cheap as chips and very well worth the few quid you'll spend on them.

A Mace, well they're easier to buy now than they were a few years ago, but you could also Google a tutorial to build one using one of your old supplement containers, a couple of screws, some concrete and handle. This is Emmet, he's my Mace that I made for under a tenner.

Emmet is 15kg's in weight with a 5' bamboo handle and was painted by a friend of mine. Swinging these tools probably won't get you ridiculously strong. Seb is already hugely powerful. But they will help you keep that strength and power ready and available. Do your big presses, do your big pulls, load up those barbells and grab the big kettlebells. But before and after, on your off days, swing your mace, swing your clubs. Keep that shoulder girdle, that whole torso area loose, mobile and strong in any direction.


Dave Hedges

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