Watch Hillary demonstrate the 5 bridges every grappler should practice:
The bridge is one of the most valuable skills in a grappler's toolkit. A well-developed bridge can be used to escape or reverse positions, take down your opponent, or avoid being taken down yourself.
However, not many BJJ players devote much time on developing a powerful bridge. They may do some bridges from side-to-side during their warm-up, maybe a few upa drills and then off to class.
But by taking the time to develop a strong bridge you’ll not only make your hips and legs stronger, you’ll make every aspect of your game much better as well.
For example, bridging mainly develops the muscles of the posterior chain -- the gluteals, hamstrings and spinal erectors -- but they also do a wonderful job of loosening up the anterior chain, mainly tight hip flexors. This is not only important for bridging movements, but your sprawls and hip escapes will get stronger and more efficient as well.
Having great technique is very important. Having great technique in combination with greater strength is an even better asset.
For the purpose of this article, and to add some context, I divide all movements into three broad categories for athletic development:
- General Physical Preparation
- Directed Physical Preparation
- Specific Physical Preparation
Thomas Kurz, author of “The Science of Sports Training” provides these definitions:
1. General exercises are those that develop general fitness that's non-specific to an athlete’s sport. The purpose of these exercises is to harmoniously develop the whole body so it can withstand further specialization.
2. Directed exercises prepare an athlete for sport-specific exercises. Directed exercises combine certain traits of general and sport-specific exercises.They involve the same muscle groups in the given sport and use the same energy system. Also, their dynamic characteristics are similar to the sport-specific exercises but the exact form of movement is different.
3. Sport-specific exercises are those that directly contribute to the improvement of an athlete’s sport-specific performance. Most (but not all) sport-specific exercises consist of elements of competitive actions.
Thomas Kurz also has a fourth category called competitive exercises. These are the actual techniques of a given sport. Think armlock or triangle.
Of course, there is always be some degree of overlap regarding these exercises. I would list the following exercises in the video below as directed exercises.
Please take the time to explore these movements. They may seem simple at first but as you progress though each drill the complexity and range of motion increases, creating greater demand.
You should be able to perform these drills anywhere, and as you progress and get more efficient, adding an external weight is always an option.