How much training does it take to be a champion?


People in BJJ often find themselves asking how much the best spend training each day.  The answer is obviously very different for different people, but the quick and easy answer is usually a lot.  Most of the best (world champions and highly respected competitors) spend in the range of 3-6 hours per day 5-7 days per week in order to reach that high level.  I’d like to run through some examples, and talk about what this type of training usually consists of.

I recently read an article on Gianni Grippo’s website where he talks about drilling and why he feels it is such an integral part of anyone’s training.  In the article Gianni states that he trains 2 classes per day at Marcelo Garcia’s gym in NY and also drills before and after the first class, and before the second class.  

Keenan Cornelius has stated in interviews that when he was going for the grandslam at purple belt he had heard rumors that the Miyao Brothers trained 4-6 hours per day, he said in the same video that he knew that this meant that he had to train more and harder than 6 hours per day.  Since this video, he has relocated to Atos from LLyod Irvin, and his schedule has changed slightly but he still hits 1 morning session, a strength and conditioning session, and a long evening session of training.

As I stated previously the Miyao Brothers have been reported to train up to 6 hours per day.  I have heard stories of them staying at their gym in Sao Paolo, sleeping and eating there, and also spending the entire day drilling and training.  In a recent video they also confirmed that since training with the Mendes brothers that they realized the importance of strength and conditioning and have made that a regular part of their routine as well.

At alliance headquarters in Atlanta we have seen both Cobrinha and Lucas Lepri as head instructors.  They each taught multiple classes per day (and also joined in sparring), and regularly scheduled drilling and strength and conditioning sessions as well.

Caio Terra recently had an excellent interview where he talked about his training, coming up through the belts, and his rapid rise from blue belt to black belt.  In the video he discusses leaving his gym and setting up mats at his house where many of his friends (high level competitors and black belts), would often come to train with him.  He describes training in the evening, going to bed, only to be awoken by someone knocking at the door at 2-3am looking to do more training.

We can see by these examples that if you truly want to be the best, or compete at a very high level that most of the sports brightest stars are training hard, training multiple times per day, mixing specific training, drilling, and sparring.  I am sure there are a few exceptions to the rule,  being that a select few may only train one time per day, but these are by far the exception and not the rule.  Most of the top competitors also add additional workouts of strength training and or cardio vascular work.

The take away is this. If you aren’t achieving the results you would like to achieve ask yourself how far you want to go, how much success you want, and how much work are you willing to put in?  The best have gotten where they are by working harder than anyone else, by refusing to accept defeat, by working while everyone else is asleep or at the movies.  The days of training once per day and becoming a world champion in BJJ are coming to an end.  The sport is growing rapidly and becoming more refined and scientific at an exponential rate.  If you want the results then you have to be willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work that other champions do.