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Unveiling the Power of LTAD in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Embracing the Learn to Train Phase

Jiu Jitsu students in the Learn to Train phase of their journey.

In the dynamic world of sports, the concept of Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) has emerged as a key framework for nurturing athletic talent. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), with its complex techniques and strategic depth, is no exception to this. Particularly crucial is the "Learn to Train" phase of LTAD, a stage that lays the foundation for future success in BJJ. This phase not only hones technical skills but also instills a lifelong passion for the sport.

Understanding LTAD in the Context of BJJ

Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) is a holistic approach focused on the optimal training, competition, and recovery schedule for athletes at various stages of their growth. It's divided into several phases, with "Learn to Train" being one of the most pivotal. For BJJ practitioners, this phase typically involves athletes aged 8-12 years, a period where they transition from playful participation to structured training. This stage is about mastering fundamental skills, understanding BJJ principles, and cultivating a love for the sport.

The Importance of Structured Training Plans for LTAD in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

In Jiuu Jitsu, the "Learn to Train" phase emphasizes structured training plans tailored to the developmental needs of young athletes. These plans integrate technical drills, sparring sessions, and physical conditioning. An example is a training plan that starts with warm-up exercises, followed by technique demonstration, drill practice, and ends with controlled sparring. Such a structure ensures that practitioners develop a strong technical foundation, understand tactical aspects, and improve physical fitness, all while minimizing the risk of burnout or injury.

Engaging in Structured Classes for Skill Development

Structured classes are the backbone of effective BJJ training during the "Learn to Train" phase. These classes are designed to progressively develop skills. For instance, a class might focus on a specific aspect of BJJ like guard passing or sweeps. The instructor breaks down each technique into manageable parts, demonstrating and then guiding students through drills. This methodical approach ensures that students not only learn techniques but also understand the underlying principles and contexts in which they are applied.

Developing Systems of Techniques in BJJ

A unique aspect of BJJ training in the "Learn to Train" phase is the development of systems of techniques. Instead of learning isolated moves, practitioners learn a series of interconnected techniques. For example, a system might start with a guard pull, followed by a sweep, and culminate in a submission. Systems could also teach students how to problem solve through different types of resistance from their training partners. Learning in systems allows students to understand how various techniques flow together, preparing them for more advanced strategy-based training in the later stages of their BJJ journey.


The "Learn to Train" phase of LTAD is a vital period in the development of a BJJ practitioner. It lays the groundwork for technical proficiency, tactical understanding, and physical conditioning. By focusing on structured training plans, engaging classes, and systems of techniques, young BJJ athletes can build a strong foundation for their future in the sport. Embracing LTAD principles in BJJ not only fosters skill development but also nurtures a lasting passion for this challenging and rewarding martial art.

Interested in learning more about LTAD? Check out the definitive book Long Term Athletic Development by Istvan Balyi, Richard Way, and Colin Higgs.

Find a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym near you by heading over to our Gym Finder to find qualified Jiu Jitsu instructors throughout Grand Rapids, MI.

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