The sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) requires both fast, explosive actions, as well as maximal force contractions, often at ends of ranges. An imbalance between elbow flexor and extensor strength may predispose the athlete injury in this area, due to reduced joint stability.


In this study, 23 male BJJ athletes first underwent strength testing of the elbow muscles in an isokinetic dynamometer. They performed 5 second maximal force isometric contractions into elbow flexion and elbow extension at 45, 60, 75, 90, 105 and 120 degrees. They then performed isokinetic strength testing on the same device through 30-130 degrees, at a speed of at 1.04 rad·s-1. Rapid and maximal angle-specific torque ratios were then calculated by dividing the flexion scores by the extension scores (F/E). 


Both the rapid and maximal F/E ratios were shown to be greater in mid-ranges, suggesting that strength imbalances exist at the beginning and end points of the range of motion, with the lowest ratio values occurring at 45 and 120 degrees. These findings were similar between more experienced and less experienced practitioners. 


These findings may be of use in designing strength and conditioning programs for this population. 


Follmer, B., Ruas, C.V., Dellagrana, R.A., Pereira De Lima, L.A., Pinto, R.S., Diefenthaeler, F., Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters present greatest rapid and maximal strength imbalances at extreme elbow angles, Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert