Brazilian jiu-jitsu science

Describing and developing the Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete


Describing and developing the Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete was a research project that started in Q1 2015 and ended in Q1 2020. The project was divided into three stages. The first stage assessed physiological and motivational characteristics of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) athletes. The second stage explored different training interventions designed to target rapid improvements in strength and endurance. The third stage summarized and contextualized key findings.

The project was led by Karsten Øvretveit and had contributors from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as well as the research group Skill and Performance Development in Sports and School at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The overall goals of the project were to contribute quality data to the field of combat sport research and provide novel insight into the demands of BJJ and the characteristics of its practitioners.

Findings from the project have been requested and read by researchers and coaches across the world, including large combat sports organizations.


Brazilian jiu-jitsu

All participants were active BJJ practitioners with a certain experience level and training frequency.


Body mass and composition were assessed to characterize the typical weight and body fat percentage in BJJ.

Maximal oxygen uptake

Direct pulmonary gas exchange was measured during exercise to determine aerobic power and work economy.

Force-generating capacity

Maximal strength was tested with compound movements; neuromuscular power was obtained with a force plate.

Grappling demands

Perceptual and physiological markers of exertion were investigated during unrestricted BJJ sparring.

Motivational dynamics

Achievement goals and training climate perceptions were explored using standardized questionnaires.


Peer-reviewed publications


Strength and Conditioning Journal

High-intensity, non-sport-specific strength and conditioning for Brazilian jiu-jisu athletes

Karsten Øvretveit

doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000542


Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Mastery goals are associated with training effort in Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Karsten Øvretveit, Stig Arve Sæther & Ingar Mehus

doi: 10.7752/jpes.2019.s4188

Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness

Aerobic interval training improves maximal oxygen uptake and reduces body fat in grapplers

Karsten Øvretveit

doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.19.09584-7


Archives of Budo

Achievement goal profiles, and perceptions of motivational climate and physical ability in male jiu-jitsu practitioners

Karsten Øvretveit, Stig Arve Sæther & Ingar Mehus


Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Maximal strength training improves strength performance in grapplers

Karsten Øvretveit & Tiril Tøien

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002863

International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport

Acute physiological and perceptual responses to Brazilian jiu-jitsu sparring: the role of maximal oxygen uptake

Karsten Øvretveit

doi: 10.1080/24748668.2018.1493634

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Anthropometric and physiological characteristics of Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes

Karsten Øvretveit

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002471