Any person that’s practiced any amount of jiu-jitsu can say one thing for certain: it’s not easy. Especially for those with no background in grappling of any kind, one five-minute round of BJJ sparring can feel like torture. That’s exactly why jiu-jitsu can be an excellent off-season activity for elite athletes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Will Gholston recently took up jiu-jitsu before the 2021 NFL season. Gholston recently spoke about his experiences training in jiu-jitsu and how that helped him prepare for another year in the NFL.
“I was doing some Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the hardest thing I’ve ever tried,” said Gholston. “It’s harder than football practice, to be honest with you. The gi is just as hot as it is outside.”
Gholston found similarities between jiu-jitsu and what he does as a defensive lineman. Lineman are constantly grappling, and the leverage taught in jiu-jitsu translates directly to that grappling.
“The hand-to-hand combat, the wrestling, leverage, grappling, all that, basically a D-lineman,” Gholston said.
Of course, another added bonus is increased endurance, as well as a bit of helpful confidence.
“My endurance is up. I think the people to ask are the O-lineman. I don’t try to put them in the bad little hold, but I kinda get in those holds all the time.”
Gholston was the Buccaneers’ fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft. He has been a steady performer for the team since then, and signed a five-year contract in 2017.