BODY WEIGHT TRAINING – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu VS Pole Fitness

There are all sorts of martial art forms available and many of them have been around since the dawn of time with the benefits of these activities ranging from fitness to self-discipline, confidence and respect... sound familiar?

This November we chat to pole dancer, instructor and martial arts enthusiast, Tharene Windsor about the compatibility between pole and martial arts, and how one might complement the other –


1. Can you provide a brief background on your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experience?

I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu six years ago, just after starting kickboxing.  I had asked my sensei if he offered self-defence classes as I wanted to add that knowledge to my kickboxing repertoire, but I specifically wanted to start with defence from the ground or where your neck has been grabbed. I loved what he was showing me – I felt a sense of empowerment and he mentioned that what he was showing me was actually Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I was hooked.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu makes you strong, confident and fit! It has taught me to stay calm no matter what situation I am in, to breath, focus and analyse the situation before acting. The training is tough and there is no time to think about everyday stresses and responsibilities, so as weird as it sounds, it is my relaxation time as well as where I get a hectic training session in. I absolutely love it!


2. Could you provide a brief background on how you go into pole dance and what keeps you going?

I started pole dancing about seven years ago. I’ve been in the fitness industry for over seventeen years and I’m always on the lookout for new challenges but when my training partner at the time told me we should try teaching ourselves pole I was sceptical as I’ve had no dance background whereas she has been a dancer her whole life. However, the fact that you would need a whole lot of strength to pole was enticing.

I was hooked from the very first practise. We were the first ones to start pole dancing in PE and out of everything I have taught and tried out over the past seventeen years, pole is my absolute favourite! I love how you develop strength, muscles and confidence unlike anything else.

Seeing my girls progress in pole, seeing their confidence and self-esteem increase definitely keeps me going. Nothing compares to that feeling of knowing you have given someone a better view of themselves than they had previously. I feed off their energy and achievements. In fact, I think I am often more excited about them nailing a move or combo than they are... hahahaha.

Tharene Windsor pole dance


3. Do you find that the work you do in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu complements your pole work at all? And if yes, how so?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu definitely complements pole – both are about bodyweight and core strength, and your knowledge of how the body moves and works is very important.

For Jiu Jitsu I mostly train with guys, which obviously helps increase my strength, and it adds a huge cardio factor to my training, which I believe you need when you want to be able to complete a routine easily on the pole. But in Jiu Jitsu the more relaxed you are the better you roll, and I’ve definitely found that helps me when I work on pole flow. I have learnt to let my body just move. Not tightening my muscles so much has really increased my ability to move more easily and not get tired so quickly.


4. Which discipline have you found more challenging?

It is difficult to say which is more challenging. I feel that they challenge me personally on different levels, but I strongly believe they complement each other. I am also a huge believer in women empowerment and I feel that empower women massively.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is challenging as it is like a game of chess (and I totally suck at chess!). There are so many variations going from one move to another depending on how your opponent moves and what you have in your arsenal, so as much as it is a physical sport it is very much a thinking game. At least the chance of me getting Alzheimer’s will be less... Hahaha!

Pole is also challenging though, in the sense that it is a dance form and requires flow of movement. I generally manage strength moves fairly easy, but making it look flowy and dancy is more of a challenge for me. Well, that and of course the sweating and slipping off the pole!

Tharene Jiu Jitsu collage


5. Do you have any safety messages with regard movements and gear in both disciplines?

  • As both are sports one should always warm up thoroughly before training and do extra work on strength flexibility and stabilisers (as this makes you stronger from the inside out).
  • Acknowledge when your body is not ready for a certain move - you can always try again in a week or two. This will prevent injuries and you will get stronger.
  • Stop focusing on what the person next to you can do and focus on where you are and how much you have already achieved. Focus on your small victories and achievements while keeping your bigger goals in mind.
  • Listen to your instructor! If they feel you need to recover or rest or you are not ready for a move... they have been there, done that and they are looking after your well-being.
  • Believe in yourself... it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get a move, you will get it eventually and if your body doesn’t work that way for a particular move there are a 1000+ other moves you can do.
  • Never stop having fun, because you WILL stop progressing. Have fun, put in the work and be passionate about what you are doing. The rest will follow.


Wise words, Tharene. Thank you!


For more on our body weight training series click -> here as we cover a range of activities like acrobatics, calisthenics, yoga, running, parkour, boxing, HIIT, dance and the aerial arts.

Date added: 11/17/2017