20 Benefits of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

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Join us as we count down the various benefits of BJJ!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most the most popular martial arts on the planet. The reasons for BJJ’s popularity are obvious – it is effective and fun! But what are the actual mental, physical and health benefits of jiu jitsu, and what is the most important benefit of BJJ? Read the article to find out!

Brazilain Jiu JItsu BJJ Fighters in training sparing open x guard

Physical Benefits of Jiu Jitsu

Are you looking for that perfect summer body or do you just want to improve your general conditioning? Either way, jiu jitsu is the place to start.

Functional Strength

BJJ is an art where you use leverage and angles to overcome opponents that are larger and stronger than you. However, that does not mean that strength wouldn’t play a major part in the sport. In Jiu Jitsu you utilize you whole bod to perform sets of movements in succession against opponent who is resisting. While this is not what would traditionally be called strength training it trains your muscles to work strongly in unison. Within weeks of training jiu jitsu, you will notice an overall increase in your strength when performing complex whole body movements.

Conditioning

A jiujitsu practice is most definitely a cardio training. You start off with warming up, drilling techniques, and finally you roll on the ground with a resisting partner for several six to ten minute rounds. Most likely you will be at least a little out of breath at each point during the session, and a gasping for air at the end. And do you know what’s best? You’ll enjoy every minute of it, while your conditioning increases without you even thinking about it.

Flexibility

Jiu Jitsu is a sport where you end up in very weird positions. In order to get into these positions (and to get out of them!) you need flexibility. While you might not need Eddie Bravo flexibility (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OktcKhtMQ88) for all styles of jiu jitsu, most positions require at least a basic amount of mobility. The good news? Performing these positions, as well as the stretches during warm-up and cool off will gradually increase the flexibility in your legs, hips, back and shoulders to new heights! This increased flexibility might be one of the most important benefits of jiu jitsu for adults, who generally spend most of their day locked in a sitting position while working.

Coordination

Performing movements where your legs do one thing, while your arms do another at a different speed, all the while you are moving your hips from side to side might sound difficult to even comprehend. However, it is exactly what most moves of jiu jitsu are. The moves require you to use all parts of your body, and while you might feel clumsy at the beginning, you will improve quickly. Advanced jiujitsu players are usually not even aware of how complex even the rudimentary movements are, as they have developed their coordination to such high levels. Just think of a basic armlock from guard: You are pushing with one leg on the hip, pressing down and turning with the other, pulling with your other hand and pushing with the other, while turning your hips! And this is one of the most basic moves. Now try to imagine how you use the different parts of your body during berimbolo, or one of your own favourite moves.

Toughness

While Jiu Jitsu might translate as the Gentle Art, it does not mean that it would not be hard. In each session you will receive your fair share of unintentional strikes, intentional manipulations to your limbs and the feeling of someone crushing you beneath them. However, after a while you might notice a strange thing. All those things that hurt before no longer hurt. You might fall on your bike and scrape your knees and hands. Before jiu jitsu, you would have focused on the pain and let it distract you. Now? It’s only a minor annoyance, because all those jiu jitsu sessions have toughened up your body and you are able to shrug off minor accidents.

So, will BJJ get you in shape? The answer is a resounding yes. Just check out this inspiring story about a man who lost 257 pounds doing BJJ! But jiu jitsu also trains your mind, not just your body. Keep reading to find out what are the mental benefits of Brazilian jiu jitsu!

Mental Benefits of Jiu Jitsu

Left and Right Brain

While BJJ training might transform you physically, it will also transform you mentally. But there’s a catch – just like all the good things in life, it will take time.

Patience

Jiu Jitsu will teach you patience. It’s not a supposition, it is a fact. There are two kinds of patience that jiu jitsu will teach you. First, there is short term patience. If you are not patient enough to perform all the pre-requisites for a move and try to rush the submission, you will most likely lose it. You need patience. Jiu jitsu also teaches you long term patience. The art has been called a life game, and it truly is. In order to earn your black belt, you need to work diligently for years and years. You will not suddenly jump from blue belt to black belt in a matter of years. You need patience and jiu jitsu will give it to you.

Attention to detail

Details matter, and a jiu jitsu class is one the best practical examples of this. While you might submit a white belt by a lackluster move, and sometimes surprise a higher belt by just exploding into an attack, no high level black belt will be caught by move that is poorly set up. This is why attention to detail is stressed in jiu jitsu classes. As you train with higher level opposition, you will begin to realize why the coach stressed some little detail. When you fix this, you will most likely notice another detail. And in this way, your BJJ will improve, as will your attention to detail. Most likely, this attention to detail will also transfer to your everyday life, and you start to see that in order to do something properly, details matter.

Problem solving

Jiu Jitsu is a sport where you overcome obstacles set by your opponent. You will usually do this in a fluid and rapid manner, coming up with solutions to problems that your opponent presents. When you begin training, you will mostly struggle to come up with solutions to novel situations, but as you progress you learn to respond in a creative manner. This flexible method of problem solving can and most likely will be applied to life outside the mat as well.

Staying calm under pressure

BJJ is a sport, where people try to strangle you and attack your most vulnerable limbs. Thus, you need to be able to defend these kinds of attacks. However, a wild panic is usually not the most effective way of escaping. This means that you must stay calm, and be able to think who you need to defend, all the while your opponent is strangling you or attacking one of your limbs – sometimes even both. It is hard to imagine a situation where it would be harder to remain calm. Yet as you progress in jiu jitsu, you learn to stay increasingly calm in these situations and to work your defences in organized manner. And outside the mat? Well there is hardly a situation where you would need to panic as much as when you are running out of oxygen, so you will most likely remain calmer outside the mat as well.

Self-Confidence

Self-confidence increases with success. While you might not think that being constantly strangled and joint-locked would do much for your confidence, there is a secret: Jiu jitsu is a game of small victories. Do you remember the first time you landed a submission, or the first time you landed a submission on a higher belt? I bet you do, because the feeling is great. And I bet that next time, you were just a little bit more confident with attempting that submission. In jiu jitsu you will constantly fight small battles, some of which you will lose and some of which you will win. An example could be taking someone’s back. You will attempt it numerous times during a single session. As you practice, you will win more and more of these small battles, which in succession leads to larger victories, such as submissions. With each success you will become a bit more confident with your attacks and with yourself. After all, if you succeed constantly, why wouldn’t you succeed again. By building this confidence through jiu jitsu, you can extend it to other areas of your life as well.

Self-Reflection

All jiu jitsu fighters know that annoying feeling when you just miss a submission by an inch or lose a position that you were sure you had locked in tight. The question is always the same: why? But here’s the catch. Jiu Jitsu lets you test your why, over and over again. This is why it is the perfect practice ground for self-reflection. You can reflect upon your mistakes, and figure out what was correct and what was wrong. You will soon notice, that without self-reflection you will not progress, as you will end up doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – the definition of madness by Albert Einstein. Once again, the self-reflective nature of jiu jitsu can also be applied to life of the mat, to more serious problems.

Jiu Jitsu Builds Character

Bravery…

We live in an increasingly safe world where we are rarely physically challenged. Thus, it is only natural that physical confrontation or the threat of physical confrontation might change the way we act sometimes. We might shy away from confrontation or be afraid needlessly. However, when weekly battle with another human being is added into your weekly routine in the form of BJJ or another live martial art you will notice that this will change. With training you will learn to trust more in your abilities to defend yourself should the need ever arise and to face confrontation without fear.

…and Humility

While jiu jitsu might give you the tools to fight, it also teaches you the necessary humility so that you do not seek confrontation. You might be as talented, as athletic, as strong as anyone when you first walk into the gym, but if you have not trained jiu jitsu a day in your life, you will get submitted, period. And then you will be submitted again, and again. When you progress in jiu jitsu, you will get submitted less, but every now and then, someone will submit you, and this is what will teach you humility. The mechanics of joint locks and strangles work just as well on a beginner and a black belt, and thus when you find yourself in a fight, you may never be completely sure how it’s going to end. This will keep you humble.

Respect

Jiu Jitsu is all about respect. Before each session you bow to your coach as a sign of respect, and before you start practicing, you bow to your partner. This form or respect is integral to jiu jitsu. You are training with your partner to not only develop yourself, but to develop them as well. This teaches you respect not just on the mat, but off the mat of well.

Jiu Jitsu Teaches You Valuable Skills

Woman breaking a mugger's arm with a Jiu-Jitsu arm-bar

Self-Defence

It is a natural method of self-defence. Learning take downs, pins, joint locks and strangles creates functional knowledge of how to defend oneself, but it is the live sparring, which is part of almost every jiu jitsu class that prepares you for defending yourself. Most people have never been in a fight, and would freeze should they ever find themselves in a situation where they would need to defend themselves. However, the chances of freezing will greatly reduce if you have practiced fighting in jiu jitsu class. Although no-one would probably like to be in a situation where they would have to fend off an attacker, “it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in war” as the Chinese proverb goes.

Women's section of Jiu Jitsu. Girls work out the reception.

How to fall properly

Arguably one the most important benefits of jiu jitsu for adults and the elderly is learning to fall properly. While BJJ might not focus as much on takedowns and throws than, for example wrestling or judo, the proper way to fall is a part of almost every warm up. Mastering the skill is important for confident stand-up fighting, but it also protects you when falling on your bike or slipping on a patch of ice during the winter. It could be argued that learning how to fall is one the most important health benefits of jiu jitsu. Falling down repeatedly also increases bone density, which is another perk of doing jiu jitsu.

Learning to fall down and increased bone density are just few of the health benefits of jiu jitsu. Keep on reading to find out what other health benefits jiu jitsu offers.

Health Benefits of Jiu Jitsu

 

Jiu Jitsu increases your physical health by training your muscles, bones, and the whole cardiovascular system. But did you know that there are also significant mental health benefits of jiu jitsu? Keep reading to find out about these unexpected benefits of BJJ.

Jiu Jitsu can help you with mental illness

According to Nick Mainz, a clinical therapist and a BJJ black belt, jiu jitsu can help people suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD among other things. According to Maez jiu jitsu helps people suffering from mental illness to focus on the present, instead of delving in the past of worrying about the future.

Jiu Jitsu increases happiness

Clinical psychologist David J. Ley has put out a theory, that the close proximity of another human being might actually increase happiness. According to Ley, the close contact with another human being releases neurotransmitters in our brain and hormones in our body. The most important of these hormones is oxytocin, which he calls the empathy hormone. Ley suspects that this might be also one of the reasons why friendships in BJJ form so quickly and become so strong.

So far, we have covered almost all the aspects in which jiu jitsu can benefit you, but the most important benefits of BJJ have not yet been revealed. Scroll down to learn them!

The Most Important Benefits of Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is Fun!

There is one simple benefit, that submits every other benefit on the list – jiu jitsu is fun! The art itself is truly satisfying and addictive. While training, time seems to fly by and before you notice an hour and half long session is over before you even knew it really began. Once you get immersed in jiu jitsu, it becomes a lifestyle. If you ever needed a reason to start practicing – this is it. If you are already a fighter, this is nothing new.

Friends

Jiu jitsu is fun, and if you think so you will most likely find yourself surrounded by likeminded people. During practice you will meet people from all walks of life with different ambitions, goals and backgrounds, all united by a single thing – jiu jitsu. Some training partners you will like more, some less, but one thing is for certain you will make friends. And these friendships might last a lifetime. This is one the unexpected benefits of BJJ which beginners might not anticipate. When you start jiu jitsu, you become a part of the BJJ community.

Share your stories about the benefits of BJJ!

This list has comprehensively listed various benefits of jiu jitsu, but there are most likely benefits we could not even think about. Do you have stories of how BJJ has benefited you personally? Or do you think there are crucial elements missing from the list? Please share and let us know!

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