Jiu jitsu isn't the only activity that offers innumerable benefits to the practitioner... but it does have a special combination that does more than just help people get fit and give them something to do in their free time.
It's a combination of physical, mental, emotional and social benefits that gives people exactly what they need in life and makes lifelong practitioners out of anyone... regardless of who he or she might be. Young, old, male, female, strong, weak, black, white, rich or poor... Jiu Jitsu is for everyone.
What are those benefits? Read on...
Jiu jitsu will get you in shape. Of course, if you want to look like a gladiator you still have to put in the work and combine it with a balanced diet. But whatever your baseline is, jiu jitsu will improve your physical fitness, two, three, ten-fold, depending on how dedicated you are. This is because training jiu jitsu is a combination of cardio and resistance training. Each round is about five or six - sometimes even seven to ten - minutes of non-stop movement. You might not be moving fast, but whether you're on the offensive or the defensive, you're constantly moving. Combine that with another human body trying to either trying to subdue and submit you... or trying to prevent you from doing that to him or her. If you're not breathing heavy by the buzzer, you're either in impeccable shape already... or you're just not breathing period.
Jiu jitsu is called human chess for a reason. It's a one-on-one sport, you and your opponent, pitting your body and brain against the other person's. You can't just go in with a predefined plan and execute it exactly as you imagined it. You constantly have to strategize in the moment, because your opponent is going to bring his or her own game, and react in ways that you might not be able to predict. The more proficient you become, the faster you're able to recognize your opponent's intentions and foresee the openings for attack or defense. This directly translates off the mat, too. You'll start seeing a significant improvement in your critical thinking skills within weeks of beginning your jiu jitsu journey.
You'll be hard pressed to find someone who can argue that their emotional state of being hasn't improved through jiu jitsu. Of course, there are those exceptions, but for the vast majority of practitioners jiu jitsu is a major stress reliever. There are a ton of studies that show how physical activity - any kind really - serves as a vehicle for stress relief by releasing endorphins and putting you "in the moment". Particularly with the latter, it's incredibly hard not to be in the moment when you have someone trying to strangle you. Whatever is happening off the mat - work sucks, your children are little monsters, your parents are nagging you, your girl or guyfriend is cheating on you - it doesn't exist for that hour or two that you're on the mat learning someone awesome.
As humans, we are very social creatures. Even the most anti-social among us needs to have a person or people with whom we can interact. We need a "clan". The jiu jitsu community - your team - provides that clan. When you start training at a jiu jitsu academy, you immediately become part of that group. When you train together every day, grow together, sweat on each other, share each other's frustrations and successes... you become as close as family. You become family... jiu jitsu family.
But don't take my word for it. Take a breath - I know, it's intimidating taking that first step - and go try a class at your local academy.
Train on... Oss.