The Benefits of BJJ
The Benefits of BJJ
Those who have already started on their jiu-jitsu journey don’t need to read about the benefits of BJJ. You already know. You’ve likely felt them on your first day, week or month. This blog is not for you.
This blog is for you who are just now considering that you might like to try it. Maybe you have a friend or a relative who has been hounding you ceaselessly to step on the mat. Maybe you saw a UFC on television, and it sparked your curiosity. Maybe you’re in a rut and looking to make a major change in your life by trying something new and scary. Maybe you just want aggressive hugs from perfect strangers, and jiu-jitsu seems like best way to get that without having the cops called on you.
Whatever your interest, you’ve hopped on the internet to research whether it’s worth your time and effort.
Let me tell you why it is…
Any kind of activity in which you’re moving your body is going to have some physical benefits. Because let’s face it: humanity has fallen into a terrifying rut of sedentary lifestyles and lethargy. As hunter-gatherers, we moved all the time. (Yes, we were also eaten by saber toothed tigers and died from minor infections, but that’s beside the point.) Today, we all don’t move enough.
However, jiu-jitsu offers a special array of physical benefits that few other activities can boast. For one, jiu-jitsu is both a cardio and strength training workout, especially for women. Every match, you’re constantly pushing and pulling large amounts of – resisting – human body weight, in addition to having to move quickly and nimbly into or away from attacks. Two, jiu-jitsu develops a keen bodily awareness. You learn how to fall, roll, twist, drop and pop back up to your feet. When do we do these kinds of things in our everyday life? Three, jiu-jitsu teaches you how to control your breathing. If you gas-out at the beginning of a match, you’ll be useless against attacks from your better-winded opponent. If you hyperventilate while being squished under your opponent, and you’ll either pass out or, at the very least, fail to properly think through an escape from that position.
Worldwide, but especially so in American society, communities are fracturing. No longer do we live surrounded by immediate and extended family; no longer do we know the names of all our neighbors; no longer are we expected to have active roles in the functioning and betterment of our local communities. Sure, there are exceptions (think: some small towns). But most of us have become isolated amidst a sea of people.
Jiu-jitsu is more than just a physical activity. It is a community made up of an incredibly diverse population of people, from a wide variety of backgrounds. When you join a jiu-jitsu academy, you’re joining a microcosm of that. Janitors, electricians, students, lawyers, doctors, professional gamers, cops, weed dealers… you’ll find someone from every profession sharing the mat with you at one time or another. Within the jiu-jitsu community, you will find your best friends. You’ll find people that you vacation with, share your successes and struggles with, and with whom you can trust to watch your precious Fido while you’re out-of-town.
Depression, PTSD, suicide… all are at record highs, particularly in the United States. I am not qualified to speak as to why this is the case, but I can say that anecdotal evidence suggests that jiu-jitsu offers a potentially powerful method of therapy for individuals struggling with their mental health. Even those who would not categorize themselves as such, still have to manage the everyday stresses from work, family, life, etc. Jiu-jitsu is a perfect therapy for that, too.
The physical and social benefits already discussed all have significant psychological implications. When you look and feel better physically, you typically feel more confident and self-assured. When you’re surrounded by a group of friends with whom you share the passion for jiu-jitsu, you feel more loved and supported. Additionally, jiu-jitsu forces you to be present. You don’t have the luxury of worrying about life’s challenges, when you’re aggressively hugging someone who intends to tap you before you tap him/her. The skills you develop in managing your anxiety on the mat, translates directly to off-the-mat scenarios; breathe, relax, think through your options, and act.
Whatever your reasons are for being interested in jiu-jitsu, one this is guaranteed: you will – without a doubt – experience all three of these benefits of BJJ. So take that first step onto the mat. You’ll never regret it.