You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to the martial arts. Trust me, I know. When I first started out in the martial arts, I didn’t realize that different forms carried different benefits. There are so many to choose from and each style has its own appeal.
What are the benefits of BJJ, then?
If you’re on the fence, I’m going to help you determine if it’s right for you. There are many wonderful advantages to it, from mental health to physical fitness and safety.
BJJ is a well-rounded martial art that has the potential to improve almost all areas of your life. This article will show you how you can use it to your advantage.
Many people go into the martial arts pursuing fitness, and BJJ is no exception. You might not think it, but BJJ is an excellent way to stay in shape.
Before I tell you how though, I have to explain that even though BJJ is a grappling form, a study presented evidence that fighters typically have low body fat. This serves to debunk the myth that grapplers have to be hefty.
In fact, BJJ was created to compensate for a lack of size, weight or physical strength. This doesn’t mean that you won’t become stronger if you participate in it. There are many physiological benefits to this style.
So what is Brazilian jiu-jitsu good for when it comes to your body?
It’s Great for Cardio
There are two sides to this coin. The first is that BJJ is sure to get your heart pumping.
Many people underestimate how much of a workout grappling can be, but think about it.
In a BJJ class, you’re going to exert a lot of force attempting to take down your opponent and resisting their attack. You might not be running on a treadmill or doing an aerobic routine, but you’re still going to get your heart rate up.
Another benefit of BJJ is that it will demand just as much anaerobic activity as it will aerobic. Some people overlook this and struggle on the mat, but if you train to improve your stamina, you’ll reap an even greater reward.
This leads into the second consideration here, which is the exercise you will do to supplement your BJJ training. BJJ requires some level of fitness, and even if you’re participating casually, you’ll notice a difference if you make an effort off the mat.
That said, many fighters use BJJ to supplement their cardio. The two seem to go hand in hand. Don’t forget that cardio has its own benefits, like lowered blood pressure, better oxygen intake, fat burning, and cardiovascular fitness.
You’ll Strengthen Your Muscles
Have a look at BJJ fighters and you’ll notice that their physiques vary quite a bit. Not all of them are buff or bulky, but a fair few of them are chiseled. One reason for this is because, in competitive BJJ, fighters are classed by weight, and muscle mass can affect who they fight against.
Still, when you spend a fair portion of your time using your muscles to grapple, they’re going to change. It must be noted that BJJ probably won’t be effective enough to build muscle on its own, but it will strengthen the muscles you have.
As with cardio, if you supplement BJJ with resistance training, you will notice a significant difference in your physical strength and muscle capacity.
It Improves Your Flexibility
BJJ involves a lot of wrestling, and in training, you will find yourself in some interesting positions. While it may be uncomfortable at first, this is one of the biggest benefits of BJJ. With time and dedication, you will become more flexible and more agile.
Learning how to roll properly may come as a shock when you’re new to BJJ. You’ll have to defy your body’s instincts. One theory is that the older you are, the more unnatural it will feel. Think about how children can tumble with ease but adults can’t.
BJJ will train you to go with the flow, and with enough practice, the positions that were awkward at first will become second nature.
This stands true for all martial arts; the focus required to be successful in them can reprogram your brain and benefit your mental and spiritual health.
The physiological benefits of BJJ contribute to the psychological advantages too. But what is Brazilian jiu-jitsu good for when it comes down to your mental well-being?
Many studies have shown that exercise, in general, reduces stress. Staying fit can improve your brain function. Your body will also release more dopamine, and other good chemicals such as serotonin. At the same time, exercise helps to flush out cortisol, the stress hormone.
Since BJJ is quite a workout, your brain will be better off for it.
On a less scientific note, BJJ is a release, as all sports are. There’s something therapeutic about taking to the mat, and it’s a great way to let go of all the frustration you hold. Let’s not forget that BJJ is exhausting, so your sleep is bound to improve too.
This combination of reduced cortisol, increased dopamine, release and rest will make you more relaxed in the long run.
It Boosts Confidence
You can’t be shy or reserved in BJJ. Even if you’re uncomfortable and choose to observe at first, eventually you’ll have to take to the mat. There is nothing to fear here. BJJ is rewarding because it brings your own personal strengths to the surface, especially when you’re new to it.
Martial arts are meant to be encouraging, and BJJ is one of the more welcoming sports within it. Women, people of smaller stature, the elderly and others who might be discriminated against in other forms are treated equally in BJJ.
Once you’re used to it, it’s almost guaranteed that you will feel good about yourself. You’ll learn to be confident in your abilities too, which can easily bleed into everyday life.
BJJ Could Improve Your Mental Health
More research is needed to determine whether or not martial arts can be a solution to mental and emotional disorders. Still, there is promising evidence to support this. One investigation points out that BJJ may be effective in treating trauma and even reprogram your brain to be happier.
Most BJJ practitioners have stories to tell of how the sport has benefited their mental health, from improving depression to decreasing anxiety.
There is an element of meditation to BJJ. It will require focus and letting go of negative emotions like uncertainty and fear. For the same reason that it busts stress, it may uplift your mood and outlook.
Lastly, BJJ is a highly effective method of self-defense, as most grappling forms are. Most striking forms, like karate, are unrealistic in a real fight. Others, like boxing, are effective but limited.
Grappling is believed to be the most realistic way to handle a street fight, as they’re likely to end up on the ground. There’s also the element of surprise, as most ordinary people don’t know how to wrestle and so will be at a disadvantage, even if they can throw a punch.
BJJ, in particular, has the upper hand because by nature it’s a defensive martial art. The moves enable you to fight, incapacitate or escape from opponents that are much larger than you.
Though BJJ is advantageous to everyone in this regard, there is a special emphasis placed on women. In the event of an attack by a stronger, aggressive or physically dominant man, BJJ can be the difference in your safety.
More Benefits to BJJ
These benefits to BJJ may not apply to everyone, and may not have the science to back them up, but I still feel like they’re worth mentioning. If the above hasn’t convinced you, consider these:
BJJ Is Affordable
Since there’s no special equipment required, you could save money compared to other martial arts, like boxing or Muay Thai.
If you’re looking to become professional, BJJ fighters are sought after, and you could make a good amount of money through competitions.
BJJ can’t be practiced alone. In joining a class, you could make new friends and improve your social life. This social aspect of Brazilian jiu-jitsu cultivates comradery, teamwork, and encouragement.
BJJ Is One of the Best
You might have noticed that I am quite vocal in my praise for BJJ, but that’s because it’s worthy of it. BJJ is one of the best martial arts you can try, be it for fitness, safety or wellness.
If you’re looking to improve your fitness, learn self-defense, or even strengthen your mind, BJJ may be the perfect martial art for you. I recommend giving it a try, or at the very least delving deeper into it. There are so many benefits to it that it would be a shame if you brushed it aside.