Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more than just a sport, self-defense system, and fitness program. The benefits of jiu jitsu are incredibly broad and can help transform your whole life for the better. Here are 5 benefits you will experience:
- Safety/ Self defense
- Self esteem
- Self awareness
- Physical fitness
- Lifelong passion
1) Safety/ Self Defense
We start with one of the most practical benefits of Jiu Jitsu … self defense. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can help keep you, or a loved one, safe. Unfortunately, even in the relative safety of the United States, the likelihood of you being a victim of a violent crime is high — probably higher than you’d guess. The US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics division did a comprehensive study on the Lifetime Likelihood of Victimization that concluded that that there is an 83% chance you will be a victim at some point in your lifetime. 83%! Fortunately, violent crime has dropped nearly 30% since that study, so your odds of being a victim are now only about 58%. Sadly, the statistics are much worse for some groups.
Nothing can keep every victim safe, but Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can provide the tools to allow you to defend yourself in many circumstances. It is the best martial art for street self-defense for many reasons:
- It is effective against larger, stronger opponents. BJJ uses technique and leverage rather than strength and athleticism to control an attacker. Most victims are smaller than their attacker, so having the skills that negate that advantage is critical to being effective.
- BJJ is a ground fighting system rather than a stand-up, striking system. This is more important than one may realize at first blush. Most attacks end up on the ground. That may warrant repeating … most attackers end up taking their victim to the ground at some point. In part, it’s a necessity. If someone attacks me and doesn’t control me — maybe they just want to punch or kick me — I can often just run away. 🤷♂️ To prevent that, the assailant will usually grab you or maybe throw you to the ground. An effective self-defense system is one that prioritizes groundwork so you can stay safe while there and then get up and get away.
- We practice at near 100%. BJJ is one of the only martial arts that you can practice at nearly 100% against resisting opponents who are also going nearly 100%. You simply can’t do that in boxing, karate, TKD, Krav Maga, or nearly anything else. A full effort head kick in TKD or eye gouge in Krav Maga would render the person hospitalized if not defended. So practice in these arts always has limits. Pads, headgear, “going easy”, practicing forms, etc.. As a result, you don’t know what will really happen if you attempt that fancy head kick in real life. Will you actually be able to gouge their eyes when you try it? Will it work? Will it open you up to counters or alternatives? Because BJJ is so much about control, we can safely train at near 100%. You know what works and what doesn’t because you experience it — in real time. It’s the closest thing to real fight practice.
Listen to what Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal talk about it.
2) Self Esteem
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” is a popular meme. For good reason — it’s largely true. And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is hard. It’s one of the best things about it, and one of the best things for you. You will be pushed outside your comfort zone in virtually every single class. Unlike traditional martial arts where you spend most of your time doing forms, breaking boards, or hitting pads, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you will be applying your technique at nearly 100% against opponents who will be doing the exact same thing to you. At first, you will fail. You will learn a lesson that everyone deserves to know: winning a fight or defending oneself takes knowledge, skill, and practice.
Jiu Jitsu is a humbling experience at first, but that makes the successes all the more rewarding. As new people join the gym, you see your old self in their failures while you recognize the immense progress you have made. This helps you build self esteem — lots and lots of self esteem, and you realize that if you can do this, you can do anything. This has a profound effect, not only on your fitness goals but on your whole life.
3) Self Awareness
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the only martial arts you can safely practice at full effort against resisting opponents. The first benefit of that is we get a better awareness of the effectiveness (or not) of the techniques and how to apply them. You can break 1,000 boards and beat up 100s of bags without having any awareness of whether or not those punches/kicks would work against someone intent on hurting you. While this is an essential part of an effective martial art, the more important lesson is the personal self-awareness it brings.
Jiu Jitsu forces everyone to face reality every time they step on the mats, but in a good way. We have a natural inclination to stretch the truth to ourselves to make ourselves more comfortable. “Work is fine,” “My relationships are fine,” “I’m healthy,” etc. If we do that, we risk fooling ourselves into complacency. But the first step to improvement is being honest about the present – and doing something about it. Joe Rogan, famous comedian, podcaster, UFC commentator, and jiu jitsu black belt, said, [salty language warning] “When you do jiu jitsu, it’s impossible to be full of shit because reality comes at you in the purest form possible…. And that has made me understand myself: my weaknesses, my strengths, the shit I need to work on. That is one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever had in my life.”
4) Physical Fitness
Quite often people pick up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because they are looking for a more fun & engaging way to improve their physical fitness. They’ve tried lifting weights, running, biking, or other fitness programs only to discover they don’t work well or are too boring to do consistently. It’s definitely true — bjj can dramatically improve your overall physical fitness. It’s been called The Ultimate Functional Fitness.
It’s an intense, full body workout. If you’ve ever been in a fight (and we hope not), you’ll know just how quickly you can become exhausted – even if you are in good shape. We see athletes from all sorts of sports – CrossFit’ers, runners, swimmers, and even triathletes become exhausted in just a few minutes on the mats. We joke that being in shape and being in “mat” shape are very different things.
Combat sports are among the highest calorie burning activities you can do. BJJ pushes your whole cardiovascular system, you have to push/pull against resistance (like a weight workout), and the intensity of your effort is determined, at least in part, by someone else. On top of all that, it’s really fun. Not only do you not mind doing it — you will be eager to get back and do it again — soreness and all. It doesn’t take long to feel the incredible physical difference. You’ll lose weight, get stronger, and improve your flexibility in a very short period of time.
5) Lifelong Passion
When you start BJJ, you’ve usually bought yourself a ticket to a lifelong passion. The addiction to BJJ is a healthy one, built on a combination of factors: an unquenchable desire to keep learning more, the feeling that you’re becoming a better, more disciplined person overall, and an inevitable affinity for the group of people you train with every day. You just have to keep coming back. It’s difficult to resist your natural curiosity about what you could have done better in that last roll, or what would happen if you improved your guard game just a little more. And, of course, you don’t want to let your training partners down by not showing up. There’s something about BJJ that always leaves you wanting more, no matter the color of your belt.
Those are just some of the benefits of jiu jitsu. We’ll highlight some others in part 2 which is coming soon.
Are you ready to find your inner champion? If you live in the Atlanta/Norcross GA area, come get started for free and experience these benefits for yourself.