BENEFITS OF BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU

5 Reasons why BJJ is the perfect martial art for anyone

East Coast Jiu Jitsu Academy, Dublin

August 2016

So, you are tired of your monotone fitness classes, jogging or like many others you find it hard to follow a program of exercises? What if we told you that there is a fast-growing martial art which focuses on combining physical fitness and self-defence? Hopefully you would be intrigued and eager to find out the top 5 reasons why BJJ is the perfect martial art/activity for anyone! Let’s get started:

Reason #1 : It is appropriate for all.

At our academy, just like at many others we have students (men AND women) ranging from 5 years old to over 60 years old. The kids curriculum normally includes more games, because fun is equally important as moving, getting agile and knowing the basics of self-defence.

There is a common misconception among adults that they have to be in great shape to start training jiu jitsu, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The mats have seen a fair share of incredible transformations, due to the physical nature of the sport and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle that comes with it. Size also does not really matter, because technique conquers strength and a properly trained person can easily defeat a far stronger opponent. Which brings us to reason #2

Reason #2 : BJJ was developed with self-defence in mind and constantly tested

There are many martial arts out there, where flashy strikes and techniques are demonstrated, but they lack application in reality. Brazilian jiu jitsu was developed about a hundred years ago in Rio de Janeiro by the Gracie family as an off-shoot of judo. The applicability of BJJ as a form of self-defence has been constantly tested as the Gracie family participated in the so called “Gracie challenge”. There, members of the family would take on anyone who was convinced that they could best them in a fight. Often the most physically imposing challengers would be quickly forced to surrender, by a much smaller (sometimes 50kg) fighter and without suffering a single strike. UFC 1, which gave birth to MMA saw Royce Gracie defeat all challengers for the first three tournaments in a row. He achieved this despite not being skilled in striking and weighing a measly 70kg. This aspect of BJJ makes it excellent for smaller men and for women who can use the efficiency of movement and the manipulation of joints and chokes to defend themselves, often without risking overwhelming damage to the aggressor.

Royce Gracie before submitting Ken Shamrock at UFC 1.

Photograph credit – ESPN.

It is important to understand that the “fights” you see on TV are choreographed and that in real life one-punch knockouts are very rare, so the reality of fighting sooner or later includes grappling with your opponent. Grappling is what our coaches do for a living and they are extremely happy to share their knowledge.

Reason #3: Jiu jitsu is a great full-body workout

Have you ever walked past a spinning class at your local gym and listened to the instructor screaming at the people on the bikes and looked at their tortured faces? Of course some people might enjoy that, but it is not necessary to subject yourself to that to get in shape.

One of the great things about BJJ is that you are focusing on technique and improving your skill enough to forget that you are actually getting a nice workout in. During sparring you are completely immersed in the moment, thinking more about survival and advancing your position in the game of human chess, rather than pushing yourself physically (you are doing it automatically). Your entire body is working. From the muscles at the top of your neck down to your toes because you are trying to manipulate your body as well as your partners. Since he normally has the same idea that becomes quite a workout, leading to the same results as your brutal gym workouts or hours on the treadmill.

“While you may step on the mats with all the frustrations that life has thrown at you, you will step off sweaty and likely with a smile on your face, because you took a step towards a better you. That feeling is infectious and you may find that it transfers itself to other aspects of your life.”

Reason #4 : BJJ is safer than many other martial arts

Due to the lack of strikes and the controlled environment of BJJ gyms it is less likely that one will suffer trauma that is associated to repeated punches and kicks or other impacts. While the sport is still highly physical, it is less likely for you to suffer facial injuries or other visible damage.

But mr. author of this article, is it not true that you choke each other and attack joints in BJJ? Yes, dear reader, that is correct! However, injuries in training are still very uncommon, because it is made very clear that you can “tap out” or submit far before any damage from those manoeuvres can occur. Perhaps more importantly the atmosphere in the gym is friendly and coaches (who are held to the highest standards in our gym) make sure that students look after each other to further minimize the risk of injury. Physicality cannot be eliminated from the mats however. That is because it is the reality of hand-to-hand combat and understanding it is the crucial component of self-defence.

Coaches Marcus and Sam working on their flashy submissions.

Photograph by Dave Fogarty of Gingerbeard design.

Reason #5 : Fun and self-improvement

Out of all the reasons listed this one might be the most important. BJJ has all the potential to become your favourite activity and something that you look forward to all day. You are not only putting in the miles on *insert fitness torture device here*, but you are learning a new skill as well. If you wish you can also begin testing that skill in competition. That can be a nerve-rackingly amazing experience as well. There are no egos on the mats, no beliefs other than helping each-other improve and pushing the boundaries of what you thought you could achieve. It is also never too late to start. A great example is World famous chef Anthony Bourdain. He had lived a very unhealthy lifestyle for the majority of his life until BJJ transformed his life for the better in his late 50s!

While you may step on the mats with all the frustrations that life has thrown at you, you will step off sweaty and likely with a smile on your face, because you took a step towards a better you. That feeling is infectious and you may find that it transfers itself to other aspects of your life.

The best way to find out about ALL the benefits of BJJ is to try it for yourself!

Photograph by the UAEJJF.

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