BJJ attracts more and more practitioners by the day. Different people have different reasons to start training, but each hopes to gain some benefits. But do you know what they can be?
BJJ brings immense benefits, both physical and mental. Many people start because they want to learn self-defense skills. Still, you will see many improvements in your conditioning, strength, flexibility, confidence, mental focus, and overall physical and mental health.
Surely you know training BJJ is good for you, but it’s always better and provides extra motivation to know exactly what you gain by investing time on the mats.
Physical Benefits of BJJ
Movement is essential for overall health, and there are many sports and exercises that will improve your fitness and overall well-being. But why not use BJJ and get all the physical benefits of regular sports and the unique things jiu-jitsu will teach you? But let’s first start with how it will benefit your body.
The primary way to lose weight is to maintain a caloric deficit, meaning you need to use more calories than you take in. The intake part is a topic for another time, but BJJ can help you immensely with calorie burning.
BJJ offers a great full-body workout, challenging all energy systems and muscle groups. A typical class is about an hour to an hour and a half, during which you will be moving most of the time, covering the warm-up, then technique training, and finally, the most tiresome and calorie-burning of all exercises: live rolling.
The caloric expenditure of an entire BJJ class is immense, and doing it a few times a week is a sure way to trim down the fat or maintain your fit physique.
Conditioning is the term we use for the capacity of the body to use its different energy systems for specific tasks. The two main energy systems are aerobic and anaerobic.
BJJ competitors usually have a separate strength and conditioning routine to supplement their grappling training. However, rolling in it will seriously improve your aerobic and anaerobic endurance. Light technical rolling and drills can be used as a form of steady-state cardio because they can be done at a steady tempo for a long time.
Then hard rolling and brief maximum exertions will develop the anaerobic energy system. The two systems are linked together, and doing BJJ is a great way to develop both, not only for the specific demands of the sport but also for the overall health benefits.
BJJ is famous for not relying on strength but on technique to win. However, there are still strength gains from BJJ, even without additional resistance training. BJJ-specific moves exercise the muscles in basic human movements like the squat, hinge, push, and pull. While you won’t break any weightlifting records in these exercises from rolling, you will become stronger.
Holding a closed guard or body triangle develops the inner thighs, working from the bottom on triangles and armbars will fire up the core. Various chokes will work on the biceps, to name a few strength-building movements in BJJ. But grip strength is the most significant area where you will see improvement.
So while BJJ does not directly build bigger muscles, it does build serious isometric strength in them.
Greater Mobility and Flexibility
Many BJJ positions require decent flexibility and range of motion, so most, if not all, BJJ academies include some form of stretching during classes. Everything in jiu-jitsu requires flexibility and mobility, both in the joints and other tissues, so doing mobility and flexibility exercises is a necessary part of the curriculum.
Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to execute certain moves, having better mobility is key to avoiding injuries on the mats and in your daily life and is a crucial component of longevity.
Mental Benefits of BJJ
The physical benefits of BJJ may be immense. Still, one can argue they are overshadowed by the mental benefits that come with training in jiu-jitsu. Of course, they go hand in hand and are responsible for each other. Still, the psychological aspect may be even more important because it crosses over into every part of life, not just sports and self-defense.
Develop Confidence and Mental Fortitude
You will inevitably build mental toughness and confidence in yourself by constantly dealing with difficult situations like being strangled from behind repeatedly or trying to escape from a mount.
These important qualities will take time to develop. Still, by progressing through a martial art as difficult as BJJ and climbing the ranks, which few of those who start do, you inevitably feel more confident you can achieve anything you set your sights on.
I can argue that mental focus is one of today’s most essential and critically missing mental traits. The oceans of information we are forced to process for work, pleasure, and everyday life have nearly destroyed our ability to concentrate.
But you can regain some of it by training in BJJ. The complex nature of the techniques combined with the physical demands and constant feedback from partners and opponents means you can only learn something in BJJ if you give it your full attention.
Learning how to fully focus while on the mats is not so different from concentrating on anything else in life, despite the more distractions outside of the gym, and it’s a precious life skill.
In time, you may enter what people call the “flow state,” similar to the concept of mushin in Japanese martial arts. Then your entire being will be absorbed by grappling, and you will be at your best. Entering this state is challenging but is one of the most rewarding feelings.
The comparisons between BJJ and chess are widespread for a reason. Each position and each submission have different offensive and defensive specifics that must be considered. In the more advanced levels, each move is a setup for something that will happen a few moves later. This type of cerebral approach will increase your problem-solving skills on and off the mats.
Furthermore, you will constantly meet different styles and moves you may not be familiar with, and you will have to react and adapt to them. Regardless of whether you succeed or fail, you will be doing complex problem-solving.
I have yet to find a better stress reliever than martial arts. There are numerous times I’ve entered the gym with problems and felt infinitely better after the session. There are other effective stress relief methods, but none offer everything BJJ does.
You get the physical exertion, but you have no choice but to focus on what is happening in front of you. You cannot be distracted while grappling, even if it’s a friendly roll. BJJ also lets you vent out aggression in a controlled environment with a low chance of hurting you or anyone else.
Nothing can clear your mind better than BJJ and martial arts in general.
BJJ started as a comprehensive self-defense system. Many people started and still stick to it because of its effectiveness in combat. Being capable of handling a real-life altercation requires a combination of physical and mental skills and abilities, which might be BJJ’s biggest benefit.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu has a stellar record in many fighting avenues. First, the Gracie family tested and perfected the art by fighting in no-rules challenges against different martial artists. Then MMA came along and cemented BJJ as a great fighting style.
One of the best things about BJJ for self-defense is it allows you to resolve a conflict with the level of violence you choose. You may subdue an opponent without harming him, put him to sleep for a few seconds, or severely injure him. BJJ will give you the ability to choose.
Self-defense is much more than knowing how to fight. Very often, it’s more important to be confident in your skills and have the ability to keep a clear mind during intense situations. These two will allow you to diffuse most situations before they turn violent.
But if this happens, the constant training against resisting opponents and especially experience in competition will prove invaluable because you will have a drastically better chance of reacting adequately and ending the situation in your favor.
BJJ brings amazing benefits to the mind and body. It is a solid workout that works the entire body and all energy systems. It is excellent for weight loss and developing mobility and flexibility. Then it is one of the best stress relievers out there and builds tremendous confidence and mental fortitude on top of all the other mental health benefits.
The list can go on for a long time, but these BJJ benefits must be more than enough to motivate you to start or keep you on the right track if you are already on it.