With the New Year just around the corner, many of us are setting our goals and resolutions for 2015. For many it will be to lose weight, get in shape, learn a new skill, and meet new people. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great way to reach these goals and resolutions and improve your overall quality of life. If you have been on the fence about taking up Jiu Jitsu or just want a new hobby or challenge, right now is a great time to take the plunge and start doing research to find the right school for you and start training in 2015. Here are 10 reasons why you should start training in Jiu Jitsu.
- Practical Self Defense – Jiu Jitsu has been marketed as one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense where the smaller and less athletic individual can defend themselves against larger and stronger assailants. While traditional martial arts still require speed and coordination in order to execute kick and punch combinations and primarily practice through katas and forms, Jiu Jitsu relies on efficient techniques that are practiced in live sparring situations that are closer to simulating a one-on-one situation. Many techniques taught in Jiu Jitsu are applicable in street self defense including clinching an attacker while on your feet, defending yourself on the ground off your back, defending chokes, when and how to apply over hooks and under hooks, and escaping an assailant who grabs you from behind.
- Great Workout/Get in Shape – After a 60 or 90-minute Jiu Jitsu class, your body and gi will be soaked in sweat. Jiu Jitsu is a great workout that incorporates every part of your body. From the warm ups consisting of jogging and calisthenics to the continued movement throughout the classes, you will be expanding and contracting muscles you might not of ever used before. Even for experienced practitioners, this will be a great workout especially if they work with a heavy training partner or drill their techniques at a faster pace. After the warm ups and drilling, the rolling will really elevate the heart rate. You and your training partner will now be providing resistance and will be working to advance position and submit your training partner. Not all rounds of rolling need to be a 100% battle, especially if there is a major gap in skill level or size. Training partners can flow roll or S-train for a great cardio workout that can incorporate the techniques learned during the class. BJJ classes have been reported to burn between 400 to 1,000 calories per session depending on your size and the pace and intensity of the classes.
- Learn Something New- One of the ways to keep your brain sharp and find happiness in life is to keep on learning new skills in life. Once we leave school and move on to the workforce, life can become very monotonous and dull. Unlike going to a traditional gym or marching to the beat of a spin or aerobics instructor, you are constantly learning new self-defense and body movement skills in Jiu Jitsu. The curriculum at most academies incorporates learning practical self-defense, fundamental movements and body positioning, transitions, submissions, fighting off an assailant, and strategy for sports competition. Jiu Jitsu is constantly evolving with new techniques and the learning for both the novice and the more experiences practitioners is a continual ongoing process for all levels.
- Meet New People – A few years ago, one of my former coworkers decided to move back to Seattle after living in Los Angeles for one year. Before he left, he told me “for a big city, this could be a very lonely place.” After college, it could be hard to meet new people. It is even harder to meet quality people you would want to interact on with on a daily or weekly basis. Jiu Jitsu classes are a great way to meet new people. It could take time to warm up to classmates and vice versa, but if you give it time, you will make great friends. Part what makes Jiu Jitsu practitioners very friendly is that they work out their stress and are constantly humbled on the mat, which keeps their ego in check. Joe Rogan had this great quote about people in Jiu Jitsu during his black belt speech.
“I think the more I train and the more I meet people who are in jiu jitsu…people who are in jiu jitsu and train on a regular basis, they’re healthier people. Their egos are healthier. Especially men. They’re easier to talk to. They’re easier to hang out with. Because they’re facing reality on a regular basis.”
- More Fun Than a Regular Gym – Most of us have been members of a regular gym and we know the routine. There is leg day, chest day, back day, cardio day and it is a very monotonous routine that can get very boring, very quickly. There is also a feeling of individualism and isolation when it comes to going to a regular gym. You might have a workout partner or friend, but in many cases you go in there and workout with the weights, machines, and treadmill on your own for an hour or so and go home. There is not the same sense of community and other interaction with others like there is a Jiu Jitsu class.
- Test Your Comfort Zone – In life we often get comfortable in our routines of school, work, socializing, family time, and paying bills. There is safety in the comfort of doing what we do and knowing what we know. In many cases we are good at being a good employee, business owner, friend or parent. What happens when you start something new from scratch as an adult where it is almost guaranteed you will struggle for a certain amount of time before you start getting better? While the struggle is painful, the personal growth and pride from overcoming a challenge is very rewarding and can open your eyes to other opportunities in life to help reach your human potential.
- Safer Sparring than Striking Martial Arts – The UFC and striking martial arts such as Muay Thai look fun, but as an adult it is hard to go into the office or explain to friends and family why you have a black eye and bruises all over your body. With Jiu Jitsu, you can safely spar and practice the techniques with real-life resistance without the risk of getting punched in the face and suffering head trauma. The caveat is that in order to safely spar, you need to attend an academy where the staff stresses safety and there are training partners that are both technically sound and take care of their training partners. Additionally, you will need to be responsible for the safety of both yourself and your training partners, by having body control, being careful when you are attempting submissions, and tapping/submitting whenever you are uncomfortable. This will take time to learn and watching how your peers spar will teach you how to move, pace yourself, and protect both you and your training partner.
- Relieve Stress – Life is very stressful with work, bills, schools, family, and traffic to name a few. Stress can cause many physical and mental health issues including headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. Training in Jiu Jitsu causes many chemical reactions in the body that help relieve stress, forget about our problems in life, and feel more satisfied and positive about life.
- Learn Humility –Through the process of training and sparring in Jiu Jitsu in the right environment, you will become a more humble and empathetic person. When you are starting as a new white belt, it will be a very overwhelming experience where you will be learning and practicing body movements and concepts that will challenge you both physically and mentally. There will be times where you will be lost and feel inadequate. Yet, at the same time, the right coaches and training partners who have gone through the same experiences will be helping you learn in a very patient manner. There will be times when you are sparring and you are caught in a submission where your opponent could tighten the hold, but doesn’t in order to protect your health and then teaches you how to escape the position. These experiences along your journey will teach you very practical human lessons on being kind, humble, patient, empathetic, and nurturing that you can apply to all aspects of your life.
- Build Confidence – The combination of many of the points above including learning something new, meeting new people, becoming more humble, testing your comfort zone, and learning to deal with stress are all parts of a recipe for building your self-confidence. There have been many inspiring success such as Joshua Palmer where Jiu Jitsu was the catalyst for weight loss and gaining the self-confidence to pursue and build a better life. This is one of many stories of people who have gained the confidence to pursue the life they deserve through Jiu Jitsu.