Crossfit; It can help with BJJ.

Writing this article, I already know I am going to get a variety of what I am assuming will be, negative responses.  I want to touch on an issue involving a sport that has been talked about quite frequently lately.  Can anyone guess what I am about to say? CROSSFIT! Do me a favor, right now, and do not even start off by arguing already that this is not a “sport.” It is.  If you actually take the time to look up the definition of the word “sport”, you will see that it is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” If crossfit isn’t physical exertion and skill, I don’t know what is.  Do you know the skill you need to have to be able to lift heavy with proper form? Probably not, because you most likely have never stepped foot in a crossfit gym.

I think what frustrates me the most is the mass amount of close-minded individuals who have bashed crossfit in claiming how dangerous it is or how stupid it is. Forgive me if I offend you, but you sound ignorant. As in, you clearly have no knowledge of the sport. Can you even name five people that you personally know that have gotten seriously injured? I can’t. To play devil’s advocate, I actually know more people that have gotten injured in BJJ, whether it is a competition injury or that new white belt who does not new proper technique yet, but that is beside the point. Saying Crossfit hurts people is saying spoons make people fat. It is just an uneducated statement. ANY sport carries its risks. That comes with the territory of each and every sport. Look at football. I do not see how having massive men tackling you into the ground, causing injuries such as concussions, is safe. But no one is complaining about that. (by the way, go Eagles!) A lot of bodybuilders bash on it as well. Well obviously you meatheads won’t like it. It doesn’t fit your goals, but don’t ruin it for the people whose goals it does fit. You need to remember there is a difference between the mom who goes to a crossfit gym to stay fit and then those who are trying to compete at an elite level. Everyone has different goals and objectives they want to reach. Oh, and to those who say they do not want to be the best at exercising, it honestly just sounds like you are worried you won’t be able to keep up or for whatever reason you are intimidated. It is okay though, you stick to sitting on the couch, eating that bag of chips. You go!

Another point I would like to make here is to those who are OCD about bad form and the dangers it could cause. Well, I really hate to burst your bubble, but there are more people lifting wrong in Planet Fitness then there are in a legitimate crossfit gym. Want to know why? Because if you join a well-established crossfit gym, you are going to have good coaches. The result of good coaches? Good form! Go figure, it is common sense.  The SAME thing goes for BJJ! If you join a good school and look into the credentials of the coach, you know you are going to be in good hands. However, if you join one of these “McDojos” you’re probably going to suffer an injury much sooner. There is a difference of someone going online to look up a crossfit workout and trying to do it at home with no supervision, and someone who actually belongs to a crossfit gym who receives the proper guidance. With any sport, you need to make sure you are with someone who has credentials backing them up. So if you get hurt in crossfit, it is your fault. You either didn’t listen to your coach, you’re in a bad gym, or maybe you were being stupid……but it is not the sport causing the injury.

My next point is directed at the article written by Olympian, Travis Stevens. I have a ton of respect for him but I read it and was confused. He says “I’ve seen a lot of Crossfit Gyms run out of people’s garages, rather than out of a business front.” That is strange because every Crossfit gym I know is an established business, so I am not sure where Travis lives but I would be interested in seeing these businesses in garages!  Another statement he made was “Crossfit is so far down the line in terms of helping people. It’s like trying to get an education by going to a library to read a few books.” That doesn’t even make sense. First you can actually learn a lot from going to the library, and I think more people should do it.  Secondly… there is no secondly actually. That statement is just too absurd. It has helped so many people, including myself.  Finally, the most ridiculous and untrue statement I read was “People have different needs for different sports, and not everyone in the room can do the same thing. Some people need to be faster, stronger, more explosive, or more flexible. At Crossfit it doesn’t matter: Pick up the ball, try to do what we’re doing, figure it out. There’s no structure involved.” This made me laugh out loud because of how invalid the statement is. Anyone who actually has stepped into a crossfit gym or has done it knows you can SCALE. What does that mean? It means that whatever the workout is, you actually do exactly the opposite of what Travis stated. You decide what is comfortable for you. If you cannot do the prescribed weight, then scale it down. If you cannot do a certain movement, you choose a modification. If you are unsure about any aspect of the workout, you ask your coach! With all due respect Travis, there is actually a ton of structure.



So let me talk about some positive points!

Crossfit is amazing. I love it as much as I love BJJ. Granted, I have always been somewhat athletic but these workouts are challenging yet fun. They push your body to do things you never thought you could do, leaving you with a great sense of accomplishment. I started crossfit a few months back (Crossfit West Chester represent!) and I have to say it has helped my strength and cardio so much in relation to BJJ. I could barely clean a 75 pound bar and now I am able to do 103 pounds AND with awesome form.  My cardio is through the roof. I can do round after round in BJJ and I can feel the difference. I am so much stronger, and my body overall feels fantastic. Combining crossfit with BJJ is the best decision I have ever made. Now, let me make this clear. I am not saying it will help your technique in BJJ. Crossfit and BJJ are totally different. I am saying it will improve your strength and conditioning. Plus you meet so many amazing people just like in BJJ.

Before you go bashing something you know nothing about, do your research. I know this may sound crazy to all you anti cross-fitters, but how about actually, dare I say it, try a class! Expand your workouts and try something new. I bet you would surprise yourself and really like it. If there is a movement you don’t like, such as the kipping pull up, then do a different version of it. Crossfit is not the devil of fitness. With any sport you decide to join, you need to be smart about it. It is up to YOU to know your body and its limitations. All you need to do is find a good gym with good coaches and you will see what I am talking about. For everyone to be bashing it and singling it out as such a dangerous sport is ridiculous, because all the negative points people point out can realistically be applied to every sport. I do not even know who started the whole crossfit bashing bandwagon, but I bet it is one person who had a bad experience because they weren’t in good hands. That does not mean the sport and its entirety should be categorized under that reputation. If people are happy with what they are doing , whether it be crossfit, Jiujitsu etc., then let them do it! If you do not like something for whatever reason, you are entitled to that opinion, but it is none of your concern of what others are doing with their life. If it is beneficial to your health, makes you happy and fit, I say do it!


Now….let the debate begin.



  1. I do jiu jitsu as well as run long distances. I like to think I do alright on the mat as well as on whatever road I'm running. I run because I feel better and more enthusiastic in my daily life. I feel like I seem alot nicer to be around if I have a heavy dose of endorphins coursing through me. that being said, helio did what he did with a great deal of adversity. he started teaching and made gracie jiu jitsu what it is, not because he was strong, but perhaps because he was NOT as strong as his brothers. they say necessity is the mother of invention, so when helio realized he couldn't beat his brothers at their own game, he modified some of the techniques to apply more leverage to give him an advantage. He applied brains over brawn. this was a man who couldn't do a pullup and occasionally became lightheaded running up flights of stairs. I'm not saying people shouldn't exercise outside of jiu jitsu, but I don't believe that it's how you become more skilled at jiu jitsu. After I tap someone out in class and they ask me "what could I have done better, you think?" I would never think to respond "well, maybe pick up a barbell, do some squats, go for a run, your cardio sucks, bro!"

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