The Top 10 Benefits of Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu- The Gentle Art
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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu | The Gentle Art
Did you know that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (or BJJ for short) is one of the safest full-contact martial arts practices? According to a study published by The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, it leads to fewer injuries than Wrestling, Taekwondo, MMA, and Judo.
Beyond the safety factor (which is a major plus for a lot of people), there are plenty of other reasons to consider Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as your martial art of choice.
Read on to learn more about the benefits that come with consistent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. You’ll also learn about the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and discover some additional interesting facts about this popular sport.
What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a popular form of martial arts. The name derives from the Japanese words “Jū,” which means “gentle,” and “Jutsu,” which means “art.” Literally, Jiu-Jitsu translates to “gentle art.”
What does this “gentle art” entail, though? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a predominantly ground-based practice. It uses principles like leverage, angles, timing, and pressure, plus an in-depth knowledge of the human anatomy, to non-violently achieve a submission from your opponent.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is unique, in part, because of the emphasis it places on groundwork. It doesn’t use a lot of strikes and kicks, unlike other martial arts forms. Instead, the focus is on close-contact grappling, plus carefully executed chokes (like a simple cross collar choke or the famous Triangle choke) and joint manipulations.
The History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
How did a Brazilian martial arts form with a Japanese name come to be so popular in the U.S. and throughout the world? Here’s a brief history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to get you up to speed.
Modern Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stems from Japanese Jiu Jitsu, which found its way to South America in the early 1900s.
This form of Jiu Jitsu, however, dates back thousands of years (at least 4,000 years). There’s even evidence of Buddhist monks in India practicing it to protect themselves while they traveled without harming their attackers.
From here, Jiu-Jitsu spread to medieval Japan, where it was transformed into an effective form of hand-to-hand combat.
In 1915, Mitsuyo Maeda, a famous Japanese judoka traveled to Brazil and began teaching Jiu-Jitsu and judo (which weren’t viewed as separate disciplines at the time). Three of Maeda’s first students (two brothers, Carlos and Helio Gracie, and Luiz Françawent) went on to create the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of today.
The Gracies and Françawent all worked hard to turn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into a distinct martial arts form. Decades later, in the early 1970s, it made its way to the United States, where it grew slowly until it reached the mainstream in the 1990s.
In 2002, the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation was founded by Carlos Gracie, Jr. Today, the federation hosts competitions throughout the world, many of which take place in the U.S.
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Top 10 Benefits of Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
There are lots of reasons to take up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. Here are 10 of the most noteworthy ones to keep in mind:
1. Learn Basic Self-Defense Skills
Every year, more than 800,000 aggravated assaults take place throughout the United States. Do you know how to defend yourself if you’re attacked or feel threatened?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches you how to sharpen your self-defense skills so that you can stay safe and feel confident in your ability to protect yourself.
One of the most interesting things about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that it doesn’t rely on kicking, punching, or lunging the way many other forms of martial arts do. Instead of learning how to strike down an attacker, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will teach you how to close the distance and control them.
The strategies taught in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes are so effective that many police officers learn them (through specialized training programs, not everyday gym classes) so they can defuse tense situations without permanently injuring the person they’re trying to contain.
2. Reduce Stress
Exercise of any kind can be an incredible stress reliever. Exercise causes your body to produce endorphins, which are chemical messengers associated with a positive mood, reduced stress levels, and reduced pain.
If you’re looking for a form of exercise that helps you to fight stress while also getting in a great workout, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an excellent choice.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires a great deal of mental focus and dedication. You can’t be grappling with an opponent and simultaneously worrying about the report you need to type up for your boss. You must be in the moment, and many people find that they go on to be more present throughout the day after they’ve been training regularly.
Because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is naturally a more aggressive sport, it also gives you a chance to blow off steam and let out your frustrations in a healthy way. Whether you’re feeling annoyed at your boss or fed up with the amount of traffic you face every day on your commute, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will help you to release the tension and feel more at ease.
3. Improve Problem-Solving Skills
Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can also help you to become a better problem solver. These classes are not just about training your body. They help you to strengthen your mind, too!
When you take your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, you’ll learn right away that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to training with an opponent. You’ll need to create different strategies and fine-tune your technique to get them to submit.
Over time, many people who train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu find that their critical thinking skills improve. They’re able to look at problems from different angles and come up with unique ways to solve them.
Better critical thinking serves you in all areas of life, whether you’re watching the news or trying to deal with a difficult project at work.
4. Meet New Friends
Taking fitness classes is a great way to meet new friends and build your community, especially if you’ve just moved to a new place and haven’t had a chance to create a new network yet.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in particular, is great for community-building. People come to BJJ classes from all walks of life. From stay-at-home moms to seniors looking for a new way to work out, everyone is welcome in a BJJ gym or studio.
If you train consistently, you’ll get to know your classmates very well (after all, you’re going to be rolling around on the floor with them), and you’ll likely find that some of them become great friends.
5. Lose Weight
If you’re looking to shed some extra body fat and lose weight, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great form of exercise. You can burn a lot of calories during a typical Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, which will help you to achieve your fitness goals much faster.
It’s also easier to be consistent with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu than many other forms of exercise.
If you enjoy your workouts, you’re going to be more likely to stick with them. Because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu challenges your mind as well as your body, it can be a lot more engaging than running on the treadmill or riding a stationary bike to nowhere.
6. Gain Strength
Not only does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu help you to burn calories and lose weight, but it can also help you to build muscle and get stronger.
When training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you use every single muscle in your body. It’s the ultimate full-body workout and ensures that no muscle group gets neglected.
The longer you’ve trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the more likely you are to notice improvements in other forms of exercise, too. For example, if you lift weights, you may find that you can lift more than you could previous because you’re doing so much additional strength training work outside of your traditional lifting sessions.
7. Improve Sleep Quality
Once you get started and stick with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes for a while, you’ll likely find that you have no trouble falling asleep once your head hits the pillow.
People who exercise regularly tend to enjoy better sleep (both in terms of quality and quantity) than those who do not. If you struggle with insomnia or just don’t wake up feeling as well-rested as you’d like, taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may be exactly what you need.
First of all, exercising helps to tire you out so that you actually want to go to sleep when nighttime rolls around. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is particularly beneficial in this area because it works your body and your mind. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can keep you up at night even when you’re physically tired.
8. Develop Self-Discipline
Because it is so strategic and mentally demanding, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great tool for those who want to develop a stronger sense of self-discipline.
The best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners are those who understand restraint, perseverance, and accountability. They’re comfortable with being uncomfortable, and they also know that it takes patience to see results. They’re willing to put in the work, day after day and week after week, to develop their skills and become better at the sport they love.
Even the simple act of showing up at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes week after week is good for those who need help developing discipline. Over time, it’ll become a habit to go to class and train, even on days when you’re not feeling particularly thrilled about it.
As you become consistent and start noticing changes in your performance, as well as the way you feel outside of class, you’ll have an easier time maintaining momentum and getting better.
9. Increase Confidence
When you train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you’ll find that you’re regularly met with new obstacles and limitations, and you have to learn how to overcome those challenges. Doing this over and over again helps you to build mental fortitude and become more confident in other areas of your life.
Learning how to defend yourself, while also getting stronger mentally and physically, is a great way to build your confidence and self-esteem. If you can solve problems on the mat, you can solve problems at work and with your family members, right?
10. Learn Humility
Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can help you to feel more confident and sure of yourself. However, this confidence will not turn to arrogance (at least in the majority of cases) because BJJ also does a great job of teaching you humility.
It doesn’t matter how skilled you are. The truth is that there are going to be times when you can’t break free from your opponent.
There will be times when you feel in your zone and that you can takedown and submit everyone, but there will also be times when someone else is taking you down and forcing you to submit.
There’s a lot of giving and taking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and you’ll learn very quickly that, no matter how good you get, there’s always room for improvement.
How To Get Started With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
At this point, you’re probably pretty interested in experiencing the benefits Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has to offer. However, if you’ve never taken a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class before, it can be a bit intimidating figuring out where to go and how to get started.
If you’re in this position right now, follow these steps and you’ll have chosen a great studio and class before you know it:
Start Searching for a Gym/Studio
The first step to training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is finding a gym or studio in your area. Most people don’t want to travel very far to get to their studio, so the closer it is the better.
Start your search by simply looking online for studios near you. Make a list of potential options and take note of how close they are to your home or office. If you live on Long Island, Please contact us for more information!
Ask the Right Questions
Of course, proximity isn’t the only factor to take into account when choosing a studio.
Once you have a shortlist of potential options, your next job is to get in touch with the studio owner and ask them some questions. You may want to visit the studio in person, too, to see how clean it is and get a sense of the vibe at how it aligns with your specific needs and personality.
As far as questions go, the answers to these important questions can help you find a studio that provides high-quality instruction and a supportive atmosphere:
Are There Beginner-Friendly Classes?
Ideally, you’ll choose a gym or studio that offers classes specifically for beginners. These kinds of classes allow you to learn alongside other beginners, which can help you to feel more confident and less intimidated.
Some studios also offer private lessons for beginners. This can be a good option for those who are extra nervous and want to master some basic movements and skills before they join a group class.
How Many Female Students Do You Typically Have in a Class?
If you’re a female and want to train alongside other females, find out what the male-to-female ratio is at the studio before you sign up.
Some studios have a pretty even split, whereas others are mostly male-dominated. If this will be an issue for you, ask before you agree to sign any kind of contract.
How Much Does Membership Cost?
Of course, you need to think about your budget and what you can afford to spend on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. Before you sign up, find out how much classes cost, either individually or per month.
You may also want to ask if the studio offers any kind of bundle or another option that gives you a bit of a discount if you pay a larger sum upfront. This can be a good way to save money and show that you’re willing to commit to the studio long-term.
What Is Your Class Schedule?
Make sure the studio has classes available at times that work with your schedule. Do they offer classes in the morning and evening? What about weekend classes?
Take note of this before signing up so you can ensure you show up to class regularly. After all, you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on classes you can never get to, right?
Do You Require Specific Uniforms?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studios require students to wear a Gi, which is a special uniform consisting of a jacket, pants, and belt.
Other classes are “no-Gi,” which means you will have to wear a rash guard. This is typically shorts and a long or short sleeve tighter shirt.
Find out what kinds of classes each studio offers before you make a decision.
Do You Offer Competition Opportunities?
Some studios are purely recreational. Others provide opportunities for students to compete against other students, both from the same studio and from other studios in the area.
If you’re interested in competing one day, this might be something worth considering. It shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all, though. After all, as a beginner, you likely won’t be competing anytime soon anyway. Professor Milton Regis, 6th degree black belt, is the owner/operator of Kioto BJJ alongside his wife and 1st degree black belt, Melissa Regis. Together they run one of the largest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments in New York, Pride BJJ. Competitors from all over the world come and compete in this tournament.
Can I See Reviews or Testimonials? Can I Talk to Current Students?
Talking to other students, or at least reading reviews or testimonials from them, can help you get a better sense of what the studio has to offer.
Do people seem generally happy with the training they’re receiving? Have they been members for a long time? Would they recommend the studio to someone else?
Don’t just pay attention to star ratings when pursuing reviews. Look for answers to these questions to see whether or not the studio seems like a good fit for you.
What Kind of Contracts Do You Offer?
Some studios require you to sign a long-term contract (they may even offer a lifetime contract option), while others are fine with month-to-month payments.
Find out what the case is for the studio you’re thinking about joining. That way, you can plan accordingly and won’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises later.
Review Your Contract
Speaking of contracts, once you’ve chosen a studio based on the answers to the questions above, your next job is to review the studio’s contract. When you sign it, what, exactly, are you agreeing to?
Check the fine print and take special note of things like the day payments are due, fees for late payments, fees for canceling contracts early, etc. Do your due diligence now so that you can enjoy your classes and don’t get hit with any surprises.
Invest in Some Gear
Does your studio require you to wear a Gi to class? If so, you’ll need to invest in a Gi jacket and Gi pants, as well as a belt, a rash guard, and a pair of compression shorts to wear underneath.
For No-Gi classes, in most cases, you can simply wear a rash guard and compression shorts.
For both Gi and No-Gi classes, it’s a good idea to have a pair of flip-flops in your duffel bag, too. During the actual class, you will be barefoot. However, you should wear flip-flops when you’re not on the mat to protect your feet.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a brand new wardrobe for your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. However, investing in a few quality pieces will help you to feel more comfortable and confident when you show up for your first class.
Tips For Your First Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class
When the day of your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class arrives, it’s understandable if you feel a little nervous. Don’t let nerves stop you from trying something new, though!
Remember these tips and you’ll be set up for a fun, successful first class:
Get Clean Before Class
If you have the time, try to get clean before you head out the door for your first class. Even if you don’t have time to take a full shower before leaving, at least brush your teeth and put on some deodorant.
Remember, you’re going to be getting up close and personal with your classmates, and they’ll appreciate it if you’ve taken a moment to freshen up first. You’ll likely find that you feel more energized and confident, too.
Arrive Early and Introduce Yourself
Nothing will make you feel more awkward or uncomfortable than showing up late for your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.
Make an effort to be early so you can introduce yourself to the instructor and some of the other studio members. This will also give you a chance to get the lay of the land, find a locker for your belongings, get changed, etc.
Go in with an Open Mind
Do your best to go into your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class with an open mind. You can research the average class format beforehand, but you’ll never know exactly what to expect until you’re there in the class with everyone else.
Be flexible and willing to go with the flow. Remember, the Professor will know that it’s your first class (this is why it’s so important to introduce yourself when you first arrive) and will help to guide you and keep you on track with everyone else.
Be Okay with Being “Bad”
Everyone starts Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and every other form of exercise, for that matter) as a beginner. Remember, even the most skilled people in your classes once knew nothing.
It’s okay if it takes you a while to feel comfortable on the mat and get the hang of different movements. If you stick with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training for a few months (and beyond), you’ll start to feel more confident and in control of your body.
By this point, you’ll also have started noticing some of the benefits of the practice, from reduced stress to increased strength. As a result, you’ll likely be even more motivated to continue showing up and putting in the work.
Consider Sticking Around to Stretch
Once the class is over, you might be tempted to run out the door so you can go home and shower. Consider sticking around to stretch for a few minutes first, though.
Hanging out to stretch (if the option is offered, of course) can help you minimize some of the soreness and stiffness you’ll inevitably feel after your first class. It also gives you a chance to talk to some of your classmates, get tips, and just get to know them better in general.
Take Care of Yourself Afterward
Make sure you refuel properly after your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class (and every class afterward).
Proper refueling includes eating a meal that contains protein and carbohydrates to repair your muscles. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or just improve your overall health, taking the time to properly refuel will help you to see the kinds of results you’re after sooner.
Try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Today
Now that you know more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, from its history to the benefits of training, are you ready to give it a try? Keep the tips listed above in mind so you can choose the right class and get the most out of it!