Most people have never trained in any grappling at all (Wrestling, Sambo, Judo and BJJ, and are at a total loss when it comes to being able to defend a takedown or defend themselves on the ground. Big, strong, small or weak everyone, with proper training and application, can learn the fine art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). It builds character, develops critical thinking skills, helps you learn to fire under pressure, relieves stress, teaches humility, improves flexibility, and is great cross training for athletes of any sport…including one of our faves, Crossfit!
Here’s a list of our top 8 reasons why you should train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ):
Reason #1: Knowing How To Defend Yourself Can Mean Life or Death…Literally
Being big and strong is one thing, but knowing real world self defense is another. How often in a fight will you find yourself doing an overhead press? Maybe if your wrestling WWE style, but when have you ever seen someone in a fight have the time, or strength, to lift someone over their head and toss them?
Yes, being big and strong can certainly aid you in deflecting attacks; however, as the Gracie family has proven time and time again, it is more than just sheer strength and brawn that defines a fight.Often times, the victory goes to the better strategist with the best execution of said strategy.
The point remains, most altercations go to the ground…now whether the number is 90% of all altercations or 62%, the fact remains…Fights end up on the ground and if you’re not ready to defend that scenario you can find yourself in a pretty deep hole.
Without even a basic understanding of takedown defense you leave yourself wide open to getting taken down to the ground and injured.
Someone, even a white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), who has been training for only 6 months, stands a better chance of defending themselves than an individual who has been working out in the gym for 10 years.
Why is this so?
Because the person who trains in any grappling sport understands the principle of leverage, and can use this leverage to their advantage to choke their opponent, break a limb, or control the situation and call for help.
An asset that can be the difference between living another day… or not.
Reason #2: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Develops Critical Thinking Under Pressure (Like in a FIGHT <wink>)
Most people think that in order to avoid fights or to defend yourself you need to be bigger, stronger, or faster than your opponent and be able to throw a harder punch. The result, hundreds of people lifting weights in the gym to train their muscles, but ignore their minds…
In Crossfit, the body is challenged and pushed beyond physical limitations to achieve new goals, new levels, new personal bests, but how often is the mind pushed to these same limits?
Anyone who plays chess will tell you that the mental game is as hard, if not harder, than the physical aspect of most sports. When challenged with an opponent who appears stronger than you, and plays a powerful position on the board first, most people will throw their hands up in the air and renounce their position letting their opponent beat them.
This is the same in real world fights, many people will succumb to the mental pressures of the battle and give themselves up to fear rather than think critically through the challenge and come out the other side victorious.
When one finds themselves in a situation that is less than favorable in Crossfit it can mean simply not reaching their goal that day, or not being able to achieve a new personal best.
If caught in an unfavorable position in BJJ, then an arm can be broken, a shoulder can be torn, someone can be rendered unconscious, and of course (the logical option) they might be forced to yield to their opponent and tap (which on the streets is not just a light tap on the shoulder of your training partner).
These are all very real situations with very real repercussions for the individual involved, and for that reason there is truly ‘pressure’ to perform. This same ‘pressure’ is what helps so many people solve their other problems in life, by using this “critical thinking under pressure” ability that they develop through their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice.
BJJ also teaches you to embrace the position of discomfort, to think your way out of the negative situation, and progress from a position of weakness to a position of strength and control.
A valuable skill set to have especially when coupled with increased strength and athleticism that Crossfit provides.
Reason #3: A Lesson In Humility
Another, less talked about benefit, yet very important aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the humility training.
Where most people walk around with their heads in the sky, and feeling like there is nothing that can hurt them, those who train BJJ know just how fragile the human body is and how easily even the largest of opponents can succumb to the pressure created through this system of leverage.
The leverage that BJJ gives anyone, regardless of size, is remarkable and is exactly what gives BJJ practitioners such confidence and clarity when dealing with unfavorable situations, including street fights.
Some would say BJJ gives the practitioner great power, and with this great power comes great responsibility…
Reason #4: Improved One’s Flexibility And Range Of Motion
Have you ever seen the semi-pro body builder in the gym? You know, the guy who benches like 350 lbs, but can’t really tie his shoes without help? Yeah, that guy.
As I’m sure you don’t want to look, or be, that limited in range of motion, it becomes ever important to make stretching a part of your weekly routine.
Fortunately, for those who train Jiu Jitsu on a weekly basis, much of this flexibility and range of motion training is incorporated into the movements, such as triangle chokes, getting to guard, in warmups and in the cool down period after rolling.
With all the stretching, movement drills, raising and lowering of the hips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it’s no surprise that students realize improved hip flexibility and strength through their martial arts practice, which directly translates into stronger squats and deadlifts.
Reason #5: A Strong Community aspect
If you’re a fan of group workouts, community building, or getting together with close friends and exercising, then there’s nothing better than fighting for your life for 45 minutes to an hour. Then shaking hands with your partner and enjoying a cup of coffee or tea together afterwards.
Just like how you grow close to your fellow workout partners at your local Box, so to do members of the same Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School consider one another family. There is a sense of comradery between rolling partners and often in the greater community as a whole as well.
It is not uncommon to see two fierce competitors, who are fighting for a title or rolling hard on the mats for an hour or more, to tap each other multiple times only to then see them shake hands and hug afterwards.
Reason #6 Being Able to Train On Your Rest Days
Cross training sports can provide massive benefit to athletes of all caliber, from the certified pro to the weekend warrior, everyone needs a bit of a rest on the old muscles and joints.
With that being said athletes who train in Crossfit not only need down time from the heavy lifting and hard circuit training, but also from the sometimes insane machismo that finds itself into some Crossfitter circles.
This is where a martial arts practice comes in.
Allowing the muscles to rest from heavy lifting exercises and instead performing higher levels of cardiovascular exercise can allow for increased blood flow which in turn can result in improved recovery times.
Don’t believe me? Go take a bike ride or go for a casual walk on your next ‘off day’ and see how you feel the following day. You’re likely to experience less soreness, and improved recovery time due to the removal of the lactic acid built up from your Crossfit workout earlier.
Reason #7: Philosophy It Is The Gentle Art After All…
BJJ is often known as the “gentle art”, and it is for good reason, one doesn’t need to be a herculean specimen to perform well.
Where Crossfit is about intensity, athleticism, and is home to modern day gladiators, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more of a meditative practice where you can get out of your own head and experience total presence.
Where Crossfit teaches you to be fast, strong, and explosive, BJJ teaches you to be strategic, methodical, diligent, and concise.
BJJ can provide the yin to your yang, as some would say, and for this reason would be a great addition to your existing crossfit training.
Reason #8: Anaerobic Activity and Cross Performance More Gas In The Tank…
Many athletes who train Crossfit find that they can excel at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu after they have learned how to forge their explosiveness and knee jerk reactions and instead learn to apply pressure, strategy and skill to their art form.
This ability to operate in a state of anaerobic stress directly carries over into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and for that reason Crossfitters have a serious advantage over the average man. When many people would tire out due to lack of aerobic ability, Crossfitters are often accustomed to this strain and are able to easily power through it.
The founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Helio Gracie, was often described as “weak” and “frail”, yet was able to learn how to apply leverage and skill to overcome bigger and stronger opponents and win multiple fights against competitors from around the world.
If a weak young man, who was told at the age of 16 to only observe because he was too weak and fragile to practice Jiu Jitsu, could go on to be one of the most notable martial arts figures of his time, then think what you can do with an increased stamina strength and athleticism that is developed in Crossfit.