The physical fitness benefits to the jiu-jitsu lifestyle include weight loss, increased flexibility, strength and endurance.
Less obvious but very important are the mental benefits. This writer is not a psychologist, but it is easy to observe the many ways that regular practitioners of bjj are happier.
1) Stress Relief
It is no secret that regular physical exercise is prescribed to alleviate the daily stresses of life that we are all subject to.
Instead of drinks after work, eating junk food (ways many people attempt to relax and change their mental state) going top the academy and getting a sweat going, burning away both stress and calories,.
I typically work for a few hours each morning before heading to the academy for the noon class. Often times I will be frustrated with some work problem or client interaction and head out the door tense muttering something like “I’d like to tell that person a thing or two!”
However, following a roll with friends and a period of time on the mat free from workaday cares, all of those huge problems miraculously have shrunk to a manageable size.
The client no longer seems so unreasonable and I am relaxed and able to return to work feeling clear headed and better equipped to handle my work.
2) Surrounded by Positive People
We tend to be shaped by our associations with the people we spend the most time around. Jim Rohn famously said that we are an aggregate of the 5 people that we spend the most time with in our lives.
Following the jiu-jitsu lifestyle we find ourselves in the company of training partners several times a week who are committed to a being healthy, self improvement and a more moderate approach to those lifestyle factors (ex. alcohol, fast foods etc.) that plague the health of so many average people.
Socializing around bjj friends, you are more likely to eat healthier, drink less alcohol, meet for more active activities like walking / hiking outdoors than hanging around a bar for happy hour.
In general, people following the jiu-jitsu lifestyle on and off the mat are more focused on positive self improvement and less likely to have a negative, give up easily mentality.
The cumulative effect of hanging around positive people will influence your own positive habits.
3) Self Esteem
Self esteem is an over used buzz word in the popular media. For our purposes let’s define it simply as how you see yourself in a positive or negative light.
Increased ability to defend yourself can lead to more confidence in dealing with people. But there is a more subtle aspect to a positive self image.
When you regularly attend class, keep to a healthy diet and avoid the unhealthy habits, you know that you are doing the “work” and keeping your agreements with yourself.
I had an old friend who was a horrible procrastinator. They would promise so many things and then fail to follow through with the actions required. One could observe how conflicted they were that they KNEW what they were supposed to be doing and yet had to acknowledge the truth that they were NOT doing what they said.
One could feel their stress and inner conflict about being undisciplined and self blame. This often leads to even more bad habits and further procrastination to escape the stress. It was a vicious cycle.
In contrast, regular attendance at the bjj academy builds your self discipline and you demonstrate to yourself that you are in control of your self and your life.
When you look in the mirror you may say to yourself “I am really doing it. I am the kind of person who keeps my promises to myself and others.”
That is a great way to face the world and life’s challenges!
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt from GB Calgary, Canada