Usually the word “addiction” has a negative connotation attached to it – but as students of jiu-jitsu we know that jiu-jitsu is a POSITIVE addiction for many of us.
Why is jiu-jitsu so addictive?
There are numerous reasons.
1) The thrill of learning new techniques
Your first couple of years learning bjj will the most exciting of your study. Every class reveals a new technique for solving a problem that you have been having.
One of my new students told me that she was excited for every class to see something new. She had been doing some boxing training but found that it was more limited in terms of number of different techniques. Yes, there is an art to the combinations and footwork and movement,…but it is the same 6 punches that we see in boxing each session. In contrast, you can be continually exposed to new techniques in bjj throughout your training.
You can bet that in a Gracie Barra somewhere in the world right now, 2 students of bjj are putting their minds together and asking “What if we try it this way instead?” and innovating a new technique.
2) The satisfaction of problem solving
What are games and puzzles so popular among children and adults alike?
As humans, we get a sense of satisfaction out of trying to solve problems and experiencing a great feeling when we have that “Ah ha!” moment and solve the problem.
Rolling is a situation where you are a problem solving both offense and defense at the same time, at a rapid rate. Top jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher says that jiu-jitsu is “dynamic problem solving”. We are forced to constantly solve problems (like our training partners trying to collar choke us!) and those problems change as we try to solve them.
Many have heard jiu-jitsu defined as human chess.
There are few better feelings than attempting a technique that your instructor showed you and…IT WORKED! You have been getting trapped under mount for a long time, but today that escape you tried solved the problem!
3) The endorphin rush
There are 2 parts to the great mental feelings we experience from training. The first is the freedom of being 100% immersed in rolling. Whatever your problems are in the rest of your life, you temporarily forget them when that blue belt with the great spider guard is trying to triangle you.
Your brain switches channels from work and dealing with life to reacting to your opponent’s movements in the roll. You are in the moment completely.
Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard said “When I train, I am free.”
The second is that feeling of mental clarity and exhilaration as you are trying to catch your breath after a good roll. Your heart and lungs are working and fresh oxygenated blood is flooding your muscles and brain.
Endorphins are released in the body after strenuous exercise and these naturally occurring hormones brings us a feeling of well-being and happiness. For a period, all of our worldly concerns are put aside and we get to enjoy jiu-jitsu.
The best part is that we get to meet our friends and do it all over again next class!
Good training to you!
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam