The highly physical martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is not only an excellent form of self-defense for men, women, and children; it also has several health benefits. Unlike karate or other martial arts where the larger or more powerful opponent often has the advantage, BJJ has a more tactical approach where strategies and techniques including take-downs, kick-boxing and hand-to-hand combat make it possible for a smaller but more strategic opponent to be victorious. People who initially train in BJJ are happy to find that their self-defense training has also made it possible for them get in the best shape of their lives. Following are a few health benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and tips for getting started.

Health Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

1.  Low Impact Aerobic Workout

While most people recognize BJJ training as a powerful way to learn self-defense, they are often not aware of potential heart health benefits. The low-impact aerobic exercise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent alternative to running and other popular cardio options. Blending low impact cardio with short bursts of intense moves helps build cardiovascular endurance and aerobic capacity.

2.  Builds Strength

BJJ helps create a stronger body by working almost every muscle including some that may otherwise get little use during the day. Techniques involve not only being able to maneuver your own body but also using your weight to control your opponent’s movements as you apply varying amounts of pressure to gain the upper hand. Although strength training might be needed when the goal is to increase the size of your muscles, BJJ strengthens your body as you build muscle tone and muscle mass.

3.  Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Heart Health

Not surprisingly, the intensity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu makes it an excellent option for people wanting to reduce their blood pressure and improve their overall heart health. Regular intense exercise can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Additionally, the risk for stroke and other cardiovascular disease is significantly lower with moderate exercise.

4.  Improves Flexibility

Stretching and conditioning warm-up activities are an essential part of BJJ to prepare the body for exercise. With consistent practice, these activities help prevent muscle injury and improve flexibility. Additionally, many of the grappling movements, drills, and submissions in BJJ help stretch the body and increase flexibility in many areas including hips, arms, legs, and back.

5.  Improves Mental Health

Practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires you to confidently evaluate and follow through on the tactics necessary to beat your opponent. Even if your opponent is larger than you are or more advanced in the art, BJJ training teaches you to focus your thinking and develop strategies that help you persist and ultimately win under physically painful and mentally trying circumstances. From learning and drilling hundreds of techniques to concentrating and pushing through in a fight while remaining calm, the mental health benefits are indisputable.

Getting Started

A combination of traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and the mentally disciplined combat sport of Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is helping people of all ages practice self-defense while getting in shape. The distinctive ground fighting techniques of BJJ make it possible to effectively challenge even larger opponents by utilizing leverage and proper movements. 

Following are some tips to get started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

1.  Find a good school and check out a class. Binge-watching You-Tube videos is no substitute for visiting a live class. While you are there, introduce yourself to an instructor and take the opportunity to ask questions and share any concerns you might have. They can help you understand the time commitment, required uniforms and class fees.

2.  Learn the basic concepts. Your first classes will be all about fundamentals from routine drills to beginning techniques. Pay close attention to how to complete warm-up exercises.   Proper warm-ups will set the stage for fewer injuries and successful training. Additionally, you will learn to control your breathing, and strategies to distribute your weight enabling you to manage your opponent and conserve your energy.

3.  Focus on correct forms. Don’t try to get fancy too quickly. Practice drills faithfully and pay attention to new terms including escapes, submission, bridging and shrimping, gripping, and mount positions. Be careful to practice using proper forms, and you will improve a little with each lesson.

4.  Be patient. Mastering the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not happen for anyone overnight. Expect to learn from each mistake and keep going. As you hone skills in self-defense and get into better shape, you will find that the journey is worth it.

The excellent low-impact aerobic workout of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, not only helps you build a stronger body and mind, but also helps lower your blood pressure and improve your overall flexibility. It is easy to get started. Be a hero to your body and check out your first class today.

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