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10 Reasons You Should Train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



Growing up, I was your typical wallflower, hesitant to try new things or meet new people, standing at the sidelines, watching my life pass by, either for fear of failure or simply not feeling good enough. I had always felt envious of people who immersed themselves in sports or excelled at art or music and it seemed to me everyone had a talent while I just existed. As I grew older, I began to recognize that it wasn’t the talent I envied so much as the passion these individuals possessed. Hope sparked! I didn’t need to be the best; I just needed to find something I loved.


The next 20 years was spent trying out wildly different hobbies ranging from learning to fly, belly dancing and photography, and although I really enjoyed each one, I never felt that passion I was looking for.


Fast forward to my 38th year when I braved the mats for the first time. I was already familiar with BJJ as my children had been enrolled for a few years, but I never pictured myself as having any athletic ability whatsoever. What little sports I participated in during my childhood was met with very little interest and quite honestly zero skill. But Jiu Jitsu was different! All of a sudden, it was all I could think about. I couldn’t wait to step on the mats and just let the day’s hard knocks melt away as I fought not to get crushed from literally every training partner, as I was usually one of the smallest students there.


While there are an infinite number of activities to try, nothing beats out the numerous benefits of training Jiu Jitsu. Here are my 10 favorite reasons to train BJJ:



1. SELF DEFENSE

I’ll state the obvious first. BJJ is perfect for self defense. In times like these, you are simply doing yourself a disservice if you are not learning how to protect yourself and your family. Bullying is rampant in schools, social media is flooded with stories of human trafficking, and domestic abuse is an everyday nightmare for some. BJJ is designed for the small person. With the knowledge of leverage, timing, and technique, the smaller, weaker person can overcome their bigger opponent. As a small woman, I am frequently underestimated when a new practitioner joins us on the mats. Even when these newbies use all the strength they have, I am frequently able to find an opening to apply the techniques I’ve learned and I honestly feel they are the ones at a disadvantage.

2. FITNESS


BJJ is a fantastic way to get fit and healthy. It’s both aerobic and anaerobic in one beautiful little package. You do not have to already be in shape to try this martial art; Jiu jitsu WILL get you fit. While there are definitely benefits to having high endurance and strength, running or time spent lifting weights will not prepare you for rolling in a 5 minute match. The only way is to get out on the mats and do it. You will feel your cardio taxed in a way you’ve never felt before and there will be plenty of resistance but it does not feel like exercise in the traditional sense. You will be drenched in sweat, but it will be the best time you’ve ever had.


3. FRIENDSHIP


While training, you will develop some of the closest friendships you will ever experience. You are putting your faith and trust in your training partner‘s hands with every roll and they are doing the same with you. As weird as it sounds, it’s hard not to bond when you’re trying to choke each other. Because you are in a safe place, you both can experiment and help each other problem solve without fear of injury. My best friends are my training partners. Each one of us is different and weird in our own ways, but Jiu Jitsu brings us together no matter our differences or backgrounds.

4. CONFIDENCE


Jiu Jitsu builds confidence. I am not the same person I was before I started martial arts. I feel more sure of myself and my capabilities now than I have in my entire life. It’s changed the way I hold myself and the way I look at life. Of all the reasons to train BJJ, for me, this one is the most powerful. Training Jiu Jitsu is no easy feat. It’s a daily struggle and there are times I walk off the mat feeling defeated but I always come back and I am better for it. I may not win every match but I survive, and with each roll, I walk away more knowledgeable than before. And when I walk out of the academy into the world, I know I am accomplishing something only a small percentage of people in the world even try.


5. COURAGE


It takes courage to try anything new. BJJ is no exception, more so if anything bc it is a combat sport. You will be in uncomfortable positions, you will face the fear of failure daily, and of course, there is a possibility of injury, as with any sport. Add in competition and we are taking bravery to a whole new level.


6. MENTAL WELLNESS


We have already looked at the benefits of Jiu Jitsu for our physical health and our minds should not be ignored. It is no secret that using our brains to solve logic problems or create art will stave off diseases such as dementia when we start to age. Jiu Jitsu is a chess game of sorts. To excel, it requires strategy and problem solving. I tend to think of my game as a puzzle. Every concept I learn or new technique I put in my arsenal is just a new piece to my puzzle. What escape fits with this attack? What submissions are available with this position? Jiu Jitsu isn’t purely logical either. The best practitioners are creative with their rolls. New techniques are being developed every day.


7. PATIENCE


The average BJJ practitioner will earn their black belt in 10-15 years. Compared to other martial arts, that is an exceptionally long time. It takes patience to drill that one technique over and over so that it becomes muscle memory. It requires patience as well as hard work to walk onto the mat every day, never knowing when you will earn that little strip of tape your instructor puts on your belt or even better a brand new colored belt indicating your new hard earned rank. Most people who train BJJ won’t make it past their blue belt and it’s estimated only 1% of people who train will earn that coveted black belt.


8. EGO BUSTER


Let’s be honest, there isn’t a single one of us that doesn’t struggle with this issue. We all know that spazzy white belt that comes into the academy their first day ready to show us all he’s learned watching UFC and YouTube. One hour on the mat usually shows these guys just how tough they really are. Even if they eventually become the big fish in the little pond, once they cross train at a different academy, it doesn’t take long to find an even bigger, stronger, and faster fish to set you on a humble path.


9. FOCUS


Studies have shown that children with ADHD greatly benefit from the structure of individualized sports such as BJJ. Not only does it provide physical exertion, Jiu Jitsu teaches discipline, focus, and problem solving which is exactly what those who have hyperactivity struggle with. With or without ADHD, both children and adults alike will find it extremely difficult to focus on anything other than the match at hand.


10. GOAL SETTING


Jiu Jitsu is the best of both worlds in that it is essentially an individual sport but it relies on teammates to excel. The relationship with our training partners is based on feedback as well as support, rather than actual competition between teammates. The competition should mainly be with oneself in an effort to get a little bit better each day. We accomplish this by identifying our own weaknesses, usually exposed by our training partners, and setting goals in order to overcome these obstacles. Competing in tournaments is a great way to expose holes in your game, thereby giving you an idea of what goal to set for the future.



I feel blessed every day that I finally found my passion. Jiu Jitsu is challenging, both physically and mentally, and it’s more fulfilling than anything else I have experienced. It requires mental toughness, but is available to each and every one of us regardless of where we start. It’s a journey that makes me a better version of me and I believe it can do the same for all of us.

Jill Viator



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