The Many Faces of Jiu-Jitsu
BJJ Can Benefit People From All Walks of Life
It’s hard to believe that a martial art with origins in bare knuckle brawls on the beaches of Rio De Janeiro and no holds barred vale tudo matches is today practiced by people from all walks of life. Young and old, women and children today enjoy an art that cut it’s teeth with no rules fights with masters from other fighting styles. Brazilian jiu jitsu revolutionized the way people would forever think about fighting, and as time passed the practitioners of this style would soon realize that this art was not only effective on the streets or in the cage but had the potential to benefit people from all walks of life.
If you were to walk into a BJJ gym and start asking people on the mats why they train, you would probably be surprised by the answers. Of course you have the reasons why they first walked in the door, usually for self-defense or fitness. But as time goes by and you learn the self- defense techniques and become much fitter than you were, what keeps these people rolling? Why is it so addictive? I believe it becomes an integral part of people’s lives. The confidence you gain from knowing how to defend yourself transcends through every part of your life. When you show certainty within yourself people start treating you differently, you’re taken much more seriously and become more respected by your peers and looked up to when you display the courage that can be grown from the practice of jiu jitsu.
The jiu jitsu community is another big factor as to why people continue in this journey. The people you would meet on the mats, in my experience can become great friends. You might meet people in this environment that you would have never met in your daily routine because people from all different backgrounds train in this wonderful art. At my gym, Gracie Barra Blacktown I am lucky to train with all sorts of people. From nurses to lawyers, business men, labourers and athletes, since I’ve been training BJJ I’ve never had such a diverse group of friends. And when everyone steps on the mats, social and cultural barriers disappear as for the next hour everyone wears the same uniform and waves the same flag.
Jiu jitsu is truly effective in combining physical training with mental training. Why do you think they have TV’s on treadmills at the gym? Because it’s boring! BJJ enables us to stimulate our mind and body in the same activity. Our brains must be active during jiu jitsu practice. The complex nature of BJJ means that we often have to think through our next action, anticipate reactions and consequences of your next attack and all this has to be calculated in your mind in milliseconds. Rolling is like a fast paced chess match where somebody is trying to strangle you!
What happens after the class within your body and mind is probably the greatest benefit of this martial art. After a good stretch your body and mind can now relax. Your muscle fibers are going to begin to rebuild themselves, stronger than they were before. Your mind will be at rest, any stress or negative thoughts are often washed away after some solid rolling. Brazilian jiu jitsu is a martial art, a sport, an exercise system, a confidence builder and a way of life that that becomes so ingrained in your world that it becomes as important as eating and breathing.
Unlike many other activities that boast similar benefits, jiu jitsu can be practiced much later in one’s life, you only have to look at the late Master Helio Gracie for proof of that! I hope that when I’m in the twilight of my life I’m able to give back to the art that has enriched my life, and pass on the many lessons that I continue to learn on the mats!