9 Mental Benefits of BJJ – Backed by Research


freedom

When you mention any martial art, the mind first goes to its physical benefits. Although most martial arts involve physical training of kicking, grappling, and punching, know that, the physical aspects of martial art is only one aspect.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gives you the chance to improve not only your physical health but also your mental well-being.

Mental benefits of a martial art are important, as unsurprisingly, more people are reporting signs of anxiety and despair, from 10% to 40% of the adult population. [1]

You might be wondering how this relates to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Studies have shown that martial arts training benefits mental health, although it is not a cure. [2] Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has even contributed to the therapy of stress and anxiety disorders in combat veterans, which is further evidence that martial arts generally benefit those healing from trauma. [3]

The human body experiences an increase in the production of feel-good hormones (oxytocin, noradrenaline, beta-endorphin, serotonin, and BNDF) during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. [4

All exercises already have that effect, but a lesser-known fact is that these hormones can hasten the healing of brain damage.[5]

BJJ enhances neuronal functionality and cognition because it is a cerebral and physical activity (as long as you stay hydrated.) In other words, it improves your ability to think and function.

Psychologists observe a decline in cognitive ability in depressed people. People become distracted and forgetful. Contrary to what many think, it’s not merely because those suffering from mental health illnesses are excessively focused on their ideas. Instead, it’s because depression alters how the brain is structured.

Depression weakens synapses, a widely acknowledged scientific fact (i.e., the connection between brain cells). BJJ training encourages the growth of synapses because of its strategic nature. Therefore, it might prevent the synaptic decline brought on by too much stress.

In this article, we’ll go over the nine mental benefits of the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

#9 – Relieves stress and anxiety

Numerous studies have found that Jiu-Jitsu can lessen the signs and symptoms of depression in both men and women. Jiu-Jitsu involves physical activity that stimulates the growth of happy neurons, which strengthens your stress resistance and elevates your mood in general.

You stimulate your brain cells by continuously moving, thinking, and solving problems while doing BJJ. Generating happy endorphins that make you feel great after each class can positively affect anxiety.

grappling

Jiu-Jitsu helps reduce stress for people who lead hectic lives packed with many obligations, such as work and family commitments. Jiu-Jitsu provides you with something else to focus on other than your troubles. Many individuals utilize it to help them relax and calm down during stressful situations.

Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent practice for easing anxiety symptoms, since the calmer we are, the less anxious we become.

Follow the link to read more about how martial arts reduce your overall stress and aggression levels. Truly, such an improvement is one of the best mindsets changes you can have to your mental health.

#8 – Improves your self-confidence 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a reputation for boosting self-esteem through admiration from other practitioners who observe your technique and personal development over time.

The ability to feel more positive about oneself, both physically and psychologically, knowing that they have acquired something worthwhile on their own without external validation or acceptance from people outside Jiu-Jitsu, gives one’s mental health a significant boost.

self confidence
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instills in you a helpful ability that ultimately boosts your self-confidence and worth. Knowing how to defend yourself in case you need to can make a big difference in how you come across to others.

#7 – Betters social life

Jiu-Jitsu brings individuals together to train, participate in competitions, socialize after classes, or simply share the art with others who share their enthusiasm. By providing you with a place to meet new people and find others who share your interests. 

You’ll be among others who can relate to what you are going through, having this social circle of friends can significantly impact stress management and mental health. Your social circle-expansion inclinations increase.

Putting oneself out there and making new friends is not always simple. BJJ fosters an atmosphere where you can feel more at ease and at ease enough to build new friends and broaden your social circle. When you practice jiu-jitsu, you have a built-in support system, no matter what. 

If you want to read more about why BJJ is so addictive, follow the link to an article of mine.

#6 – BJJ Improves mental strength

Mental strength is the capacity to overcome repeated failures. In BJJ, it would take the form of the idea that it’s acceptable to fail and lose this time as long as you learn from it. Because you will always lose in BJJ, that’s the way it works.

Such a “fail and try again” mentality permeates far more than just the confines of the gym, and spills over into other spheres of life. You then develop a broader perspective on the opportunities and difficulties life presents. [6]

a person kicking

The sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires strategy. However, the practice also results in mental conditioning that goes beyond intelligence. Failure anxiety is a chronic worry that is frequently associated with anxiety disorders. BJJ helps a person become desensitized to losing streaks, which reduces fear and improves mental strength.

#5 – BJJ shifts your perspective

Someone without an experience in martial arts might think a change in one’s perspective after training in Jit-Jitsu is extravagant. No one can dispute the fact that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu alters our perspective of the world. BJJ is an art that encompasses more than just technique and strategy; it’s a way of life.

Self-reflection is a big part of BJJ training. People from different walks of life gather to train together in BJJ. You will learn how to get along despite your differences.

karate class

Players in BJJ triumph via cunning and strategy, bending to the pressure of an adversary as necessary to achieve their desired purpose.

The patience they practice in the mats translates to levelheadedness when dealing with life’s troubles. Life problems become puzzles to solve instead of insurmountable mountains of grief. They brainstorm to solve them. These lessons serve well in life.

Before we continue, hold up. If you want to train BJJ at home, ensure you read an article I wrote on the best ways to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at home.

#4 – BJJ fosters kinship 

Studies acknowledge that strong social networks have positive benefits on the mental health of human beings. [7] Having a solid support network increases resistance to stress through intricate processes and resistance to any resulting illnesses.

Kinship is one way that BJJ can assist people in controlling their fears of making friends with new people.

Players get up in the other’s personal space every time they train. And in that situation, it’s challenging not to develop a bond with people. BJJ just makes it natural that everyone becomes closer as a group.

BJJ creates strong communities among individuals who engage in the sport. It could seem like a unique idea to someone outside the field.

It’s an odd contrast, but the reality is that it usually holds. When practicing BJJ, there are no boundaries. Everyone is on an even playing field.

Whoever you are outside the gym is meaningless as you step onto the mats. Before noticing differences, you and your fellow practitioner will identify areas of agreement. Focusing on commonalities rather than differences strengthens relationships.

#3 – Betters self-control and focus 

As your physical and mental health improves with Jiu-Jitsu, you become more disciplined. The martial arts emphasis on self-improvement aids in the development of self-discipline. You see these changes and improvements in yourself when you put in the effort and energy necessary to achieve your Jiu-Jitsu goals. 

Remember that change takes time. But these changes happen once you have patience and persevere with your practice. Your focus improves.

Jiu-Jitsu offers a setting that allows you to focus. You become more attentive and focused with time.

In time, you apply your capacity for focused labor outside the mats to your personal life, interpersonal relationships, and career. You can make better decisions, resolve issues, and develop clever solutions as your focus is better.

BJJ

When rolling and sparring with other trainees, your mind doesn’t wander to other thoughts. This is what’s known as flow. If you are truly passionate about something, you know how enjoyable it can be to do it.

You feel much more fulfilled when doing so. Now, BJJ allows you to feel that flow, even if you’re not as currently passionate in martial arts and fighting. That’s the feeling many trainees report having in their training.

The honest definition of mental self-improvement and focus.

#2 – Improves body physiology 

As all of your body parts make contact with the mat while you wrestle with your partner. You experience physical sensations. As a result, these moves stimulate your body’s nerves throughout, sending signals to your physiology to maintain its young and healthy. 

Jiu-Jitsu uses every muscle in your body, similar to swimming, thus it gives you a full-body workout and perfect body physiology.[8]

Read more on how BJJ changes your physical body by following the link to an article of mine on the topic.

#1 – BJJ improves Mindfulness 

Jiu-Jitsu grappling might help you enter the flow state quickly. You must retaliate while your adversary pursues you and tries to submit you. There is no time to think things through. Your response will be delayed if you are not mindful, which generates a lag. 

When practicing Jiu-Jitsu you have to transform into a type of active meditation. Even though grappling may only take up a tiny portion of your activity, the repercussions of needing to maintain your composure under pressure on the mat carry over into the rest of your routine. 

That mindfulness you learn in BJJ transforms into your life and applies to many aspects.

As you may have guessed, the previous mental benefit and this one closely link together. Being focused and present in the current moment—is what’s mindfulness is all about.

I recommend involving mediation as part of your current training routine. It’ll help you in improving your focus while growing your mental health and overall well-being.

Do watch the following video and start to experiment with meditation. By doing so, you’ll notice both long and short-term mental health improvement.

What does BJJ teach you mentally?

BJJ sparring displays your strengths and weaknesses. Your goal in every class should be to learn, not to win. The goal of rolling is to practice and refine the techniques you learn in class, not to defeat your opponents.

That mindset is ideal, but your ego can get in the way of this learning process. Naturally, you’ll start to compete. When you “win” a roll, you’ll be pleased, and if you lose, you’ll be upset with yourself. Your mood will drop if your abilities stagnate.

An important mental skill that BJJ teaches you is that when you concentrate on winning and losing, you are thinking with your ego. Your technique will advance once you put more emphasis on learning than on succeeding. BJJ teaches you to check your ego at the door. Also, it teaches you to persevere, just as rolling helps you to concentrate on learning. 

You’ll see that if you put in the necessary effort, you can learn and accomplish anything. One class at a time, you will develop the talent of persistence, which you may use in all facets of your life.

Why do I feel so good after Jiu-Jitsu?

Jiu-Jitsu is a sport, like every other sport you engage in, it makes your body and minds active. Your brain releases feel-good chemicals after engaging in any type of physical activity, BJJ inclusive. This activeness triggers the release of endorphins.

These endorphins aid in pain relief and mood regulation. You generally feel better after engaging in physical activity on the mat. Additionally, you learn better when you’re feeling better.

Although, there are several reasons why people continue practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. One of the reasons remains how the martial art develops and has the power to biologically stimulate the brain. The hormones released during practice are capable of making people fall in love with the sport.

grappling fight

The major benefit of BJJ is that it can access your noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter known as a “fight-or-flight” neurotransmitter. Noradrenaline is a specific chemical produced by your body. All the talk about noradrenaline might sound confusing but it is very helpful.

According to a study, noradrenaline “plays a determinant role in executive functioning regulating cognition, motivation, and intellect, which are crucial in social connections.”

Have you ever questioned why a Jiu-Jitsu athlete keeps going after the 30-minute mark they had originally intended to? Noradrenaline amongst other chemical processes is responsible for the burst of energy, happiness, and vibes you feel after BJJ training. 

Final words

When individuals claim that learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will improve one’s life, they are not making a joke. The concept and practice of BJJ can lead to a wide range of advantages. The benefits of BJJ go beyond managing stress and anxiety, a study shows BJJ as social and psychological therapy. 

The ability to always return and learn more about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of its most alluring features. The journey of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t end with earning a black belt. A lot of people think it’s the start of even deeper learning. 

Some people claim Jiu-Jitsu is more than a sport, to them, it is a lifestyle that never ends. Considering jiu-jitsu as a lifestyle has many perks. You will reap the rewards of the training itself and form healthier habits that will improve your physical, mental, and social well-being. So signup for BJJ today!

If you enjoyed reading this article, I encourage you to buy a grappling dummy for your home, since it’ll help you progress even when you’re not in your martial arts gym. As such, I wrote an article on the best grappling dummies for your money and another one on how to fill them. Do check them out!

Levi

I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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