It’s been many months since I started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). I know many of my readers are into BJJ too but for those of you who are on the fence (or have never even considered doing it) let me give you my top 5 reasons why you should start rolling today:
You don’t know how to fight
I don’t advocate picking fights with people but I think you should at least know how to defend yourself. Most guys couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. This isn’t really all that surprising considering the number of men who engage in combat sports (which is easily less than 10%).
I know what some of your are thinking, “Who needs to learn how to fight when you can just carry a gun?”
Many of us live in places where we cannot legally carry a firearm in public. And while it would be nice to have a concealed weapon on you at all times the reality is that it’s not always feasible nor practical.
So what does that leave you with? Your body and how you use it.
Many will argue about the best art for self defense. I don’t think it really matters much as long as the art you practice has live sparring. In other words, think boxing vs karate or judo vs wing chun.
What I particularly like about BJJ (and what I think it has over many other legit arts) is that it is built to overcome a bigger and stronger opponent. This makes BJJ very good for self defense purposes. In fact, one of the key assumptions of BJJ is that your attacker or opponent will always be larger and more athletic than you are. The idea then is to use technique and guile to defeat your opponent and not necessarily brute strength.
Can BJJ help you against multiple attackers or an armed assailant?
BJJ (or any art for that matter) is not a panacea. In a scenario where you have multiple attackers or someone who is armed the best course of action is to run away. Plain and simple.
With that said, sometimes you will be FORCED to defend yourself (ambush style attack) and in such cases it’s better to know BJJ (or some type of legitimate art) than nothing at all. It really might make the difference between you living or dying.
You have a big ego
When you first start learning BJJ you will get submitted a lot. In fact, you will get beat by guys that are much smaller and weaker than you over and over again. That’s the power of BJJ.
If you have a big ego and think you’re the toughest guy in the world then BJJ will humble you.
Every day I spend on the mats I get humbled by someone (and they are usually weaker than me). This is a good thing. It keeps my ego in check. It forces me to chill out and enjoy the process of learning and becoming better instead of worrying about being the “best” or a “badass.”
Remember, winning is easy. What most people lack is the ability to handle defeat. BJJ will help you deal with that on a visceral level and you’ll become a better person for it.
You have a weak handshake
I consider myself to have pretty good grip strength. I attribute this to the many years I’ve spent inside the gym lifting heavy weights.
Even still, BJJ has tested my grip strength like nothing else before. In BJJ you’re constantly gripping or breaking your opponent’s grips against a heavy cotton gi. My hands have never looked so rough. I even have a hard time bending/flexing my fingers in the morning when my hands are cold.
This is all very good, by the way.
That’s because grip strength is strongly correlated with health and wellness. In one recent study it was discovered that a decrease in grip strength increased an individual’s risk for a heart attack or stroke, and dying from cardiovascular disease.
As you get older, your grip strength will get weaker. A great way to mitigate this is by taking up BJJ (or Judo). I’ve rolled with some older black belt Judo players (in their 50s) and their grip strength is incredible. I plan on being like them in my golden years.
Your conditioning sucks
It’s one thing to run or sprint and an entirely different thing to grapple/wrestle someone.
The best way I can describe an intense roll is like a total body metcon (metabolic conditioning). When you roll hard you are using basically every muscle in your body. The air/assault bike is the closest thing I can think of that replicates the feeling of a BJJ roll, with the big difference being that the bike isn’t trying to choke you out or break one of your limbs.
Being in good cardiovascular shape is important for your health. If you find your run-of-the-mill conditioning routine is less than exciting then I recommend incorporating some BJJ. Not only will you get into solid cardiovascular shape but you will also learn a worthwhile skill along the way. The ultimate 2 for 1 deal if you ask me.
You lack confidence
One of the ways in which BJJ builds confidence is through the routine confrontation of fear. Rolling is a lot of fun but there is always that underlying fear that cuts through everything. The fear of physical harm or injury, the fear of losing, being embarrassed etc. By constantly pushing yourself forward you teach your mind to harness these feelings and use them as an ally.
After a few months of hard rolling you’ll notice that you walk with more confidence. You have better posture. You make eye contact with other people. In a word, you’ll become more self-possessed.
If a low grade fear and/or anxiety permeate your day to day existence, you NEED to do BJJ.
Although I’m still very much a beginner at BJJ I’ve already noticed a number of positive benefits after including the art into my training regimen. If you’ve never considered adding BJJ to your health and fitness routine I highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful sport that will teach you many things both on and off the mat.
Here’s to saying fit!