Here is a great article that describes the health and functional benefits of Jiu Jitsu. It is written by Jason Shield, doctor of chiropractic, expert on bio-mechanics, movement and health from Voss, Norway. Jason is also a blue belt in BJJ who has won the bronze medal at the IBJJF Europeans in 2004. This is a great article worth reading that can help you better understand and explain to others the health benefits of practising Jiu Jitsu.
“I, like many, have enjoyed training various sports. As a doctor of chiropractic, an expert on biomechanics, movement and health, I have taken a special interest in what benefits the body most and what damages it the fastest. Jiu Jitsu has been my most interesting study so far.
Here are some things that I have really enjoyed.
First of all, Jiu Jitsu is a life style. I have never been a part of a sport that not only has a tight nit community feeling no matter where you go in the world, but also has an official life style. Interestingly enough it is similar to the chiropractic life style. Every one agrees that if you eat right, move right and think right you feel great and maintain your health as long as possible. The great thing with BJJ is that all of that happens spontaneously as you progress in your training. You will start making smarter life choices so that you last longer on the mat, are able to do that new trick you learned and just down right have more fun.
After a few months of regular training you first start eating better. I have never seen any other sport with so many “before” and “ after” selfies showing how much weight they have lost after starting BJJ. I myself dropped 10 kg of fat and have put on at least that much muscle in the 2 years that I have been training.
Then you start doing other workouts like weights, running and yoga to beef up your submission rate or just feeling better while sparring. Even if you always hated those kinds of workouts you are willing to do them just for BJJ. You may start pounding the stair stepper with a vengeance or find yourself in an exotic pose right out of some ancient yoga text.
As your journey in BJJ progresses you will become more acutely aware of how functional your body is. You will start seeing that you have some attributes that are wonderful and some others that are lacking. This is normal.
Interestingly enough, as you start working on your bodies over all functionality, not only does your BJJ become more fun and free but you also become much more healthy. Many times it is just these functional weaknesses that we have that are indications of where our body is lacking. These lacks/imbalances are eventually what become dis-ease, then disease and eventually become our downfall. Functional movement, functional eating becomes functional health. BJJ gives you an opportunity to explore and experience this directly.
Another wonderful thing that happens with the body is that BJJ builds muscles, but not like an Arnold work out. I have countless times had to fix huge weight lifters because they strained a muscle while doing something light and easy. This comes from imbalance. The big muscles that they can see in the mirror are strong but the small stabilizing muscles never get any attention. In fact there are thousands of the stabilizers ( your core muscles) and you just do not have enough time to spend building them in the gym. The only way you can stimulate your core, and make yourself bullet proof is to move, move, move. You have to have regular movement in all direction with resistance to do that job. Multi activation of these core muscle groups in all directions and angels. Imagine what that machine would have to look like at the gym! BJJ sparing (or rolling) is alive, creative and ever changing. Each sparring partner that you get becomes a different kind of chaos machine that makes your body find balance in the midst of a roll. Suddenly you may find yourself up side down balanced on a shoulder while working all of your limbs in different directions to win the position. No other training can match that.
The last but not least of the benefits is the loss of fear of being uncomfortable. Suddenly you do not mind being uncomfortable on the mat and this translates to your life. When you become brave enough to step up your game at work or your relationships, magic happens. Taking a step into the unknown can be uncomfortable but after doing BJJ for a few years, it just will not scare you any more. This lack of angst and stress in the ever-changing field that is life is a key feature of keeping healthy. When you look back at your evolution in BJJ you see a spontaneous evolution in your life choices too. A strong mind and body make the whole difference.
So get to it! When you start BJJ you will suddenly find yourself eating better, moving better and generally feeling better. And you will not get caught with a bad back because you bent over to pick up the news paper!”
Happy training! And all the best to you
Dr. Jason Shields B.A., D.C.