7 Surprising Benefits of BJJ (Spiritual, Mental, & Social)

May 6, 2024
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the best martial arts for self-defense. But what else can you get from training BJJ besides learning how to fight? The answer is a lot!
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There are so many benefits to participating in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!

Training Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) teaches you self-defense, it’s an easy way to lose weight and improve your fitness, and it’s a great way to relieve stress and make new friends.

In this article, some of the many benefits of jiu-jitsu are discussed. They are organized into 4 major categories:

  • Physical Benefits
  • Mental/Cognitive Benefits
  • Social/Emotional Benefits
  • Spiritual Benefits

Embarking on the BJJ journey is special for many reasons. Here are some of the main benefits of training BJJ that draw so many people to the gentle art.

1. Physical Benefits

physical benefits of jiu jitsu

The physical benefits associated with participating in BJJ are plentiful.

Seeing as you spend most of your time in the sport pushing, pulling, and resisting the body weight of another person, it’s no wonder BJJ is one of the best (not to mention one of the most fun) ways to get fit.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Physical Fitness

Jiu-jitsu really is a full-body workout. Spending time sparring at BJJ class a few times a week is a fantastic way to improve your cardio, your strength, and your flexibility and mobility. Of course, many people who begin jiu-jitsu training on a regular basis also supplement their training with weight lifting, yoga, and other fitness activities to enhance their performance on the mats/stay injury-free.

One of the most common benefits of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is weight loss. BJJ can be a fantastic addition to a person’s weight loss journey, as sparring and drilling techniques are great ways to burn calories and lose weight while still having fun. Plus, you’ll build muscle at the same time as you lose weight, helping you to improve body composition in the process. The fitness benefits of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training are undeniable.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Physical Health

Now, it’s true, you can get injured from doing BJJ. But the overall physical health benefits associated with the art/sport far outweigh the risks of injury.

People who start training BJJ tend to clean up their diets, as they are forced to pay more attention to how the food they eat affects their physical performance on the mats. Also, with BJJ comes a greater focus on mobility and flexibility. Yoga and BJJ go hand in hand, as does a focus on breath control.

So, joining jiu-jitsu means you'll enjoy a host of fitness benefits, but it can also be a great way to improve your overall physical health as well.

2. Mental/Cognitive Benefits

mental benefits of brazilian jiu jitsu

While BJJ is widely known for its physical benefits (i.e., health and fitness), some practitioners value the mental/cognitive benefits of training BJJ more than anything else.

After all, BJJ is commonly referred to as human chess – and chess is no easy game to master!

BJJ: The Martial Art of Problem Solving Under Pressure

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art that emphasizes problem-solving under pressure. In theory, this is the case for other martial arts as well, but with BJJ it is especially so.

Trying to use strength to get out from under your training partners is definitely a bad idea. Instead, using strategy, leverage, and technique-based movements are a much better approach for dealing with training partners who are trying their best to dominate you physically. Developing and using problem-solving skills under pressure is the essence of jiu-jitsu.

That said, critical thinking skills are also essential for becoming an elite BJJ practitioner. One of the reasons why jiu-jitsu is one of the most effective martial arts is because jiu-jitsu allows for full-intensity sparring in a safe, controlled environment. Being able to go at near 100% intensity with your training partner allows for you to be put under serious pressure without risking serious injury.

3. Socio-Emotional Benefits

Most people only talk about the physical and mental/cognitive benefits of BJJ participation. But when we look at individual development from a holistic perspective, we can’t ignore the social/emotional benefits of BJJ.

Jiu-Jitsu Benefits that Extend Beyond the Dojo Walls

Jiu-jitsu teaches, above all else, self-defense.

Whether or not you’re having to physically defend yourself outside of the jiu-jitsu gym, learning self-defense is incredibly beneficial for developing confidence. Knowing that you can protect yourself – and protect others, if need be – is an empowering feeling.

More than just knowing how to defend yourself, getting good at jiu-jitsu teaches you that you can face adversity, push through difficult situations, and overcome obstacles. Figuring out how to escape a tight arm bar from a training partner who normally bests you can transfer to other areas of your life. Suddenly, that meeting/presentation at work doesn’t seem so daunting, for example.

Jiu-Jitsu and the Management of Emotions

Another social/emotional benefit of training BJJ is learning how to manage your emotions. Training jiu-jitsu can be great for stress relief, but it's also a fantastic way to learn how to deal with stress.

If you’re new to jiu-jitsu, it’s common to panic when you get stuck in bad positions – like when you get caught in a submission or get your back taken. I remember how terrified and panicked I was when I had my first jiu-jitsu trial class. As you continue to train throughout white belt, it’s common to get frustrated when a sparring session isn’t going your way.

But the more you train jiu-jitsu, the more you learn how to control your emotions so they don’t get the best of you. Developing discipline over your body and mind will serve you well on the mats and in your life outside of jiu-jitsu.

4. Spiritual Benefits

This last category of BJJ benefits hardly ever gets discussed.

But the warrior spirit that comes along with training martial arts – specifically BJJ – is crucial for understanding the gentle art. In my opinion, this is why so many BJJ practitioners don’t refer to themselves as BJJ athletes, but instead as martial artists.

Martial Arts and the Warrior Spirit

Above all else, martial arts teach resilience. When the going gets tough, the warrior spirit teaches you to push through and conquer your fears using creativity skills and perseverance.

But the warrior spirit is about more than just resilience, toughness, and courage in the gym. It’s also about living with humility and passion and allowing these values to permeate all aspects of your daily life.

The Warrior Spirit and Living a Full Life

More than just being a gym warrior, having a warrior spirit is about applying what you learn in jiu-jitsu to the other areas of your life. Ultimately, it's about using your knowledge and experience to have a positive impact on your community and on the world.

Maybe by gaining confidence through training jiu-jitsu, you're able to reach out and help others in ways you wouldn't have done before. Maybe you begin to teach/mentor as you gain more experience, giving back to not only the jiu-jitsu community, but to your neighbours, family, and work colleagues.

Other Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Honestly, this article could go on and on, as there are dozens of benefits associated with training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In the end, everyone will have a slightly different jiu-jitsu experience, but there are many commonalities that I did my best to outline above.

Maybe you train BJJ because of the amazing feeling you get when you land a new sweep or pull off a submission you were having trouble with. Maybe you train BJJ because it's one of the most effective grappling arts/martial arts around, and you use it for self-defense or mixed martial arts. Maybe you lost 50 pounds and turned your life around just by showing up and training a few times per week. I could go on and on.

The benefits of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are physical, mental/cognitive, social/emotional, and spiritual. Ultimately, you'll get out of BJJ what you put into it.

So keep showing up – or schedule your first trial class if you haven't yet started training – stay humble, and enjoy the many benefits of training Brazilian jiu-jitsu.