10 Benefits Of Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

There are a number of legitimate combat sports to choose from and I understand that BJJ is not the holy grail of fighting. I think that there are many strong sports that can teach you similar lessons including wrestling, judo, boxing, Muay Thai, etc. With that said, BJJ is very good, my largest experience is with BJJ and so I chose to use that to share the following benefits of combat sports in general.

1. Humility

Your first three months to a year of training BJJ will be spent getting smashed. You will be submitted by all types of people: guys bigger and smaller than you, guys younger and older than you, “nerds” and maybe even the occasional female. This is natural and anyone who starts training any combat sport, especially Brazilian jiu jitsu, will go through this learning period.

I remember having my guard passed by a 100 pound female early in my training and it was extremely humbling. Before training jiu jitsu I had a tendency to judge people’s fighting ability by the way they looked; if you were bigger and stronger I assumed you were a better fighter. Now I understand that while strength certainly helps, people of all shapes and sizes must be equally respected.

2. Respect

Alongside humility you will gain an appreciation for high-level combat athletes. You will understand that there are people out there who can take your life using only their bare hands. The vast majority of people on earth have no idea how skilled a tiny percentage of society is at fighting. Joe Rogan talks about this topic in the following short video:

3. Discomfort

You will become more comfortable dealing with discomfort. Being hot and thirsty while dealing with the claustrophobia of having another person smother you is uncomfortable. Over time you will get better at keeping your composure and thinking your way out of a situations which leads to the next point.

4. Problem solving

Jiu jitsu is problem solving. Joe Rogan calls fighting “problem solving with severe consequences”. While jiu jitsu is not fighting as there is no striking, it certainly does involve problem solving. You have to think your way out of and into a variety of different positions. As you improve your game and gain more experience these thoughts become reactions. Nonetheless problem solving will always be a part of jiu jitsu as you encounter different opponents who play different styles and unique games that you must deal with.

5. Discipline

It takes discipline to train BJJ consistently especially early on while you’re spending the majority of your time as the nail rather than the hammer. While jiu jitsu is enjoyable to learn, there will be days when you don’t feel like training, are tired or busy. These will be the days that you must have the discipline to stick to your routine and push through to train.

6. Technique

If there is technique involved in something as physical as grappling then there must be technique involved in all things. This was a great lesson I learned early on while training. I ignorantly thought that strength and size were the most important factors when grappling but BJJ taught me that good technique wins in most situations. My mindset when doing any activity now is “what’s the most efficient way to do this that will require the least amount of energy?” While this may sound like common sense, BJJ helped reinforce this concept of efficiency in other activities.

7. Improvement

Alongside technique I learned that all aspects of our lives are improvable. Again this may seem very basic but if you can improve at fighting by consistently training then that rule must apply to all other areas of life. The improvements you make in your first few years of consistent training are astonishing and this practice can be transferred over to other areas of life.

8. Confidence

After getting humbled for a period of time you begin to improve considerably. With this improvement comes a confidence in your ability to handle yourself in different situations. I’m not saying that BJJ is the be-all and end-all of fighting, far from it, but I do believe learning to grapple makes for a great base. With this base comes confidence.

This does not mean I walk around looking for a fight, quite the opposite. I’m much less likely to fight anyone today than I was a decade ago for a variety of reasons.

  • I understand what getting smashed in a controlled environment feels like and I don’t want to experience it in an uncontrolled environment, nor do I want someone else to experience this.
  • I don’t have the need to prove myself physically to anybody else. I’m content and confident in my improving physical abilities.
  • Fighting in a gym and fighting in the streets are two very different things. As my first instructor once said, “if he has a knife or he has a gun or he picks you up and drops you on your head.. now you’re a dead black belt”.

9. Learning what you do and do not control

Entering tournaments can cause anxiety for competitors and this, like anything uncomfortable, can be a great learning experience. You control your training, your effort and your attitude. You do not control your opponent, the referee or fortune. This applies to many areas of life where we must understand what we do and do not control. You learn to do your best with what you control and let fortune have her say.

On a related note, I once entered a tournament at the lightest weight class that I had fought in. I was strong, well-conditioned and as technical as I had ever been. Nevertheless, I came across my toughest opponent to date (the eventual division winner) in the first round and I was dominated. Fortune has her say in all matters, some things in life we don’t control.

10. Composure in competition

Alongside what you do and do not control, competition teaches you what you can and cannot accept. Getting beat by a physically better opponent is acceptable, quitting while you’re getting dominated in a match or training is not. Failure in life is natural but allowing that to keep you down or to affect your next move should not be tolerated.

Lastly, l would like to note that if you’re not committed to training BJJ and don’t make time for it then you will not stick with it. It is challenging to train consistently and you have to be mentally determined to do it. Some academies offer beginner classes and these can be helpful to avoid being thrown to the wolves too soon. Either way, sooner or later, you must understand that you will be the nail. You have to remember there will always be someone better than you, even as you progress. If you have the commitment and can accept these factors then BJJ, or another combat sport, can make for a great teacher in your life.

Read More: 5 Reasons Why It’s Important To Have A Training Partner

36 thoughts on “10 Benefits Of Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”

  1. BJJ is definitely more efficient than Judo.
    I spent one year getting thrown around a Judo dojo like a ragdoll. Then I took one lesson in BJJ; we practiced some submission using the legs to triangulate a person’s head all lesson. With just that I went back to the judo dojo and submitted a black belt. It was part luck and part technique and the black belt was very much surprised. But no one was more surprised than me.
    It was hard to get my head around because Judo is way harder than BJJ, yet the latter seems far more efficient. It’s strange, but I must admit that it’s true. Though Judo has much better take downs; BJJ is no doubt more lethal on the ground.

    1. If Judo is your thing, yet you are also interested in ground game, consider looking for another Judo gym that dedicates some time to basic Ne-waza.
      In Judo, there is a triangle choke called Sankaku-jime, however all schools curriculum is different.
      More self defense based Judo Schools will teach everything and more competition based Judo Schools will teach only what wins in sport.
      Everybody has their own preference.
      If you want to perform at a high level in Judo competition, you have to focus more on the sport side of things and understand you will have plenty of gaps in basic self defense knowledge.
      If you want to be able to defend yourself in all types of situations you have to focus on the more well rounded Self Defense style of Judo and understand that you will be giving up an edge in the Sport side of Judo.
      There is no right choice except the one you make for yourself.

      1. Replying to this whole thread; maybe you all already know this but the lineage of bjj is directly from judo. Akaijitsu/jujutsu – judo – bjj.
        Judo newaza focused branch is called Kosen School judo directly from Kodokan the original by Kano jigoro. Kosen was primarily practiced by his star student – mitsyu maeda who taught judo to Carlos/helio Gracie and teddy Roosevelt.
        So basically nothing outside of 10th planet or Marcelo Garcia bjj is not known in judo. Only reason modern judo schools concentrate on tachi waza is because of Olympic hopefuls. And the Olympics as an organization is like any other – nfl, ufc etc. they want excitement and action – not technical ne waza. Why do you think wrestling almost became eliminated? Because it’s rare to see a Matt Lindland, Kurt angle or Karelin suplex dudes all the time. So to casual viewers – ground grappling is boring. Hell – even in pro mma, where ground fighting is supposed to have its strongest presence is discouraged by even Dana white.
        It’s a travesty – I know but that’s what you get from modern day judo. But find a traditional judo school and you’ll find all the elements of jjj and what they call bjj.
        – a grappler

    2. I train both BJJ and Judo. And while I don’t disagree with your assessment, I do feel that judo is actually superior for street self-defense. In a real fight, it is crazy to go to the ground, where you can get head kicked by a not-so-neutral observer. It is a much better strategy to stay on your feet and throw your opponent to the ground first (preferably head-first into the pavement). Fight over right then and there. With judo, you can do this (although you need to nearly be a black belt to be effective).
      BJJ is of course amazing in case you do end up on the ground, where most fights end up statistically speaking. But if you have good judo, you should not end up on the ground. And even if you do, judo has enough ground techniques to submit the average thug on the street. The only time judo’s ground techniques fail is in the rare case where you are fighting a BJJ expert.

      1. About most fights ending on the ground; most fights involving young males are probably part consensual and between flabby untrained guys.
        Do you think that a young Arnold Schwarzenegger would end up on the ground if he were attacked by Joe Blow? Would a young Mike Tyson end up on the ground if attacked by a drunken thug? I think not. Therefore I think the thing about most fights ending on the ground is misleading fear mongering. I certainly never heard of people being afraid of getting taken to the ground before the BJJ/MMA craze took off. Afraid of having their teeth or testicles struck in more so.
        Lift weights actively and intelligently and the vast majority of men will have a hard time taking you to ground in the highly unlikely case that you get into a fight.

        1. funny i give you a thumbs up. but if a good BJJ guy wants to take some street thug to the ground he can do that, does not really matter if the street idiot lifts weights.
          if a trained fighter wants to beat some heavy trained fitness guy up, he can do that standing up easily.

        2. I could not post a direct reply to you Wolf, so I’m going to have to reply to my own post instead (technically).
          I don’t care if a BJJ guy or a fighter can take a street thug to the ground unless I’m a street thug myself who goes around picking fights. My issue was with the misleading retort that “most fights go to the ground”. I presume that the readers here are not idiots looking for fights but normal guys who stand a small chance of being attacked once in their life and I’m going to assume that most guys who are serious about self-improvement are stronger and fitter than most and obsessing about ground grappling would be silly.
          Even if you somehow get taken to the ground by someone who does not know how to eat right, fight or get strong, it’s not as if all your gym gains and fitness will magically go away because of your body position and it’s not as if the thug on the street will be any more skilled in that position so it’s futile to worry about it any more than you would worry about losing a boxing match against a slob.
          Martial arts work best on flat surfaces with ample space. Bodybuilding has many little known advantages over martial arts in some very specific scenarios but I’m not going to go into them. Suffice it to say that the simplistic MMA fanboy slogans about size not mattering fall flat when subjected to precise scrutinity.

        3. the reply system is really bad here. possibilities that the fight goes to the ground are:
          1. one guy wants to take you down
          2. one loses balance and slips because of the sudden speed in a fight/ or knockdown
          3. they wrestle and fall down
          Point 3 is the most common, thats where the saying must come from: most fights go to the ground/end on the ground
          because most fights are between common people/unskillful not fighting practitioners, and the chance one of them starts tackling is big. if one guy thinks he is stronger he will use force to go forward and tackles and throws fists = that is overwhelming for the unskilled. if he is indeed stronger, he will probably bring it to the ground, if they are both strong they could still lose balance and fall down. so the point of the saying is: be prepared, its a high chance it could go to the ground, unless you are the dominant fighter and you prefer the standup fight you still have to use defense to not go down. It is harder to not go down, than to fall for unskilled.
          There is also a chance for the dominant fighter to throw his opponent down, but doesnt go down with him, and lets him back up, good chance the other guy would give up and the fight ends.

        4. Sorry Depressed Guy, but you’re absolutely full of bullshit and know nothing about fighting and you made that VERY clear with everything you spouted.
          You said it yourself, you’re not into martial arts, you prefer bodybuilding. So why are you handing out hypothetical advice as Gospel? You don’t train in fighting remember? You train in bodybuilding.
          In regards to your “Size matters in a fight” comment, yes it does, but it mostly matters between two highly trained athletes who are at peak performance, and who have deep understanding of skills, at that level, and little difference in size can give an advantage.
          Since it’s a competition and people are trying to keep the fights as fair as possible for the sake of competition, they have weight classes.
          All that being said, even BETWEEN fighters, when they do open weight bouts, we get to see, regularly, small guys beat big guys. So it goes to show, that even though size matters, nowhere near as much as people would like to believe.
          If you rely on your size, or your bodybuilding to save you in a defensive situation, you’re might be in for one hell of rude awakening. And no, not just from some trained MMA fighter, but even from a common street thug.

        5. Yeah.. The “most fights go to the ground” thing was started by him schools marketing their system. Nobody goes around polling fights… So the claim might or might not be accurate.

    3. I don’t believe BJJ is more effective than judo for a number of reasons. I do believe boxing is more effective than both but that’s a subject for another day.
      The reason I believe judo to be more effective is this:
      -judo is hard and builds toughness
      -you learn to fall without crippling yourself
      -it can be used against multiple opponents
      -judo includes an element of surprise, which is important for self-defense. A throw is much slower than a punch, but it’s still much faster than a ground choke. The longer you take to execute a technique, the more time your opponent has to pull a knife, cheap shot you or muscle out of your hold
      -it is arguably better when fighting on rough and uncertain terrain and in tight spaces, where you may not have enough space to accelerate for a bum rush takedown or might hurt yourself going to the ground because of odd objects, sharp walls, corners, steps etc. Judo requires space too, but you don’t have to lay flat on the ground at full height or something like that. The opponent can be flipped into a wall or over a table for example.
      Just my two cents.

      1. I forgot to mention that the quality of judo or more accurately ranking is very different over the world although the techniques and training are the same.
        In Europe you have to bust your butt for a black belt. In Japan you can get in a few years like you can get a hapkido or TKD black belt in the states.
        I’ve met european judo guys who have been doing it for ten years and are still brown belts. They also need to do well in competition to earn their black belt. European black belts are no joke.

    4. Both judo and jujitsu are excellent martial arts, but unless they are trained within a self defense mindset, they are still combat sports. They can be effective, but if the opponent has a gun, a knife or other weapon and are prepared to use it then they can easily be nullified.
      Check out Hoch Hockenheim, Marc”Animal” Mac Young or other self defence experts. Traditional martial arts can definitely be applied in self defence scenarios, they just need to be used when they are the appropriate choice.

  2. I’m not impressed with points 1 and 2 or alternatively do not see what they have to do with martial arts.
    The human body is vulnerable regardless of your rank and I do not need a black belt with zero medical training to teach me that.
    I’m not going to respect a BJJ black belt anymore than a stamp collecting cripple just because he has a different hobby than someone else nor do I feel a reason to be more humble because his hobby is different from mine. I do need to show hobby specific humility if I want to excel in HIS hobby and learn but in no way does his hobby transcend all human activity.
    What reason would there be for that respect other than appealing to crudest and basest instincts by which I mean respecting someone because they can cause bodily harm? By that reasoning I should also respect loose cannon felons who pack heat despite the laws being against it but not necessarily as much as I need to respect an elephant in the jungle who’s tickled by the punk’s bullets.
    I feel like a lot of martial arts people drop these kinds of hints because they feel a need to rationalize their hobbies to the outside world and to assert dominance on grounds that are not applicable in the adult world and use martial arts as a shortcut to self-confidence instead of doing something “boring” like learning chinese or writing code. The ass kicking machine is not the king in the adult world; he might be an OK bouncer.

      1. You did not explain how I’m rationalizing weakness. What counts as doing that? Not deferring to your hobby or someone else’s favourite hobby?

    1. this post is great! it`s always the same old mentality: “look at me i am the savior of the world” because my hobby is jujitsu etc.

      1. The people who exclaim that “everyone must do jiujitsu!” etc. do not really want everyone to do it, because their identity is based on that smug superiority where they explain other people’s hobbies as ignorance, laziness or plain weakness. If everyone became interested, the level of competition would skyrocket and soon the experts of yesteryear would have been trashed by far more inexperienced superior athletes in competition.

    2. I disagree with your statement. I do believe that if a man has the physical ability to do a martial art, he should, but I also don’t see it as a MUST especially when firearms are brought into the equation (though to be honest I do consider learning how to use a handgun for CCW self defense a martial art, but for the sake of the argument, let’s stick to hand to hand).
      This cultural idea of men learning how to fight, has been done time and time again through History with almost every culture in the world, regardless if they were bakers, iron-smiths, etc . It’s only recently that the feminization of men has brought on an age where the average man has absolutely no basic concept of defending himself (he might THINK he does due to all the movies he watches, but reality is very different)
      It might come in handy for self defense, you never know, but more importantly, it teaches other virtues WHILE giving you basic self defense. And let’s be honest, if you feel like you can defend yourself from an asshole, you’ll generally carry yourself with more confidence. There are many different types of confidence, and one of them is the ability to defend yourself. Just as there is another type of confidence, such as intellectual confidence. To me, it reads like you have some sort of dislike towards Martial Art practitioners, and you’re trying to diminish what they’ve accomplished, quite ironically.
      As much as I like and love Martial Arts, if someone doesn’t want to take them, that’s fine I’m not saying they’re the best hobby in the world like many Martial Artists preach. Do I think Martial Arts are some of the most important things in the world? No. But they’re still important.
      “The ass kicking machine is not the king in the adult world” And neither is the Chinese Calligraphy expert nor the Code Writer. I say this as a man who writes for a living (tries, more like) and who is heavy into Literature. If I find someone who shares my interests in Literature, I like them for that particular reason, if someone shares my interests in Martial Arts, I also like them for that specific reason.
      Sounds like by your measure of “worth”, if you’re not an Aerospace Engineer/Brain surgeon, that you’re a nobody.

      1. Martial arts do not teach any virtues a proper home or other sports do not instill; many martial artists would admit this. Claiming otherwise is simply more hobby supremacism and an attempt to rationalize a counter-intuitive hobby as somehow being more useful than any other.
        You say that fighting has been a part of humanity for a long time and that’s true but it does not mean we should idolize that past or refrain from evolving further. Even some martial artists simply romanticize the shitty good old days and try to draw a semi-religious comparison between the cage fighters of today and the ignorant, illiterate world of yesterday where grand european cities made the likes of modern american ghettos look relatively safe and civilized. None of these people actually want to go back to those times; they just want someone to pat them on the back and tell them how tough they are for wrestling on a soft mat in a well lit, centrally heated room where expert medical help is minutes away., not that human need for validation is in anyway restricted to martial arts. It is not difficult to see why guys would like to cling to and maintain this kind of mythology similar to how cops and firefighters might want Hollywood movies to form the public opinion; for them it’s a raise in status and leads to easier access to gullible females.
        What evidence do you have that men were better at fighting in the past and how far does that past reach? Some skills become redundant with time as government, technology and human genetic potential improves. Modern society is big on highly specific division of labor; we still need a limited batch of soldiers, police officers, security guards and in such vocations physical strength and martial arts can be useful but that does not mean that it’s cost-effective for other vocations.
        For more information watch the Penn & Teller episode on martial arts and read the forum thread (under the subforum weightlifting and fitness) titled “My thoughts on the necessity of martial arts training” if you like.

  3. Martial Arts are great for most of these, however BJJ does get a lead because of its nature, that even small statured individuals can compete just as well as anyone else. All I’m going to say is that BJJ compared to other things still has its drawbacks especially now when SOME practitioners are used to a sporting environment when taking it to a practical application, no one specific style/art/system has it all and those that claim so are moronic.

    1. I hate to argue but how is BJJ different from any other martial sport with weight classes? You said “compete just as well as anyone else” and boxing, wrestling and every other martial sport has weight classes suitable for giants as well as midgets.

      1. You’re right about weight classes and such, but when I say compete just as well as anyone else, I talk about the techniques in BJJ, a scrawny 100lb asian girl could tap body builders twice her weight if she knew what she was doing, the techniques behind bjj rely more on technique, and specialized leverage of anatomy compared to a similar grappling style of collegiate wrestling, and I speak as a wrestler. That’s all I meant by it. BJJ was made by Helio Gracie, a smaller guy who adapted Japanese Jiu Jitsu to fit his physicality. The same argument could be made for wing chun, a style made by women for women and the elderly.

        1. I would agree that some styles of grappling rely more on strength than others. At the same time I feel that a lot of the hype surrounding BJJ is born out of nationalist sentiment.
          Sambo, a russian variation of judo with leg locks has been around for a long time with their own world championships but its roots go back to the soviet era when Russia was largely closed off from the west. Then came the 90’s, the internet and the UFC with rules and alleged referee bias in favor of the Gracies, who had allegedly refused challenges from grapplers with different backgrounds before.
          Every now and then us western whites start idolizing some non-western, non-white form of art (dance, fighting, music) as superior and the third world folks are happy to milk the attention and respect.
          I don’t want to sound racist here but I’m not sure if a handful of people from a developing nation were truly smart enough to overturn decades, centuries or millenia of self-defense knowledge. Outside of the BJJ/MMA ‘bubble’ women’s self-defense is still not primarily based on any sort of grappling but some commentators started saying it should be once MMA became as trendy as it is.

  4. The ROK solution to EVERYTHING lately is some form of gayness. Rolling around on the floor and getting struck by some dude will not increase your masculinity. Instead you will spend the rest of your life nursing damaged tendons or trying to breathe thru a broken nose. Any jerk who approaches me with “martial arts” threat is going to feel a teflon cartridge in his leg… and if he keeps coming at me…several more to the face.

    1. BJJ is merely one area of self defense a man should acknowledge; (grappling/clinching, striking, edged/blunt weapons, and guns), neglect one area at your own peril.
      Frankly I think too many males, kids and teens specifically dont get their agression out the right way, they’re too scared to throw down with the jerk at school and let everything slide until a gun seems easy. We need to bring back duels.

  5. Most muggings involve some kind of weapon while most of “self-defense” sports don’t train or do it very poorly against weapons, sure it’s good for you have some training but unless they teach you how to turn the lights out on your opponent in 3 or less moves it’s useless on the street.
    I trained Wing Tsun for 1 year until the Sifu threw me out saying I was too aggressive, lol! If you come home from a training session without at least one bruise or cut you did not train properly.

    1. PS. Most self-defense is centered on immobilization and avoidance of one opponent, but do you really want to be all tangled up on the ground with a thug in a dark alley or how well can you avoid 3-5 attackers at once till you out of breath or they corner you.. if your training does not include striking vital areas for maximum damage with the fewest moves you are only preparing to fail in a real world scenario.

  6. Purple belt here from Brazil. I started training Jiu Jitsu in 2012.
    The best thing Jiu Jitsu can give you is meditation. When you are totally in the sparring, no thoughts in other things, then you are meditating.
    This is pure bliss.
    In our every day lives, our mind is totally crazy and in many things in the same moment. To focus in one thing for a long time is really difficult. Jiu Jitsu can give the focus, because if you think about other thing, you will lose.
    This is the reason religion and martial arts are connected.

  7. I trained Muay Thai and BJJ for a few years in my 20s. I think one thing to keep in mind- Sub concussive blows sustained in sparring are a BIG DEAL. I developed post concussive syndrome after too many gym wars and a nasty head kick. Dude wiped me out lol. It really sucked for a few months. If you value your intellect, leave the head contact out. Headgear just makes it worse and studies are showing even heading a soccer ball/light jabs add up. Your brain is like a hard custard. It doesn’t like to get rocked. Diffuse Axonal injury over the years, kids getting CTE in their early 20s.

    1. I quit training BJJ at a very well known gym after there was an outbreak of MRSA. These guys were on it too- If they saw so much as a little red scab on your skin, you were kicked out till it healed. Mats disinfected everyday. VRSA is much worse. Either one can cost you a limb or even kill you.

  8. For self defense, if you want to know what works, ask the professionals whose lives depend on it. For self defense (and from military experts): Israeli (not American) Krav Maga, Muay Thai, some basic weapons training (guns, knives, sticks) strength conditioning, and a few grappling techniques. These are the things which can be learned most quickly with minimal time and wear and tear on the body that will be most likely to save one’s life in a street fight. It is noteworthy that most street cops use only 10-20 basic techniques taught at the academy regarding anatomical pressure points to subdue the vast majority of criminals.

    When two fighters are equally matched in technique, the one with better physical conditioning usually wins the fight. Floyd Mayweather built a career on this… so don’t forget that cardio! BJJ is most effective against a singular opponent of superior size and strength, which is largely negated once on the ground. Thereafter, the person who controls the center of gravity usually prevails. However, as others have mentioned, the ground is no place to be on asphalt with many unknown variables regarding multiple persons. Never underestimate size; the pros know that it obviously matters… a fact born out by strict weight classes in sports, even in MMA. This 3 part series gives some good insight into real world versus sport in regards to actual fighting scenarios. Enjoy!

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