Martial arts training is good for your body and mind. BJJ, muay Thai, judo, wrestling, grappling, boxing, and all the rest have huge benefits to offer in the area of keeping you in shape physically and balancing out life stress so that your sanity remains intact. A few days ago, WebMD published an article about how to stay healthy by acting like your pets and as it turns out, Brazilian jiu-jitsu addicts have most of the 20 objectives covered just by training regularly. Check it out…
1. Live in the Moment
A Harvard psychology study called “A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind” found that people are happiest when their mind is focussed on a specific activity – like trying to stop someone from tearing their shoulder out of its socket with a kimura.
2. Stay Curious
Brazilian jiu-jitsu training is like participating in an arms race. Your training partners are going to learn to counter your throws, sweeps, and submissions. If you stop learning, you get left behind. Curiosity killed the cat, sure, but it’s also the reason that you learned that new omoplata defense or triangle choke entry.
3. Ditch the Multitasking
Stanford researchers have found that multitasking can have a detrimental effect on memory and attention span. This could go two ways. Because you’re looking for a takedown, trying to sweep, countering attacks, working for a submission, etc. Brazilian jiu-jitsu could be seen as multitasking at its most complex. On the other hand, you’re funnelling your resources into one main task – submit your opponent before they submit you.
Studies have shown that regular nappers have healthier hearts, are more alert, and have higher job performance than non-nappers. Does that mean that we should get choked out once in a while? That might be a stretch. Listen to Dr. Aaron Schneir’s thoughts about getting choked out in BJJ at the Fightworks Podcast.
5. Walk Every Day
If getting some exercise by going for a walk every day is good for you, then taking part in something much more intensive like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, or wrestling must be even better, right?
6. Prioritize Friendships
A 10-year Australian study of 1,500 elderly people found that the ones with the most friends lived the longest. If you’re spending the majority of your free time at the gym, you can’t help but build some solid friendships along the way.
7. Drop the Grudges
Chronic anger has been linked to increased anxiety, high blood pressure, and a decline in lung function. Training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, submission grappling, judo, etc. is a lesson in letting it go. You’re going to get thrown, pinned, choked, and submitted on a regular basis. Get over it and get used to it.
You probably don’t have a tail to wag to show your gratitude, but unless you’re a complete kook, you do it by thanking your BJJ instructor and training partners after every class.
9. Be Silly
According to a University of Maryland Medical Center study, having a stronger sense of humour reduces heart attack risk. One thing’s for sure, some of the positions you end up in during a BJJ match are more than a bit silly. Without a sense of humour you might end up in therapy.
10. Get a Back Rub
The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine tells us that massage therapy will boost your immune system and reduce pain. I can’t think of anything that happens on the mats that qualifies as a massage, but don’t we all love massages?
11. Drink Water
Your body needs lots of water to clear waste and keep your systems running smoothly. If you train Brazilian jiu-jitsu and have functioning kidneys, then you’re already drinking your share of water.
12. Eat Fish
Not quite sure how to relate this to grappling, but cold-water fish like mackerel and wild salmon aren’t just delicious. They’re also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help mediate arthritis, blood pressure, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
13. If You Love Someone, Show it
Hmmmm. Not on the mats please.
In Dr. Stuart Brown’s book, Play, he draws a correlation between play and improved social skills, creativity, and cognitive development. There’s a reason that we refer to ourselves as “judo players” and “jiu-jitsu players”. Taking things too seriously and trying to “win” every single sparring session means not risking attempting new techniques, which stunts your learning curve in a huge way.
15.Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Almost all coaches advocate cross training of some kind. For example, surfing is huge among Brazil’s BJJ addict population (just ask Kid Peligro or Joel Tudor). Whether it’s hiking, skateboarding, running, cycling, swimming, or golf, it’s always advisable to get some fresh-air exercise.
16. Make Time to Groom
When you’re grappling you have to keep your fingernails and toenails short and bathe on a regular basis. If you don’t, the best thing that happens is that people try to avoid training with you. The worst thing would be infecting the entire gym with ringworm or MRSA.
17. Be Aware of Body Language
Whether you’re hitting a judo throw, shooting for a double-leg takedown, nailing a spider guard sweep, setting up a triangle choke, or performing any other grappling technique you won’t get there without developing an ability to read your opponent’s sense of balance.
18. Stretch Often
There’s a clear connection between regular stretching and flexibility, muscle strength, power, and endurance, which are all important attributes for Brazilian jiu-jitsu players. It’s pretty unusual to find a BJJ instructor who doesn’t advocate stretching before and (especially) after class.
19. Seek Out Shade
If you’re at the gym, you aren’t out in the sun getting your DNA scrambled by UV rays.
20. Stick to a Schedule
Maintaing a regular routine of activity, meals, etc. prevents your body’s clock from getting confused, which means better sleep. Chances are that your Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes take place at regular times each week.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu training is an amazing way to indulge that feral corner of your personality. So get out to class and train like your dog, cat, rabbit, ferret, squirrel, raccoon, or whatever critter lives around your house. When it comes to BJJ fighters we’re all just a bunch of happy, healthy animals.