Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s many health and fitness benefits

Spring has sprung in the Sutherland Shire – and that has a habit of focusing the mind on the body! It’s an opportune time, then, to speak about one of the topic reasons people train martial arts: health and fitness benefits.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a great way to get in shape. There are a few reasons for that. But perhaps the most important one is because it’s about more than just working up a sweat.

If you’re on this page, there’s a good chance you’ve tried and failed to establish a habit of exercise in the last. Maybe you got a gym membership you never used, or attempted to become a running person. For most people, these types of exercise are no fun.

By contrast, BJJ is lots of fun. Taking up Jiu-Jitsu means not just a full-body workout. It means learning valuable self-defense skills, making new friends and yes, having fun on the mats.

master royler gracie at gracie miranda

If you take up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, here are some of the health and fitness benefits you can expect:

Weight loss: As you doubtlessly know, rigorous exercise is a great way to accelerate weight loss – and make no doubt about it, Jiu-Jitsu classes are rigorous! 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a spar-heavy martial art. You’ll “roll” with class mates for 20-30 minutes in each class, during which time it’s impossible to work up a sweat. Once you become more skilled and comfortable on the mats, you’ll often find yourself wrestling at basically full intensity. Calories will most definitely be burned. 

Stress relief: This is an important and often unappreciated benefit of training martial arts in general and BJJ in particular. As noted above, you’ll be sparring for a lot of your Jiu-Jitsu practice. As odd as it sounds, rolling in Jiu-Jitsu has an almost meditative quality. Because grappling forces you to concentrate on your opponent, you’ll find ending the class sometimes feels like coming out of a daze. That makes it a very effective circuit breaker, perfect for days when you’re feeling low or stressed.

Muscle toning: To set expectations here, doing Jiu-Jitsu will not make you ripped like a bodybuilder. If you’re looking to pack on 10kg of muscle, you’ll unfortunately need to hit the gym. But practicing BJJ absolutely will make you stronger, especially in the core.

It’s a whole-body workout, where different muscles are worked depending on how the grapple goes. You’ll be squeezing your thighs together when you’re controlling someone in full guard, blasting your core when you’re trying to hip escape out of side control, working your arms and back when you’re trying to restrain someone from getting on top of you. 

Good for your heart health: Just like BJJ uses varied muscle work, it also takes you through the range of cardiovascular zones. Sometimes it’s moderate, sometimes its highly aerobic and sometimes it’s anaerobic. In plain English, sometimes it’s a gentle flow, sometimes it’s akin to a light jog and other times it’s a full-on sprint. 

It’s certainly true that activities like running and cycling are great for your cardio. But whereas those activities are typically predicated around staying within the aerobic zone, Jiu-Jitsu gives your heart a dynamic and varied workout.

Of course, like every physical endeavor, there are some precautions you’ll want to take when you train martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu. 

Warming up properly before class is crucial. That’s why at Gracie Botany the first 5 to 15 minutes of each class is dedicated to a warmup routine that goes through a bunch of Jiu-Jitsu movements. This is good for your cardio, but also important for injury prevention.

Stretching and post-workout cooldowns are recommended, too. Jiu-Jitsu is all about being tight and making yourself as tight as possible. That involves a lot of curling of the back and bringing your knees to your armpits. Countering this with opposing movements, like a cobra stretch, is valuable. Even 5 minutes of stretching after class makes a difference!

And, of course, there’s sleep. If you’re new to martial arts, expect Jiu-Jitsu to take a lot out of you. Resting up is essential for results – just like in any other sport.

If you’re in the Sutherland Shire and are interested in taking up BJJ, come into Gracie Miranda for a free trial class.