I struggle with running and lifting weights. I’ve read about the high that people experience when they run or go to the gym and I suppose it just was not meant to be.
So if like me running is not your thing perhaps martial arts is. I’ll save you the typical speech about the health benefits of martial arts and the self defence side of the argument because it’s like a broken record. Here’s the the thing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for me has 2 things that it brings on top of the health and badass feeling that other martial arts provide.
Firstly, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is good for your mental health. Not in the way that every other exercise is good for your mental health (however true that is). The truth is BJJ is greuling, it is tough, and getting good at it is rewarding. It’s probably the one area of my life where how much time I put in correlates to how good I get.
There are very little other factors that come into how good someone is. I’m not the only one that feels that way. I got to meet Erin Herle at a Seminar in New York and she is the founder of Submit the Stigma, a non-profit Jiujitsu organisation dedicated to talking about mental health and suicide, it was fascinating to see how such a niche sport had a marking affect on so many of its practitioners.
If I had to break it down, BJJ is a complex puzzle with physical consequences (i.e someone trying to choke you or break your limbs) and in surviving this and potentially applying your own game there is a reward mechanism that ticks somewhere up in your brain.
Now as for the second reason why I believe BJJ is quite an interesting sport for people who don’t fit the mould is because it is so technical and so niche that the people you meet are intuitive and smart. And I mean smart. I walk onto the mats 3-4x a week and get choked out by a friend who is a PHD candidate in Optometry, a friend who holds a PHD in Medicine, Lawyers, a friend who has a graduate degree in Engineering and wrestle with accountants and finance advisers (those are the ones you place nice to when you’re broke like me).
You will be surrounded with successful people, with smart people. One of the great coaches of BJJ is a PHD candidate in Philosophy out of Columbia University. Because despite the stereotype of the fighter being a brute, my experience so far has been contradictory. BJJ weeds out the ego dimwits because it is so technical and trust me on this, a fifteen-year-old girl will choke out a 23-year-old rugby player.
All of this is just to say that if running and conventional means of getting fit have not worked for you, come wrestle and do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
You’ll feel great, see progress and be surrounded by people who are inspiring in what they do off the mats. You will be surrounded by nerds who are lethal and that to me is incredible.