What Is Jiu Jitsu And Is It For You?

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By Luciana Oliveira

Arte Suave

Jiu Jitsu, often referred to as the “gentle art” our “arte suave”, is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting, joint locks, and submission holds.

Originating from traditional Japanese Jujutsu and Kodokan Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) has evolved into one of the most popular martial arts in the world. But is it the right fit for you? Let’s dive into the world of martial arts to find out together.

Table of Contents

Is BJJ For You?

Jiu Jitsu is a Blast!

Let’s not forget one of the most compelling reasons to try Jiu Jitsu—it’s incredibly fun! The joy of learning new techniques, the thrill of a well-executed submission, and the camaraderie among training partners make each session an adventure.

Whether you’re rolling on the mat or cheering on your teammates during a competition, the fun factor in Jiu Jitsu is undeniable. It’s not just a martial art; it’s a community, a challenge, and a source of endless enjoyment.

Physical Benefits

One of the physical benefits of Jiu Jitsu is that it offers a full-body workout, targeting both the upper body and lower body. Many BJJ practitioners have reported significant weight loss and improved physical strength.

Mental Focus

BJJ training requires immense mental focus and can be a great way to relieve stress. The art teaches you how to handle stressful situations and improves your mental health.

Self Defence

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best martial arts for self-defence. It teaches you how to control a stronger assailant and get into a suitable position to apply submission holds.

Community Support

This is a big one for me and it warms my heart. I love being in the gym because from day 1 I felt welcomed. I cannot stress this enough! I felt like I was meant to be there from the moment I walked in and still feels the same to this day.

The BJJ community is known for its supportive environment. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced martial artist, you’ll find good reasons to be part of this community.

All Ages

One of the beautiful aspects of Jiu Jitsu is its accessibility to people of all ages. Whether you’re a young child just starting to explore the world of martial arts or a senior looking for a new way to stay active, Jiu Jitsu offers something for everyone.

The techniques are adaptable, allowing for different levels of physical ability, and the supportive community makes it easy for newcomers to feel welcome.

So, whether you’re 8 or 80, it’s never too late to start your Jiu Jitsu journey. Remember to be gentle and patient with yourself and have fun!

Jujutsu to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. Mitsuyo Maeda, a master of Kodokan Judo founded by Jigoro Kano, travelled to Brazil and taught Carlos Gracie, the eldest son of Gastão Gracie.

Carlos, along with his brother Helio Gracie, adapted the techniques to create what we now know as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The Gracie family, including Royce Gracie and Renzo Gracie, have been instrumental in popularizing BJJ, especially in the United States.

It’s important to note that traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are separate martial arts.

The former includes striking techniques and is often part of the training in the Japanese military. The latter is more focused on ground fighting and submission techniques.

The Technique

Starting anything new is always the hardest part, and Jiu Jitsu is no exception. The first few classes can be downright scary and daunting.

You’ll be introduced to a variety of new techniques, positions, and terms that might feel like a foreign language. The first few months will be a struggle, and it’s completely normal to feel lost and overwhelmed at times.

One of the core principles of Jiu Jitsu is the emphasis on proper technique over brute force. This grappling art teaches you how to use your body weight effectively to control your opponent’s movements.

Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of martial arts or an experienced fighter, mastering the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique will significantly enhance your skill set.

The technique of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is designed to allow a weaker person to defend against stronger opponents.

This is achieved through proper weight distribution, leverage, and joint locks. Unlike striking-based martial arts like Muay Thai, BJJ emphasizes gaining a dominant position on the ground.

In BJJ, practitioners start with a white belt and progress through a series of coloured belts until they reach the black belt level.

Each belt represents a different skill level and mastering new techniques is part of the learning process.

What You’ll Need

When you start your Jiu Jitsu training, you’ll need a Gi or a rash guard for no-gi Jiu Jitsu. The Gi is the traditional outfit, consisting of a heavy cotton jacket, pants, and a coloured belt that signifies your rank.

Many practitioners also opt for a mouthguard for added protection. On the other hand, many schools offer no-gi classes where a rash guard and grappling shorts are worn instead.

No-gi attire is more streamlined and allows for quicker movements but lacks the “handles” that a Gi provides for certain techniques.

Choosing the right gear not only enhances your performance but also ensures that you train in a safe and comfortable environment.

There are amazing brands with a wide price range that will suit any budget, from affordable options for beginners to high-end gear for the more serious practitioners.

Whether you’re looking for durability, style, or specialized features, there’s likely a brand that caters to your specific needs.

This flexibility in pricing and options makes it easier for anyone to get started on their Jiu Jitsu journey without breaking the bank.

Overcoming Fears

When I first started my Jiu Jitsu training, one of my biggest fears was getting injured. Let’s face it, injuries can happen anywhere, at any time.

So, why not face that fear while getting fit and learning valuable self-defence techniques? The experience has been transformative, not just for me but for many of my training partners as well.

One of the unique aspects of Jiu Jitsu is that it exposes you to claustrophobic positions, like being pinned under a stronger opponent or finding yourself in side control.

Initially, these positions can be terrifying, but they offer a valuable lesson in learning to stay calm and think your way out. It’s hard, no doubt, but the payoff is immense.

Many in the BJJ community, including myself, have found that the art helps you feel comfortable in discomfort.

Several training partners have shared how Jiu Jitsu has helped them overcome other fears as well. For instance, one of the lads who used to struggle with claustrophobia found that his it significantly diminished after spending time in these tight, uncomfortable positions on the mat.

The ability to “tap out” when a situation becomes too overwhelming is also a great ego-checker. It teaches you the limits of your body and mind, and how to respect those limits, both in yourself and others.

So, if you’re looking to conquer your fears, whether they’re physical or psychological, Jiu Jitsu offers a challenging yet supportive environment to do so.

You’ll come out the other side not just as a better martial artist, but as a more resilient individual.

The secret to overcoming these initial hurdles is simple: stay consistent and keep showing up. Some days will be harder than others, and there will be moments when you think you’ll never get it.

But it’s crucial to push through these mental barriers. With time, the little things start to click, and you’ll find yourself connecting the dots, slowly but surely.

Trust the Process

As mentioned earlier, Jiu Jitsu is a process, one that requires patience, dedication, and a willingness to embrace discomfort.

Don’t worry about the belt, achievements are good and we all want validation, but just focus on training for fun and to learn the skills and techniques, keep up the hard work and consistency.

The initial challenges are just stepping stones on your path to becoming a skilled Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.

So, when you find yourself doubting your abilities or feeling overwhelmed, remember to trust the journey and don’t be scared to ask questions or ask for help. We are all there to help each other and will happily help when needed, especially coaches.

Keep showing up, keep learning, and keep pushing your limits. The rewards, both physical and mental, are well worth the effort.

Transform Your Daily Life

Overcoming fears on the mat has a profound impact on day-to-day life. The mental resilience you build in Jiu Jitsu doesn’t just stay in the dojo; it follows you into your work, your relationships, and even your self-perception.

By learning to manage fear and discomfort during training, you become better equipped to handle life’s challenges, whether it’s a stressful meeting at work or a difficult conversation with a loved one.

One of the surprising benefits I’ve noticed is how effortlessly I’ve become more fit and healthy. Jiu Jitsu is such an engaging and mentally stimulating sport that you often forget you’re exercising.

You get used to using your body in new ways, and before you know it, you’re getting fit without even feeling like you’re “working out.”

Many practitioners, myself included, have also reported better sleep quality, likely due to the physical exhaustion and mental relaxation that comes after a good training session.

Now, let’s talk about injuries. Yes, I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises along the way. But let’s be honest, what sport doesn’t come with its risks?

The key is to approach training with a mindful attitude, listening to your body and knowing when to tap and when to give your body a break to heal.

Injuries are often a part of the learning process, teaching you about your limits and how to better protect yourself, both in training and in life.

So, if you’re looking for a holistic approach to self-improvement—one that enhances your physical fitness, mental fortitude, and even your sleep—Jiu Jitsu might just be the perfect fit for you.

The Joy of the Journey

One of the most paradoxical yet beautiful aspects of Jiu Jitsu is how it makes you feel, even when you’ve had a tough day on the mat.

There have been sessions where I’ve been absolutely smashed during sparring, tapped out multiple times, and found myself in every uncomfortable position imaginable.

Yet, despite these challenges, I still walk out of the gym with a smile on my face and in a great mood. Why is that? It’s because Jiu Jitsu teaches you to find joy in the journey, not just the destination.

Every roll, every tap, and every challenge is a learning opportunity. It’s a chance to improve, to understand your weaknesses, and to come back stronger next time.

Plus, there’s an undeniable sense of camaraderie and community in the gym. Even when you’re the nail instead of the hammer, you’re still part of a collective journey towards self-improvement.

So, if you’re looking for a martial art that not only builds your skills but also uplifts your spirit, Jiu Jitsu is the way to go. The highs are exhilarating, the lows are educational, and every moment spent on the mat contributes to a happier, healthier you.

A Humbling Experience

One of the most important lessons you’ll learn in Jiu Jitsu is to “leave your ego at the door.” This is a sport where you will get choked, arm-locked, and tapped out countless times, especially when you’re just starting out.

It’s crucial to tap early and tap often. There’s no shame in tapping; it’s a sign of respect for your partner’s skill and an acknowledgment of your own limits.

As you continue your journey, you’ll find that these humbling experiences are invaluable. They teach you humility, resilience, and the importance of continuous learning.

Before you know it, you’ll be on the other side, applying those submission holds and dominant control positions you once dreaded.

One of our coaches always says, “Trust the process.” It’s a mantra that resonates deeply within the BJJ community.

The path from white belt to black belt is long and filled with challenges, but every step is part of a larger process of personal and physical development.

So, when the going gets tough, remember to trust the process. Your future self will thank you for it.

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that appeals to a wide range of martial artists, from traditional Japanese martial arts practitioners to modern MMA fighters.

Its fighting style is incredibly versatile, allowing you to transition from a standing position to the ground seamlessly.

This makes it a valuable addition to any martial artist’s repertoire, whether you’re interested in self-defence, competition, or simply improving your physical and mental well-being.

A Daily Commitment

Jiu Jitsu is not just a sport; it’s a lifestyle that requires a daily basis commitment. Progress is marked by the coloured belt system, starting from white and progressing to black.

Each belt represents a different level of skill and understanding of the art. Whether you’re interested in following the path laid out by the Gracie family, Oswaldo Fadda, or forging your own way, the key to success in Jiu Jitsu is consistent practice and an unwavering dedication to improvement.

By embracing the rich history, diverse techniques, and deep philosophy of Jiu Jitsu, you’re not just learning a new martial art; you’re becoming part of a global community dedicated to the pursuit of physical efficiency and mental resilience.

The Legacy of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, developed by the Gracie family including Carlos and Helio Gracie, has been instrumental in popularizing this martial art style globally.

However, it’s worth noting that Oswaldo Fadda, a contemporary of the Gracies, also contributed to the spread of Jiu Jitsu in Brazil.

Fadda’s lineage, like the Gracies’, traces back to Mitsuyo Maeda and Gastao Gracie, and both have had great success in promoting this form of self-defence.

While Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in traditional Jiu-Jitsu and the art of Judo, it has evolved into a distinct system that focuses on ground fighting and submissions like arm locks.

This is in contrast to the older system of traditional Jiu-Jitsu, which also includes striking techniques taught by Buddhist monks.

Renzo Gracie, a member of the Gracie family, has gained international fame (Renzo’s fame, to be precise) for his contributions to the sport and his ability to adapt techniques for opponents of greater size.

Make Your Move

Whether you’re interested in fitness, self-defence, or entering the world of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu offers something for everyone.

With its focus on technique over brute force, it’s often considered the most efficient way to handle a larger opponent or a street fight.

So, are you considering diving into the world of Jiu Jitsu? I took the leap by joining my local academy, RGA Chester, and it’s been a transformative experience. It’s worth seeking out a reputable local school to start your journey.

To conclude, I will share with you a fantastic quote from one of the lads that helped me write this post, and to each one of you…a massive thank you for your time and for the hilarious insights!

“Embrace the beginner mindset. Growth is much more rewarding that way”.

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Luciana, a proud Brazilian, blends her passion for jiu-jitsu with a deep-rooted connection to spirituality and well-being. Her dedication to the martial art reflects not just a physical discipline, but a holistic approach to life, seeking balance in mind, body, and spirit. Whether on the mats or in meditation, Luciana embodies the essence of harmony and inner strength.

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