1. Your body and mind will be in better shape
Who knew beating people up on the mat (or getting beaten up) could have such wonderful therapeutic effects? I started training martial arts during a stressful period, which made me furious 24/7. Since I already felt like punching people in everyday life, it seemed like doing it in a martial arts class would be a perfect way to blow off some steam.
And it was. The amazing effects of exercise performed on a regular basis have been described many times (if you’re interested in the scientific background then see here), but the bottom line is – it works. Jiu jitsu is incredibly helpful with overcoming all kinds of problems small or big.
The most pleasant side effect of jiu jitsu is of course the BJJ body. Regardless of your size and weight the muscle mass that you develop while training improves the shape of your body (see How will your body change when you start training BJJ). Combined with the effects on the mind, Brazilian jiu jitsu makes you feel great. Or at least until…
2. You’ll get injured
Twisted ankles, torn ligaments, shoulder bones popping out – the list of common jiu jitsu injuries goes on and on. After a while (or a long while in my case) you learn to heal them properly instead of jumping back on the mats straight away. Contusions never cease to be painful and annoying, but eventually they become a normal part of the reality.
The humorous side of it is that many BJJ people seem to be experts in the healing process and rehab of whatever injuries they happened to sustain. If you suffer from a similar affliction they are very keen to help, which is lovely but… the compiled medical knowledge of all academy members could either lead to creation of an expert manual on managing every possible injury in the human body or to a disaster, as some of the advice tends to be highly questionable. Your teammates have the best intentions, but seriously, you can’t heal staph by sticking an onion on it.
3. You’ll experiment with freaky diets (but will end up eating better in general)
Eating one meal per day, the keto diet, the dukan diet, living on meal replacement shakes – if you’ve trained for more than a year, you’ve probably tried out one or more of these fad diets.
The goal is usually to improve your physique, fitness or BJJ performance. Even if the means of reaching these goals are slightly crazy, it’s generally a positive thing. Testing out extreme approaches not only prompts you to expand your knowledge of nutrition, but also helps reach the conclusion that these are unsustainable in everyday life. In the long-run, the knowledge you acquired during your search for the right eating plan, will help you become healthier than you were before you started.
4. You’ll acquire strange new skills
And I don’t mean the ability to choke people with their own pyjamas.
After a while you’ll be able to correctly guess someone’s weight division by just looking at them. Other strange skills involve recognising various types of skin diseases or draining cauliflower ears. (Let me know if you can think of any more!)
5. You won’t give up easily
You’ll travel to faraway places or get up at 3 am to drive to a comp in the middle of nowhere. You’ll be dieting to make weight, and of course training really hard and giving your best. All of that to lose your first fight. But this hasn’t stopped thousands of other BJJ athletes from doing it all over again multiple times and it won’t stop you either. This is the coolest thing about jiu jitsu.