Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

You may have noticed the popularity of MMA (mixed martial arts) events on television and pay-per-view specials in addition to seeing a few notable athletes in movies and television. The popularity of MMA is fairly new, yet a number of martial arts that fighters use to defeat their opponents, including Brazilian jiu jitsu, have existed for centuries. Below, you’ll be more interested in the sport after learning of the many benefits training affords.


In the early 1600s, Japan experienced a time of peace following feudal wars, yet military and civilians alike shared the mantra, “live in peace but remember war.” It was agreed that people should learn self-defense, and many styles of fighting were used, yet grappling, fighting without the use of weapons, grew in popularity. Grappling incorporated many techniques and styles used in hand-to-hand combat while its main focus taught disciples to fight from the ground. Jiu-Jitsu grew from Judo, and the Gracie family is often credited with bringing the style of fighting to Brazil and ultimately the USA.


One of the greatest benefits (if not the top good) that masters of the art agree upon is the discipline awarded to those who train. It takes many years to attain a black belt (with those continuing their training for decades getting a red belt). Graduation depends upon learning technique, displaying mastery of moves, but ultimately, a teacher decides when a disciple has learned the discipline aligned with each belt status. Such discipline and focus is used in other facets of life, such as education, family life, and citizenship. While many novices think it’s exciting to learn ‘how to fight,’ masters of the art frown upon using learned techniques for nothing other than self-defense and health.

Cardiovascular and Muscle

Training involves strength training and building of the cardiovascular system. Once a beginner learns basic discipline and elementary tactics, they begin training or “rolling” with others on the team. Training necessitates technique but incredible cardiovascular strength and stamina. Those who train find themselves stronger than ever before in addition to improving their abilities to address activities that require great cardiovascular tenacity. So, while Jiu-Jitsu is a sport itself, with those training for extended periods engaging in BJJ tournaments, disciples also do better at such sports as jogging, tennis, baseball, dancing, surfing, and a number of other activities that demand balance, hand-eye coordination, and focus.

New Friends

Intense training makes friends out of teammates, and the passion of the sport forms bonds between like-minded individuals. While many business people join organizations and attend events to meet friends and potential business partners, the sport attracts people of both sexes, various ages, and those who work in a number of industries. You may find yourself training with a police officer in one class and a mechanical engineer in another before meeting a student of law by the end of the week. Aside from meeting new people, it’s comforting to know the same people share a focus of mind, respect of body, and a devotion toward civility.

Self Esteem

Have you ever went for a long run, finished a home project, or been congratulated at work and felt a sense of fulfillment and boosted self esteem? Such is the feeling you get after each class as well as participation in organized matches. Classes are open to the public yet a small percentage of those “interested” in the sport actually give it a try. Moreover, fewer numbers have what it takes to graduate from a white-belt status. Aside from ongoing attendance and learning technique, the sport requires discipline and dedication that many want but not all achieve. Continued attendance brings a great sense of self esteem with it, a feeling that longtime masters believe is incomparable.

Interpersonal Skills

On the first day of attendance, it is common for a newcomer to get paired with the most-skilled in the class (aside from the professor). Such pairing is done for encouragement as well as the development of interpersonal skills. Eventually, a newcomer gains experience and gets paired with those of lesser experience. The student slowly becomes the teacher and remembers how intimidating it was to step on the mat for the first time, assuaging the anxieties of those coming after them. Since it takes (at least) seven years to get a black belt, a seasoned disciple never forgets what it’s like to be a student, being faced with new challenges; however, one’s ability to teach is constantly reinforced as new students rotate into the school and classes.

Chris Carlino is the co-founder of the American Grappling Federation, a Texas based Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament promotion with events spanning multiple states. Chris is currently a purple belt and has been training BJJ for over 7 years.