It’s common knowledge that playing regular sport and exercise is beneficial to your physical health, however, the lesser know fact is that physical exercise can have a positive effect on mental well-being too. Extensive research has shown that participating in regular sporting activities have reduced levels of anxiety and improved mood. Having said that exercise is good for you, the question is how is BJJ good for your mind?
One of the aspects of BJJ For me personally it was the questioning and learning aspect that keeps you mind young. Children are always asking questions, trying to understand and discover new things. This is something we can lose as we move into adulthood. Scientists call this a loss of neuroplasticity. BJJ creates an environment that stimulates the brain back to that childlike mind set of questioning and seeking. Improving your brain’s neural connections. Almost giving you back a youthful mind, unfortunately it doesn’t have the same effect on the outside. This is an going and important benefit and one of the key aspects that attracted me to start BJJ.
Alongside the actual learning and enquiring side of BJJ the benefit that goes with this is memory improvement. You spend a lot of time learning what can potentially be very complicated techniques. Understanding how to apply these techniques and then recalling them on an ongoing basis, especially under stress is a really positive benefit of BJJ. A lot of the time we can get into a routine and not have to think too much in our day to day lives. BJJ takes you out of this routine and forces you to use your memory. BJJ is a lifelong pursuit and this stimulation of the mind and the memory in particular is a vital aspect of retaining as much of our brain’s ability as we age.
In todays hectic world it is very hard for us to really let go of ongoing stresses and mentally relax. BJJ is one of those activities that can give your mind an opportunity to relax. As we become adults we get more responsibilities, bills, family and work. These can all set our mind racing, worrying about a deadline at work or what’s happening at school with you little one. But for the hour or two you are learning, drilling and sparring, you can’t help but let go of what is happening outside of the training hall. The process of learning a technique requires as much mental activity as it does physical, the amount of focus needed does not allow you to think about (or worry about) something at the same time. Also the last thing that you will be thinking about whilst your training partner is putting on that brabo choke, is the deadline at work. This may seem like exchanging one sort of stress for another, but it is all about perception. If you find the training enjoyable and a pleasure, it is a break from the negative stress of work and day to day life.
Finally there is mental focus and resolve. We have all experienced the time when we have gotten caught with everything in training, but still go back the next day because we enjoy BJJ so much. That determination to find a solution to that choke or that sweep that your partner always catches you with. This level or mental strength and determination is something that you will find in all jiu jitsu practioners, because it is the only way to overcome the problems that come up. You can’t avoid it or ignore it, you have to deal with it. Out of all of the benefits I feel this is the biggest one, as it can have such a positive impact on your life overall, not just on you jiu jitsu.
I am sure that all of us have noticed these benefits at one time or another or can at least look back and have even more of a reason to keep training.