If you walk into a real Jiu-Jitsu school you will notice something different that most American Karate schools. You will notice that most adult classes are bigger than the kids classes. In fact most Jiu-Jitsu gyms have huge adult classes and smaller kids classes. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that Jiu-Jitsu is very complex. It is an art that deals with angles, leverage and endless strategy. It is often said that Jiu-Jitsu is like running sprints, lifting weights, and playing chess all at the same time. It is also very hard physically demanding. Kids will often shutdown when someone bigger is holding them down, where adults understand that for a real life survival situation they need to learn the proper skills to escape. In Jiu-Jitsu the question isn't if you will have an injury but when and how severe. That seems terrible to think about, but to practice real self defense you must practice against a real attacking opponent. Adults also understand the importance of mental toughness. Often the best training comes when you are injured. You are forced to used different techniques, to dive deeper in the mental side of Jiu-Jitsu.
While Jiu-Jitsu is hard, the benefits far outweigh the risk. We would write an almost endless list of the benefits so for the sake of space and time we will only focus on my top five.
5) You will never stop learning. With punching and kicking you can only have so many combinations. You can improve speed, angles and timing but there are still only so many options. This means that you will use your brain. You will be forced to learn. One of the most difficult parts of getting older is getting stuck in a routine. We stop stretching our minds. This is why you see a lot of depression with adults, because we have nothing to challenge us. I have personally heard people who have trained for forty years sit back in amazement saying they still have so much to learn.
4) You will make new friends. This one may seem silly but it's absolutely important. I once had a karate guy train with me for one month. One night he said he wished his karate school had people just sitting around and talking after class. I watched one of his classes and it was very mechanical. It was a get in, don't talk, do these moves by yourself, and then get out so the next class can start. In Jiu-Jitsu you will laugh and cry together. At the end of class you will see most of the students sitting around covered in sweat laughing and talking about their week. These are people from all different backgrounds. There is really nothing like the camaraderie in a Jiu-Jitsu school. You will be part of an amazing team.
3) You will regain your competitive spirit. Another leading cause of unhappiness in adults is the lack of a physical challenge. The weekday practices followed by the Friday night games kept excitement in your life. In the weight room the challenge of lifting more than your friends kept you motivated. As we get older the challenge often becomes just waking up and doing the same thing over and over again. One of the most amazing things I see is seventy year olds competing in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. I try to talk to them each time. They all say the same thing, "I feel alive again."
2) You will get in shape. I ran track, did years of weight training, played baseball, football, wrestled, took karate classes, boxing, and kickboxing. Nothing has ever challenged my body like Jiu-Jitsu. The only thing I have ever found that comes close is competitive swimming. In Jiu-Jitsu you have to control your breathing, while defending yourself against someone trying to choke you. Most adults some in not understanding how out of shape they are. I have had runners, crossfitters, and people from all backgrounds come in. Most are amazed they can only last about one minute. The goal is to improve to the point where you can go ten - six minute rounds in one class. It takes time but its awesome to see someone go from one to sixty minutes of training.
1) You will learn the worlds number one martial art. I really think the world has forgotten 1993. In 1993 Jiu-Jitsu was introduced to the world in the first UFC. It was style verses style back then and Jiu-Jitsu dominated. Modern Karate schools claim they teach effective self defense but this isn't accurate at all. Real self-defense has always been and will always be distance management. It's either getting as far away from an attacker or as close and possible to an attacker. To stand in the middle and try to punch or kick is not only silly, but it is very dangerous. I have personally heard Karate instructors agree with that it's not good for self-defense but say that it's great for teaching students basic balance and flexibility. I always joke with them and remind that dance does the same thing. I have had guys come in with twenty plus years of karate training only to be dominated by a teenage girl in my gym. The sad part is that most of the time these guys never come back which is unfortunate.
The truth is that Jiu-Jitsu is really hard, really challenging, and really fun all at the same time. It is also true that the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu are endless. Let me encourage you to go try a class at a gym near you. Make sure it's a real gym and beware of karate schools that say they teach ground fighting or Jiu-Jitsu. Check out the lineage of the instructor. It should be clear. If the teacher is wearing a black belt don't hesitate to ask about his training in Jiu-Jitsu. In searching for a gym google is your friend. If you have trouble finding someone, feel free to send me a message and I'll help you find one near you.
Now go train,
Professor Nathan Lott
1st Degree Black Belt