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Wellness / November 16, 2015

Getting Healthy with Martial Arts: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Written by: Mike Powers
  • The professional fighter? Yes.
  • The guy who wants to learn how to defend himself and his family. Yes.
  • The business professional? Yes.
  • The average guy looking to get in shape and make new friends? Yes.
  • Business women and house mothers? Yes.
  • High-strung kids and teenagers who needs to learn discipline, how to defend themselves and get out energy? Yes.
  • People with physical disabilities? Yes.
  • Someone who is dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts? Yes.

(This is an actual list of my students today.)

I have hundreds of students; Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) brings together all walks of life. We learn to leave our egos at the door. We are a family. I don’t care if you’re a CEO, top lawyer, professional athlete etc. When you step on the mat for class,we’re a team, we’re a family.

Jiu Jitsu is magic!

You take a large human being and subdue him with the greatest of ease. Who doesn’t want to learn how to do that? I thought it was magic when I first started, and I still do today.

I moved to Hong Kong three and a half years ago from San Diego to teach at the largest MMA gym in Hong Kong. It still blows my mind every time I see a huge man walk into my class and how easy it is for me to neutralize him like a child in my hands in a matter of moments. But it makes logical sense. If you take a man that is 6’5 and put him on the ground, then how tall is he? About 2 feet tall. It’s genius. Why am I going to stand with this guy when he clearly has the advantage in his reach and height?

 

Why is Jiu Jitsu so effective as a martial art in a practical situation on the streets?

Simple, because you neutralize his size and strength. Jiu Jitsu is a combination of chokes and joint locks that allows you to take your opponent to the ground to subdue him easily, if you know the techniques. For the common person with no martial arts experience watching Jiu Jitsu looks like aggressive wrestling with chokes and joint locks as you’re trying to break each other’s limbs. But make no mistake about it, every move in Jiu Jitsu is very technical and calculated.

Secret conversations in my head

From time to time, I think every BJJ black belt has secret conversations in their heads. We don’t say it out loud, but we get these thoughts in our heads every so often when sparring with large humans, “I can’t believe how easy it is for me to control this guy!” You can also see in the face of the giant that you’re fighting, thinking the same thing, “I can’t believe how easy it is for this guy to control me!”

It’s not that the black belts are extra talented or strong – he might be a nerd or athletic! – but he’s simply a person who took the time to learn the system of Jiu Jitsu. The first UFCs with Royce Gracie tells the story better than I ever could by a weaker opponent taking out the giants.

Jiu Jitsu saves lives

I have a student today who struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies. He is 18 years old and recently tried to kill himself. His mom signed him up in the gym because his doctor said it could help his depression. When he started he was overweight, depressed, non-social, non-athletic, not strong, and not alert because he was taking 10 pills a day to help his depression.

Two months into his training, he was starting to do better, but he was still struggling mentally. He even told his doctor that he wanted to die! His doctor then put him back into the mental institution for fear that he would try to kill himself again. For the month that he was locked up in this institution, I visited him once or twice a week with my business partner who is also a black belt instructor.

During that month this young man came alive!

We had a great time talking about Jiu Jitsu, life, praying, reading and building our Jiu Jitsu family. Every moment we could, we reminded him that he was a warrior and that he will come out stronger than before – and he did. He got out healthy and happy.

Last month, he got his first stripe on his white belt at the belt promotion. After the promotion he secretly came up to me and said, “Thank you, professor, I feel so good, I’ve never had this feeling before.”  I asked him what he meant by that statement, and replied

“It feels like a family, and I’ve never had that feeling before.”

I quickly looked away from him, because I started to cry.

Today, he is a warrior. He lost 10kg (more than 20 lbs), he’s much more athletic, he’s understanding the techniques, and he went from taking 10 pills a day to help his depression to only one pill a day!

Jiu Jitsu can save your life

Yes, Jiu Jitsu can save your life if you’re ever attacked physically. But the one thing that is overlooked more than anything else in BJJ is how many people’s lives have already been saved mentally and emotionally. Jiu Jitsu has saved the lives of many drug addicts, unhealthy overworked professionals, people struggling through toxic relationships, the list goes on. Millions of people today share this life changing bond of Jiu Jitsu.

I believe God brought Jiu Jitsu into my life to teach me how to be a champion and better person.

Sign up today. Change your life and save your life.

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about the author

Mike Powers

Mike Powers is a 2nd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, under Rodrigo Medreiros in San Diego, CA. He now lives in Hong Kong teaching Jiu Jitsu and MMA with hundreds of students.

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