Five ways Brazilian jiu-jitsu is helping soldiers on the war front

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American soldiers using BJJ in their close-combat class.

By Andre Almeida of Gracie Barra Simi Valley

Jiu-jitsu is becoming increasingly used as a training tool by the Armed Forces. Its characteristics of control and manipulation of the body make jiu-jitsu not only a necessary skill for self-defense and mixed martial arts, but also a must-know technique in the fight against war.

The following 5 theoretical tips/lessons are part of a course that I have taught to many different types of Special Ops teams and branches of the Armed Forces back in Brazil and, most recently, I taught a course to the U.S. Air Force soldiers as part of this squad’s war training:

1) The ethics of war. The jiu-jitsu practitioner should be trained to be the best fighter, but it should also be an instrument to improve life and balance the mind and spirit, strengthening and reinforcing good principles.

2) The training of the mind. The training required for the mastering of jiu-jitsu offers and enables a better understanding of different situations, making it easier for the soldier to read and visualize each peculiarity, which allows the work of a more complete reaction in a situation in check, even under great pressure for a quick response.

3) Understanding the lever. The key is the understanding of the lever in such way that the soldier can learn how to use locks and chokes in an effective way, but knowing how to use a proper reaction to the action taken. In other words, the mastering of jiu-jitsu allows control of the situation without falling into the trap of the abuse of power and, at the same time, the risk of being dominated when in battle.

4) Seeing defeat as a bridge for improvement. Learning how to embrace difficulties and challenges as a path for improvement is a fundamental mindset for the soldier on the war front. Progress in jiu-jitsu begins with a step back so than you can walk forward. You first learn how to fall so that you learn how to get up, and any introduction to jiu-jitsu will teach you to first neutralize the attack and then be offensive. In this way, jiu-jitsu teaches to see failure as a part of progress and to accept defeat as a work in progress.

5) The mastery of jiu-jitsu for personal growth. There is no activity that works and trains every aspect of the individual like jiu-jitsu. An intellectual activity will sharpen the mind but neglect the body; conditioning alone will be beneficial for the body but will neglect the mind. Jiu-jitsu is the only activity that will train and improve all human needs. From a war perspective, the soldier will be trained to keep a sharp mind for the correct application of any measure that requires a strategy action or plan an attack and the body will be trained for the fight but it will also be trained not to be broken and endure the hard days of war.

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