On a pleasant afternoon in Rio de Janeiro, while he had lunch, a black-belt was sharing with a white-belt friend the benefits of practicing BJJ: “To this day I am impressed with how our art helps the students — with coordination, with gaining physical power, with cardio, with relationships, with conquering things…” After chewing some sushi he added, “Man, BJJ even helps the awkward guy have better sex.”
And thus is BJJ — useful for nearly all problems, even of the sexual nature. But what about when sex threatens to get in the way of a BJJ fighter before a competition or an important training session? Graciemag decided to investigate.
According do Dr. Turíbio Barros, a specialist in the physiology of exercise, one of the most common questions from athletes is, “Does having sex the night before a tournament hinder performance?”
Dr. Barros says: “In fighting sports, like boxing and MMA, it is known that sexual abstinence for some time before a fight is considered a true paradigm. The specialists of those sports think that the athlete accumulates aggression that might enhance physical strength when they abstain from sex during a certain period prior to a competition.” However, he points out, no study has proven scientifically the hypothesis that sex is in fact harmful to the athlete on the verge of competing.
“In fact, from the physiological point of view, sexual activity can be considered even a benefit for a pre-exercise period. Some scientific studies show that the endorphin discharge associated with sex is a mechanism that even provides a period of more effective rest in the following hours. In other words, after sex, rest recovers the person better, and physical disposition the next day is enhanced.”
Like everything in life, the matter seems to be one of balance; the same way a certain dose of exercise improves sexual appetite, a moderate, alcohol-free night of love-making followed by eight hours of good sleep can do wonders for many fighters. It is an issue of self-knowledge: Get informed, get tested, and understand how your body reacts.
In the 20th century, however, the Gracie family had one clear rule about this. Grandmaster Helio, for one, was inflexible. Here is his opinion:
“Any great champion suffers the effects of a night of sex on the eve, because that represents a great expense of energy. If sex is used to create a human being, imagine how much energy is involved in that act.”