Author: Ivan Rocha
Jiu-Jitsu brings numerous benefits to a student’s mental health. We live in a world where most people suffer from anxiety and/or depression. We have never seen a society as fragile as the present one. More and more the human being feels the need for something that can fill a void, a magic item that can relieve the pressure and take their focus off the problems.
One of the great benefits of Jiu-Jitsu is the improvement of concentration and focus. For example, during a training session or a Jiu-Jitsu competition, a detail makes all the difference. Sometimes we need to think and execute more than one movement in a short period of time. If you don’t keep yourself aware, your performance can decline.
The values and philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu make you calmer, more centered, and balanced. The practice of the soft art helps our mind to become stronger and armored against stress and depression. Physical activity helps in the release of dopamine – the hormone responsible for our well-being and pleasure – and, as a result, our self-confidence is boosted.
Besides these improvements in mental health, Jiu-Jitsu is primordial to keep fit and fight or prevent diseases such as obesity. Establishing a training routine and practicing physical activities regularly stimulate body mass gains and are valuable aspects to boost your performance on the mat.
If we have a balanced mind, we reduce our anxiety levels and are able to sleep better. The quality of sleep is crucial for us to face our daily challenges, whether on or off the mat. A good night’s sleep is synonymous with quality of life.
Jiu-Jitsu leaves the practitioner ready to face any pressure in the professional and personal spheres. The constant hardships in training and uncomfortable situations teach us in practice the power of consistency and effort. Once we have withstood that pinch, we feel prepared to confront the greatest adversity.
I stand for these arguments because I have been training Jiu-Jitsu for 23 years. It was on the mat where I learned great lessons that shaped me. I understood that we are stronger than we imagine and that we must run after our dreams. I also learned that physical and mental health are the most precious assets we have, so we must take care of ourselves physically and mentally.
I believe that mental preparation is more challenging than physical preparation, because it is our mind that guides us. Our mentality drives or blocks our actions. Fear is inherent to the human being, but we cannot be dominated by this feeling. When fear and anxiety overcome us, we become powerless in the face of the situation. I always tell my students that success is ahead of us, however, we must pay the price.
Believe in each conquest as if it already existed. It is interesting to train with stronger athletes and with a higher level of Jiu-Jitsu than you, these factors make your mind more confident and your body stronger. Facing the hard daily routine and the pressure for results, it is advisable for high performance athletes to invest in psychologists to strengthen the mind.
I started to value mental preparation about 15 years ago, when I noticed that beginner students started training because of low self-esteem. After a few months in Jiu-Jitsu, they presented a significant evolution in several aspects, such as socialization with training partners, recovery of self-confidence, and muscle hypertrophy. These small daily gains always left me fulfilled as a teacher. This encouraged me to go on with my work and to reinforce to them that it is essential to keep mind and body aligned. Jiu-Jitsu is the tool I use to transform the lives of my students and pass on the teachings I have learned from my professors.
* GMI professor Ivan Rocha is a third-degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and was trained at Gracie Barra Belo Horizonte.