Submit Mental Illness
For those of us that have been practicing martial arts for a while, there’s a hidden benefit and unexplainable component to the sport that anyone that has never stepped barefoot on a mat has a hard time understanding.
To someone on the outside, a combat sport is stressful, nerve-racking, and aggressive; In reality it brings us mental clarity, peace and induces a new calmness in us.
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Exercise as a whole has been proven to be a mood booster, but jiu jitsu in particular has been documented to help with anxiety disorders, ADHD, depression, as well as many other mental health issues.
How, you ask? Here are some of the ways you can use martial arts to help address mental health (but remember to also seek medical treatment if you need it!).
1) Mental Engagement- On top of the obvious physicality of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the mental aspect of the sport. Drills engage your brain and force all other thoughts out of your mind for that glorious hour or two, rolling is even a step above that. Figuring out where and when to move your body, how to position yourself and guess where your opponent is going to move next is exhausting both mentally and physically! For a lot of people, this allows them to reset their negative thoughts towards something positive instead of dwelling on the bad.
2) Supportive Community- A massive component to mental health is the tendency to try and hide it by seclusion. Finding a group of people that see you as family and want to help you through thick and thin is incredible and so beneficial to everyone, no matter where you’re coming from.
3) Goal oriented- Whether you are working towards a particular competition or just trying to roll well in class, Jiu Jitsu is a great way to give you something to work towards. Having a goal not only helps people push through when they feel down or unmotivated, it also is a great way to invest positively in yourself. Regardless of the outcome, you have devoted hours of training into your game and are undoubtedly improved in some way.
4) Body respect- If you are working hard to get better on the mats, you are also working hard to make your body as efficient as possible. By default this usually turns into fueling your body correctly and treating it better. The release of hormones in Jiu Jitsu gives a lot of people a natural way to help them sleep or get that endorphin rush that isn’t synthetic. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not just a way to get out some frustration with no repercussions; it is an art that gives people an outlet for a variety of problems.
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Some of them are mental, some of them are physical, some are even emotional! No matter what your reason for starting Jiu Jitsu, remember that another person might have walked into the gym for a completely different reason and neither of you are wrong. The Martial Arts community is one of the most inclusive and we should all be proud to be a part of it! If you are currently going through mental illness, it is essential to be under a Doctor’s supervision and care, but a healthy dose of Jiu Jitsu could be just what they order. They begin to eat better, which in turn balances out their body chemistry and lightens the load of their natural body systems.
5) Provides a platform- Just as important as giving those with mental disorders a way to combat them, is giving them a place they can be open about them. It is becoming increasingly more common to speak up about personal problems and how individuals are finding ways to feel better. Making mental health awareness a public problem is not only helpful for those going through the struggle currently, but gives the kids in the sport an easy transition into their own discussion in the future.
The amazing John Danaher has released his first DVD in the Gi! Check out his DVD "Go Further Faster: Pin Escapes and Turtle Escapes". This fundamental DVD will give you the technique and insight to get to a higher level in the sport and second, to reduce the time ordinarily taken to get there. Check it out here!
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