Research Says: Start Jiu Jitsu for a Healthier, Happier Life

Research Says: Start Jiu Jitsu for a Healthier, Happier Life

Research Says: Start Jiu Jitsu for a Healthier, Happier Life

Sam Williams, PhD candidate, BJJ hopeful.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) isn't just another martial art; it's a powerful tool for personal development and wellness. Picture this: you're on the mats at a Jiu Jitsu academy, grappling with a training partner, sweat dripping, muscles burning. At times, it's intense and exhausting; other times, it's awkward and unexpectedly hilarious. Regardless of the experience, it's always profoundly transformative.

While individual sports and gym workouts can improve fitness, they lack the camaraderie and social benefits found in BJJ. Team sports foster camaraderie, but they don't always push individuals to rely on themselves and handle internal pressure. BJJ manages to intertwine personal challenges and growth with that team camaraderie, nurturing both a tight-knit community and genuine personal development. This combination not only enhances physical fitness but also boosts mental resilience and creates social bonds. Remember the bio-psycho-social model of health we all got sick of hearing about in high school? Well, BJJ might just have all the bases covered. Let’s dive into the research behind why you should start Jiu Jitsu today.

The Hidden Life Skills

When I first stepped onto the mats, I thought I was signing up for a physical challenge. Well, I was right. But little did I know, it would begin to shape my mind in ways I never imagined and teach me life skills that I never knew I needed.

Research shows how Jiu Jitsu subtly teaches life skills. A study exploring the implicit transfer of life skills through participation in BJJ found that practitioners develop crucial skills such as discipline, perseverance, and problem-solving. Participants of the study reported that the mental challenges on the mats helped them face real-life obstacles with a clearer mind, greater confidence and sharper focus.

The single most important value to get good at BJJ is to not give up. It’s to walk through the door every day, no matter how bad you’ll do. To persevere under pressure … When your opponent’s crushing you down, you don’t give up just because it’s uncomfortable. You persevere … These are values that also translate to the workplace and take place [in] your social interactions. The idea that you don’t give up when you do badly at something, you do it more until you stop doing it badly.

I’ve gained confidence, but I think I’m more approachable now at the same time. So now with doing jiu-jitsu, I’m literally back to where I can walk into the room full of people and actually, I can stand tall if you like

Therapy on the Mats

We all have our battles, and for many, BJJ becomes a sanctuary. A systematic review found that practicing BJJ has significant psychological and social benefits. The review highlights how the structured environment of BJJ classes fosters social connections and psychological well-being. Imagine this: after a tough day, you step onto the mats, and for that hour, nothing else matters. The endorphins kick in, lifting your mood. The camaraderie among practitioners creates a support system like no other, helping manage anxiety, stress and depression. You meet people you would have otherwise never interacted with, let alone wrestled, and you learn to trust them and to rely on them.

“Oh, (I had) a very short fuse. I could just snap at anyone, [but] now I’m very calm. I’ve just become very happy … It's like being on happy pills, seriously.

The environment has to be, you know, relaxed. We have to trust each other very much as we go through armlocks, like techniques that are very dangerous, and you could harm somebody. So, if there's no trust between us, we can't train BJJ. And that creates an environment where everybody wants to progress.”

Breaking Down Barriers for Men and Women

Research indicates that BJJ positively impacts men's mental health by creating a non-hierarchical, respectful environment where they can express vulnerability and build emotional resilience. Men can rebuild or test their mental strength, and break down the walls of toxic masculinity; big egos and bullying don’t fly on the mats,

BJJ is also an excellent martial art for women, relying on leverage, angles, and “grappling IQ”. While size and strength can be advantageous, a skilled female practitioner can outmaneuver most untrained men. Women in Jiu Jitsu find empowerment, confidence, and a strong sense of community, making the sport inclusive and supportive for everyone.

Confidence, a hundred percent, I would say for everybody, but especially for any girls who get involved. It teaches you how to even just walk on the streets so that you don't look like a victim.”

Physical Perks and Self Defense

Regular training in BJJ offers significant physical benefits, serving as a full-body workout that enhances cardiovascular health, flexibility, and strength. Whether you're actively sparring or refining techniques, the constant movement improves agility and endurance. Beyond physical fitness, BJJ doubles as practical self-defense training, empowering practitioners to defend themselves through technique rather than sheer force.

The evidence is undeniable: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu offers a multitude of benefits. More than just a sport or martial art, it's a path to enhancing your mental, physical, and social well-being. Sounds grandiose right? Take the plunge, stay consistent for 3 months, and then come back here and tell me how right I was. Whether you're seeking mental clarity, improved fitness, or a supportive community, BJJ provides it all. Whether you prefer Gi or no-Gi Jiu Jitsu, search for "Jiu Jitsu classes near me" and start a journey that promises growth, strength, and resilience.



  1. Aleksandar E. Chinkov & Nicholas L. Holt (2015): Implicit Transfer of Life Skills Through Participation in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Available from:
  2. Blomqvist Mickelsson, T. (2021): Brazilian jiu-jitsu as social and psychological therapy: a systematic review. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 21(3): 1544-1552. Available from:
  3. Ben Morris, Andrew Bone (2024). Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wellbeing: an inductive thematic analysis exploring how BJJ can increase subjective well being. Mental Health and Social Inclusion. Available from:   


Meta-Data suggestion: Discover the transformative power of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) – a martial art that science says enhances mental clarity, physical fitness, social well-being and self-defense skills.

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