Is Jiu Jitsu a Good Workout? My Opinion

A person working out

Is Jiu Jitsu a Good Workout? My Opinion

From karate and judo to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is an expansive arena of martial arts. Each uses the body and mind and their respective power in unique and different ways. Harnessing this power can bring you quite the experience.

So, is Jiu Jitsu a workout? Yes. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uses your whole body to help you subdue your opponent. Your arms, legs, and core will be strengthened through each move, also improving your coordination and power. Your overall balance and control will be enhanced by studying Jiu Jitsu. 

At first, learning the basics of Jiu Jitsu may not seem as powerful a workout as lifting weights at the gym. While you will not become ridiculously muscular overnight, Jiu Jitsu will give you greater control of your muscles and your mind. Read on to find out more about the hidden workout found in learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

All About Jiu Jitsu: Working Out Gracie’s Way

Initially used by samurai as a last line of defense, Jiu Jitsu has become known as a beautiful form of self-defense. It gained traction under Mitsuyo Maedo as it slowly broke out of Japan. Known as Conde Coma in Brazil, Maedo landed in Brazil to teach his master’s art to those in the country. He quickly found Carlos Gracie, a struggling teenager, and took him under his tutelage. 

Gracie, being a petite man, began perfecting techniques that allowed people of small stature to win mixed martial art, or MMA, fights against people of all sizes and weights. When he started his first school, many of his siblings joined. Thus, the Gracie family truly helped Brazilian Jiu Jitsu take off.

Basic Jiu Jitsu Movements That Give You a Workout

Basic Jiu Jitsu drills can actually provide quite an intense workout. One of the basic movements, shrimping, is a movement that needs to be practiced and perfected for a long time. It involves lying on your back, rolling from side to side, and pushing yourself back on the mat with your legs.

This creates space between you and your opponent, giving both of you a moment to collect yourselves before sparring again. Lifting your back off the mat reduces friction and quickens this movement. This helps with body coordination, core strength, and gives a killer thigh workout

Sometimes it is necessary to create space between you and your opponent before shrimping. Bridging is an excellent tool for this. To bridge, lay on your back and bring your feet up to your glutes. Pushing the balls of your feet into the ground, push your hips into the air. This should release some of the weight from your opponent off of you, giving you enough time to shrimp away. This is another great leg and core workout. 

Grip strength is a focus of Jiu Jitsu as well. With the need to grip your opponents’ wrists, arms, and other joints, your ability to grip often coincides with your ability to win a match. While training consistently in Jui-Jitsu will improve this over time, there are many grip strength training tools available today, like using stress balls. 

What to Expect from a Jiu Jitsu Workout

Jiu Jitsu uses weight and leverage to bring down an opponent. So, people who practice Jiu Jitsu will learn a great deal of control over their bodies. This control will increase your strength without bulking you up too much. 

Jiu Jitsu’s initial goal while sparring is to bring the opponent down to the ground. This lessens their ability to use brute strength to overtake you. Once on the ground, one can use a variety of choke-holds and pins to hold their opponent. Training for this involves strength conditioning and a variety of drills. 

Since Jui-Jitsu is not about being the strongest in the match, participants will not be focused solely on strength training. Instead, the rolls, pins, and other movements can be considered whole-body conditioning with an emphasis on your core. Stamina in cardio is also involved when full sparring takes place. While practicing Jiu Jitsu, there will be personal drills, technique drills, positional drilling, and full sparring. Each of these will be a different workout. 

Personal Jiu Jitsu Drills

While Jiu Jitsu is known for helping a little guy take out a big guy, what happens when two people are equally matched in weight and skills? Most likely, the stronger opponent will win. So, personal drills are done to increase your strength and promote muscle memory of certain moves. 

Trainers prefer you to do exercises that engage your whole body at once, as this compliments the style of Jiu Jitsu. So, practitioners will often do squats, lunges, and planks to improve their strength training. While these are not strictly Jiu Jitsu moves, they compliment the art. 

Technique Drills

During a technique drill, you will first watch the instructor demonstrate the move on an opponent. Then, you will be asked to practice the move on a classmate who will not fight back. This helps to develop your muscle memory.

As you begin by practicing things, such as a traditional side roll, you will slowly do them faster and faster until you move up to isolation sparring. As you are rolling, sparring, and continually adjusting your weight and moving around, you will get quite the core workout. 

Technique drills are first and foremost about perfecting your technique, though. Just as one needs to have a solid stance when deadlifting weights, your instructor may critique things about your moves to help you be safe and more effective. With this, know that technique will come before speed and strength. 

Isolation Sparring

When you move on to isolation sparring, also called positional drilling, you will begin putting your moves into more realistic practice. At this point, you should have the move into a smooth flow. This time, however, your opponent is allowed to fight back using only a few select steps.

Positional drilling will work on your cardio and overall strength as you begin practicing and being practiced upon. Additionally, it will quicken your reaction time as you learn how people react to different moves.

Full Sparring

Full sparring is where the most intense workout can be found in Jiu Jitsu. This is when all moves are out, and each opponent is hoping to win. These matches are often done as a culmination of your training for a specific belt. 

Other Jiu Jitsu Drills

Depending on your instructor’s training and variety of Jui Jitsu, it is likely that some will incorporate more self-defense into the practice, while others may focus more on strength and conditioning. If you are genuinely looking for a Jui Jitsu workout, talk with the instructor beforehand to get a feel for their goals and philosophy for the class. 

For example, if the instructor is similar or follows the Gracie family applications, they will often focus on the self-defense aspects. A standard drill is for the students of a class to surround one student in a circle. Then, randomly, one student will attack the one in the middle to better simulate a real-life scenario. 

Health Considerations of Jui Jitsu

If you are hoping to work out, lose weight, or get better control of your body, Jui Jitsu can be a spectacular place to start. One main reason is that it has a very low injury rate. The study “Assessment of Injuries During Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competition” reports that the competition injury rate is around .02%. 

However, Jiu Jitsu uses many joint locks to win competitions. If you have weak or dysfunctional joints, it is essential to consult your doctor before beginning the practice. While knee and spine attacks are not permitted, injury to these areas is still possible. 

In Conclusion 

Jiu Jitsu is all about precision and knowing your body. As you begin to train, you will get both a physical and mental workout. By focusing your strength into specific moves, your understanding of your potential will skyrocket. 

This allows you to be confident in self-defense and in what your body is capable of. This newfound confidence can help boost your self-esteem and desire to work out more. 

All in all, you can see why we love Jiu Jitsu for a well-rounded workout that strengthens the body as one unit, rather than focusing solely on one part of the body. With this, we can be healthy and whole through our martial arts practice. 


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