What Does Jiu-Jitsu Do to Your Body?

I have spent most of my life in BJJ, and I have trained many people throughout my career. I see a lot of individuals who want different things from BJJ. Some want to lose weight, while others want to gain mass. Regardless, when any new student comes in, it is a 50/50 as to whether or not I will be asked: What does Brazilian jiu-jitsu do to your body?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an effective way to build your core strength. This core strength isn’t something that can be seen. BJJ also helps improve your overall fitness. Because of the cardio involved in BJJ, you should get more oxygen to the brain. That helps you think clearer while also helping to improve reflexes as well as hand-eye coordination.

There are so many questions and so many ways to phrase the main question of this article. So, our goal is to try and answer as many questions as possible, and hopefully, you find exactly what you are looking for in this article. So, for everything, you need to know about what BJJ might do to your body. I recommend that you keep reading this article.

Will Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Get you in Shape?

First, we need to understand exactly what the question is asking. Getting in shape does not mean any one thing; instead, it translates to your overall fitness. This is a very important thing to keep in mind regardless of what training you do.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the best martial art that you can do to help you in shape for the first time or even back in shape. BJJ is a martial art where you use your entire body. The workouts are often intense, and therefore, it is great for getting in shape for long-lasting periods.

Being overweight does not mean that you are not muscular. At the same time, it does not mean that you are not fit. We can use boxers such as Andy Ruiz as an example. Ruiz doesn’t exactly have the lowest BMI, yet he can last 15 rounds in one of the most cardio-intensive sports, boxing. How is this possible?

When you look at Ruiz, you wouldn’t think that he is in shape. He appears to be overweight, and yes, he isn’t exactly an athletic-looking boxer. But, when you see him last 15 rounds against some of the most athletic boxers globally, it is clear that he is indeed and shave.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Ruin Your Body?

Further down in the article, we will discuss the nature and frequency of jiu-jitsu injuries. So, I am going to keep this section quite brief. Before we answer the question, think about how old some of the best jiu-jitsu Masters are.

Jiu-jitsu does not damage the body, especially if you do it casually rather than use it competitively. BJJ is a martial art that people train in their entire lives. You also have many people start during their 50s, and they normally live in good health.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Cause Brain Damage?

It is impossible to deny the fact that you might take a few hits to the head while doing jiu-jitsu. Even a soft impact can cause blunt trauma and lead to a concussion. Multiple concussions are not good for the brain.

It is rare, but jiu-jitsu can cause concussion and can lead to brain damage in the most serious cases. However, when you compare it to almost any other sport such as soccer, rugby, hockey, basketball, and much more, jiu-jitsu is relatively safe.

You need to compare martial arts to other sports when asking about the risks. Not doing so would be disingenuous, and when you look at other sports, even something like soccer, getting hit with the ball in the head is a risk, but you accept it when you play soccer, and the same would have to be said for jiu-jitsu.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Burn a lot of Calories?

So, if you want to know how many calories Brazilian jiu-jitsu burns because you think that burning more calories will help you lose weight, you might be slightly mistaken. Yes, a calorie deficit is a thing, and if you manage to consume fewer calories than you burn throughout the day, you should theoretically lose weight. It is important to keep that in mind throughout the section.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu should burn around 600 calories every hour. If you are quite skinny, that number could be significantly less. However, the number of calories you burn every hour in jiu-jitsu could also increase if you are on the heavier side. The heavy you are, the more calories you will burn.

Some training sessions will involve sparring. You can burn the same number of calories in a 30-minute sparring session as you would during one hour of regular BJJ training.

However, burning these calories will not magically make you lose weight. It will help if you put some serious thought and effort into your diet. Your best bet would be to look at the calorie deficit diet. Consume more protein than you do carbs, and that way, burning calories in BJJ will mean a lot more than if you continue to eat burgers and pizza.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Burn Fat?

We have already established that Brazilian jiu-jitsu helps you burn calories. We discussed how many calories you should lose in a given amount of time of training. However, there is a lot more to losing weight than just the number of calories you burn in a training session, and once you read through this section, you will fully understand what we are talking about.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu utilizes the entire body. There is a lot of pushing and pulling, which acts as resistance training. When you are pushing, you are putting negative resistance on your muscles, and while you are pulling, you are placing positive resistance on your muscles. Whether or not all of this will help you build muscle is up for debate, and we will discuss it in the next section. It does do something incredible for weight loss, though.

The cardio that you will experience during Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons will assist you if you are trying to lose weight. However, once you are done training and your body goes into recovery, you will burn many more calories than you did during your training, which is the best thing for weight loss.

It is also important to understand that you need to have a sustainable diet. Look, it sounds cliché, and it is butt exercise or diet alone will not cause you to lose weight. Instead, it would be best if you utilized both together to fully feel the effects of one another.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Build Abs?

We are conditioned to believe that having abs is one of the best signs of physical fitness. However, did you know that we all have those muscles? For some, they are just tucked away underneath some excess weight. The bigger your abs, the more they will show and the easier it will be to see.

Jiu-jitsu can build your abs but only to a small extent. What BJJ does do is help you lose some body fat which makes it easier for your abs to show. If you truly want abs while doing jiu-jitsu, your best bet is to work on them by doing sit-ups and crunches during your spare time.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Build Strength?

Many people tend to think of big muscles when they think of strength, but throughout my journey and with my years of experience, I can say that muscle mass does not directly translate to strength. Look, we know you were looking for a direct answer, so let’s get that to you, but then I want to discuss a few details in depth.

BJJ is one of the greatest strength-building exercises that you can do. Your core strength is where your true power lies, and that is what Brazilian jiu-jitsu does. It builds your core strength. Now, what do we mean by your “core”? Well, it is your overall strength.

I was hoping you could think of guys like Eddie Hall. These are extremely strong men, and they are partaking in competitions to see who is the strongest. When you look at them, you will immediately notice their sheer size.

You can’t see the definition of their muscles but trust me, they are there. They are just hidden underneath a lot of mass. However, they have to be big because they need every advantage they can get, but their strength does not come from their biceps or anything like that.

Guys like Eddie Hall get their strength from their core, and it comes from years of training. Everything else, such as their muscles and their mass, is there to assist them.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Build Muscle?

We got pretty in-depth there when discussing how BJJ builds your strength but does it build muscle? Well, no, unfortunately not. If you want to build muscle while doing BJJ, you will need to find a way to lift weights at home, in the dojo, or maybe even the gym.

Even though BJJ does not build muscle, it will help you tone and define whatever muscle you have. So, if you do go to the gym and lift weights, you could use BJJ as the much-needed cardio that will benefit you.

If you are wondering whether or not building muscle at the gym will help you in BJJ, you might be disappointed with the answer. Look, it all depends on you. If you are busy building muscle, it’s not going to hold you back. Instead, it could benefit you, but you still need to work on your technique, core strength, and cardio.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Increase Testosterone?

If you are worried that your testosterone is low, don’t take it lightly and do not be embarrassed. It can be quite serious, and you should see your doctor as they will be able to tell you what your best course of action is. With that being said, does jujitsu increase your testosterone?

Sitting around doing nothing has been proven to lower a male’s testosterone. Almost any fitness activity that you do has also been proven to increase your testosterone levels, but only to some extent. For some, it could be less than four others.

Jiu-jitsu is a combat sport, and combat sports are one of the best ways for you to increase your testosterone levels. However, as we mentioned, please consult with your doctor if you have any questions related to testosterone.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Stunt Growth?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu will not stunt your growth. If you are young enough so that your bone plates have not fused, then you can maximize your height gain by being active, constantly doing your daily stretches, and making sure that you eat correctly.

Unfortunately, height is a genetic trait, and it is extremely rare for any physical activity to stunt your growth unless you damage your plates before they fuse. Once they have fused, which happens at around 16 or 18, that is it. You cannot naturally grow shorter or taller until you reach a certain age, such as 40 or 50, where you might seem shorter because you start to slouch.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Improve Cardio?

I like to think of jiu-jitsu as a sport that ticks a few boxes at the same time. Not only are you building your core strength and staying active, but you are also doing constant cardio. Just two jiu-jitsu lessons per week will help you significantly improve your overall fitness, starting with your cardio.

If you can try and include at least one sparring session per week, the improvements you will see in your fitness and cardio will be significant. You get double the benefits from sparring.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Build Confidence?

Confidence is one of the best personality traits that a person can have. The best thing about it is that you can learn to have it if you don’t naturally have confidence. Confidence and fitness work together. It is hard to explain, but if you are confident, you will have better training sessions, while having good training sessions will boost your confidence.

BJJ can significantly improve your confidence. During training, you will learn a few personality traits such as discipline, routines, control, and even confidence. However, the training itself teaches you how to defend yourself, which can do wonders for your confidence.

Then we need to consider that BJJ helps you stay fit, which gives you a better body image. Again, this boosts your confidence in ways that not much else can.

Does BJJ Help with Hand and Eye Coordination

Good old hand and eye coordination. It is something that starts to play on the minds of people when they enter their 30s. It is said that our reflexes and hand-eye coordination start to diminish after a certain age. However, it does not have to be that way.

BJJ can improve your hand and eye coordination. The martial art can be considered aerobic in some sense. Aerobics increases the amount of oxygen your brain receives, and thus, your hand and eye coordination should improve.

However, if you plan to use BJJ in a competitive environment, you will need to find other ways to improve your reflexes and coordination. Here are a few simple ways that you can improve your hand-eye coordination.

How to Improve Your Reflexes, Hand and Eye Coordination:

ActivityTimeDays Per Week
Catch10 minutesThree
Tai Chi1 HourTwo
Juggle10 minutesThree
Play Video Games1 hourTwo

So, there are a few things that we didn’t mention in the table. For example, you could get a partner to hold something above your head. Make sure you look them straight in the chest so that you can’t see what they are holding. Get them to drop it according to their own timing and see how many of them you can catch before they hit the floor. Professional athletes use this technique.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Make You More Flexible?

When you start your BJJ lessons, you will often stretch before and after. Now, as you progress in your jiu-jitsu journey, you need to become more flexible. Luckily, all the stretching that you do before and after your sessions will make you more flexible. So, yes, jiu-jitsu makes you more flexible.

Is BJJ Bad for your Joints?

For many years, people who have done Brazilian jiu-jitsu can experience a few minor problems in their joints, particularly in the knees, elbows, and fingers. However, we need to understand that it is a tricky question because what can we compare it to or what are we trying to compare it with?

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you spent a lot of time on the mat. Specifically, you will spend a lot of time on your elbows, knees, and hands. You also need to compete with takedowns, where you often land on your knees or elbows. So, in a sense, BJJ is not good for your joints, but if you are not a professional, then you are safe.

Questions like these have to be asked. I understand that, but because BJJ is relatively safe compared to most other activities or hobbies available, you might have a hard time finding a different spot where you are completely safe.

So, if you’re worried about injuries, let me assure you that you should be fine with BJJ. The last thing you want to do is stop yourself from doing anything because there is a small chance of getting hurt.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Cause Arthritis?

Unfortunately, there are not enough studies for us to give you a definite answer to this question. It has to be said that if you are ever worried about arthritis you should consult a doctor.

It is important to note that you should not take anyone’s advice except for your doctor because there have been very few studies on the relation between jiu-jitsu and arthritis. However, in my years of experience, I have not seen anyone develop arthritis due to jiu-jitsu.

How Frequent are Injuries in BJJ?

There are three sides to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Perhaps it is better to say that three types of people do the sport, and we need to understand all three of them. See, the answer can differ according to how you use the sport. So, I want to answer it for all three sides of BJJ.

  • Casual/Hobbyist: Not frequent at all. You may get a slight bruise.
  • Bodyguards, bouncers, military: Not frequent.
  • Competitive BJJ: Most frequent.

BJJ is a self-defense martial arts. So, if you are worried that it will hurt your body, you shouldn’t think like that. Look, unless you are going to do competitive BJJ, you shouldn’t expect to sustain too many injuries, and that even goes for people who use it for their profession, such as bodyguards. Learning BJJ will not hurt them, and as a bonus, it will help them prevent themselves from getting hurt when someone else attacks them while doing their jobs.

What are the Most Common BJJ Injuries?

Building on our last section, you might wonder what type of injuries are most common in BJJ, even if they are not very frequent. Well, we have written an extensive article about how safe BJJ is, and here are a few stats that you can find in that article.

  • 78% of all injuries were orthopedic: Elbow sprains were the most common. The result is due to a move called the “Arm Bar.”
  • There was one neck injury, a cervical strain resulting from a move called the “Triangle choke.”
  • Rib fractures accounted for 15.2% of all injuries.
  • Lacerations only accounted for 6.5% of all injuries.

Let’s take a look at the first stat, where the armbar is responsible for 78% of the injuries sustained in BJJ. Remember, that is a competitive statistic and does not apply to BJJ training. Why is that important to note?

Well, as a BJJ hobbyist or casual trainee, you will learn how to do the armbar, and you will have a performed against you, but only to a minor extent. Nobody will try and pull an armbar move on you to the point where you get injured. Instead, it’s all about learning the technique.

Final Thoughts

If I could give you a final piece of advice, it would be to go for it. Look, if you made it to the end of this article, it means that you are seriously considering BJJ, and if you’re that far in your thought process, then there is no reason why you should not go for it. Trust me; it will improve your mental state and physical fitness. So, I see only benefits in the sport of BJJ.

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