So far, we’ve covered the benefits of positive physical contact for BJJ students. We also discussed how BJJ develops mindfulness.

Today, we connect the dots between how the training experience actually makes you feel good, and how it can create powerful physical changes in your body. The intense training experience of BJJ results in a powerful release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is linked with empathy. It helps people connect with each other. It is the biological reason why students in BJJ class often form friendships quickly and easily. It helps you like people! Not only does it make you feel good, it also helps you develop your interpersonal circle.

But there are other brain chemicals released during the BJJ experience. During the (perceived) real life struggle, our bodies get flooded with norepinephrine, adrenaline, aka epinephrine, and cortisol. These powerful hormones are released as part of the fight-or-flight response. They increase reaction time, focus and awareness. However, these brain chemicals also directly spur physical adaptation. When you repeatedly put your body in a perceived life-or-death situation, where you really feel endangered, you get a flood of these chemicals. They cause your body to adapt to become more capable in those situations. For BJJ students, this typically looks like more cardio and work capacity, more flexibility, less body fat, and more strength. Testosterone is also elevated in these situations. Increased testosterone due to natural production is positive for both males and females. It’s even more important as people age. Testosterone is linked to muscle growth and retention, reproductive health, bone density, and injury recovery. For males, it’s the master hormone that regulates health. For women, it’s secondary to estrogen and progesterone, but still very important.

This brain chemical cocktail is the secret behind the popularity of intense workouts like CrossFit and bootcamps. Finally, the brain releases a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor. This chemical, often associated with “runner’s high”, yields lasting feelings of euphoria, satisfaction, and positive moods. It also helps repair neural tissue, so it can help you rebound from stress and damage.

As you can see, BJJ students are regularly dosing their brains with a serious cocktail of life-enhancing, but naturally occurring brain chemicals. These provide a wide range of benefits, with no side effects. Perhaps it’s worth adding BJJ to your life – for medical purposes!

 

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