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Why BJJ? - It's the Ultimate in Stress Relief

(Published May 2, 2022)

During my last tour in the Navy, I worked for two great bosses in a row. That almost never happens.

They both trusted my judgment and empowered me to make decisions on their behalf all the time. I was truly blessed to have been able to work for them. 

We had good days and bad days. At the end of the really bad ones they would vent, and I would listen. Okay, sometimes I'd vent too.

One day in particular, when my boss was done ranting about the not so nice and/or not so smart people that had been making our lives miserable that particular day he said, “Mike you should be a doctor.”

“Why’s that Sir?”

“Because you’ve got a lot of patience. Ha!”

“Good one Sir.”

“Seriously, I don’t know how you do it. I want to strangle someone right now!” 

Then he looked at me, knowing full well that I was going to Jiu-Jitsu class that night, and said, “You’re going to actually strangle someone tonight aren’t you?”

This conversation or something similar happened on multiple occasions. It actually became somewhat of a ritual. And each time he asked me that question, “You’re going to actually strangle someone tonight aren’t you?” I would simply smile and nod.

"Strangle somebody for me too."

"Aye-aye Sir."

Over the past 20+ years, after my most stressful days at work, I’ve always been able to step on the mats for a hard rolling session. And when I do it’s as if the stress just drips off of my body along with the sweat.

All forms of exercise offer some amount of stress relief. Stress is all part of your body‘s fight or flight response. When you feel stressed it’s actually your body gearing up to either fight off the danger or run away from it. It does that by giving you a whole bunch of extra energy to use specifically for that purpose. Fight or flee. All you've got to do is one of those two things. You'll dissipate all that energy and sleep like a baby.

The problem is in our modern, civilized society, we’re often trapped by our jobs or by social norms, and we can’t just fight or run whenever we feel like it.

We experience that stress and that adrenaline response, but we can’t allow ourselves an outlet right then and there, and that results in all kinds of problems,

Some take it out on their friends and loved ones by lashing out and saying things that they later regret. Some turn to substance abuse. Some just bottle it up and actually make themselves physically ill in the long run. Suffice to say, you need a better outlet.

I would offer that while yoga, tai chi and meditation are OK, nothing satisfies your body‘s fight or flight urge quite as well as fighting or running. 

Now that I’m pushing 50, I can’t run like I used to. Heck, who am I kidding? I’ll run to the bathroom and that’s about it for me at this point. My knees just don’t put up with it anymore, and they are sure to let me know when I’ve overstepped my bounds. 

But because Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes control and efficiency to such a great extent, I’m still able to mix it up with the young bucks, and give my body an outlet for that fight or flight response. 

If you’ve ever had one of those days where you just wanted to strangle someone, Jiu-Jitsu lets you literally do just that! And the best part is the guy you strangle will most likely smile and compliment you for it! 

“Dude, that was a sweet choke!”

“Thanks! Wanna go again?”

“Heck yeah! Let’s do it!”

This kind of thing is so effective at managing stress that I’ve known guys in all sorts of high stress professions over the years who credit BJJ as the sole reason they’re able to maintain their sanity. I’ve known military vets with PTSD that say Jiu-Jitsu is their therapy. 

It’s not unusual for someone to describe Jiu-Jitsu class as a place where they can unleash the beast, or let their demons out. And the look of peace and serenity on their faces at the end of a hard rolling session rivals that of any Buddhist monk in my opinion.

So unless you want to pack up your things and join a monastery, the safest and most effective way to find an outlet for this fight or flight response and relieve stress in my experience is Jiu-Jitsu. 

If you happen to know somebody who’s been having a rough time lately and looks like they just want to strangle someone, see if you can get them to try a Jiu-Jitsu class. 

Help them experience the kind of stress relief and inner peace that only comes from a group of like-minded individuals trying to rip each other‘s arms off and strangle each other unconscious in the safest manner possible.

I guarantee they'll be glad they did!


- Mike


P.S. Tim and Petey, if you're reading this I just wanted to say thanks again for allowing me to vent all those times. And yes, I will strangle somebody tonight for you too!


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