Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu developed from the work of two brothers named Carlos and Helio Gracie who learned the techniques from a Japanese man named Mitsuyo Maeda who migrated to Brazil around 1917.
Jiu-jitsu is not what it appears.
When people learn that I study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a common response I get is, “Oh you do MMA.” They think of me as a fighter in a cage or ring. This is a narrow perception of the art and only a fraction of what jiu-jitsu actually is.
Jiu-jitsu is a way of life. As I have learned from my own professor, Rodrigo Pinheiro, jiu-jitsu encompasses a disciplined life, sacrifice (selfless), honor, loyalty, humility, and standing up for what is right for yourself and others. Jiu-jitsu is saying no to bad habits and adopting healthy habits. Jiu-jitsu is being a present, fully-engaged parent, spouse/partner, worker and citizen. Jiu-jitsu is personal development.
There are many challenges that jiu-jitsu will pose on an individual. Much like life there exists within jiu-jitsu opposing forces such as an opposing will, making mistakes, pressure, getting stuck, problem solving, deception, winning or losing. It is both difficult and transformative. It is not just a way of life, it is a way of saving a life.
Consider this: addiction is devasting, and trauma coupled with addiction destroys. Warriors Heart believes in the integrative and holistic approach to the human being and how to heal. Jiu-jitsu teaches our clients to face fear (neuro-extinction) which is an important component in recovering from PTSD. It allows strengthening of the hippocampus, that part of the brain in which, it is thought, our memories are developed, stored, and retrieved. This strengthening, by the generation of new hippocampi through simultaneous exercising and problem solving, may alter the very memories that plague the PTSD sufferer.
Neuroscientists refer to this neuronal adaptivity as neuroplasticity: brain flexibility. PTSD keeps one bogged down in a miserable, frightening past. Those who do jiu-jitsu at Warriors Heart are engaged in the mission of getting our warriors unstuck, helping them to grow and become something stronger.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu provides this support and offers the development of these skills. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone, but not everyone is for jiu-jitsu.
I believe there exist a few who cannot train due to severe limitations, but most can. I have seen amputees, wheelchair-bound, young and old, big and small on the mat. Not everyone can face their fears in this kind of arena, but those who do experience an empowerment that otherwise are nearly impossible to find. The benefits accrue when the individual accepts vulnerability in order to increase durability.
Jiu-jitsu is one of the powerful approaches to healing at Warriors Heart. It has been my own path, one that has been rewarding and transforming.
Tim Pharo, LPC