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Here’s How BJJ Strengthens Both Your Body And Mind

Here’s How BJJ Strengthens Both Your Body And Mind

Original Article: Evolve Daily

Martial arts is both physical and mental. In fact, there is almost an equal importance between the two when training to become a martial artist. The way the body moves fluidly to execute techniques, it requires great coordination and presence. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in particular, serves as a prime example of this concept.

Referred to by many as ‘the gentle art’, BJJ focuses on grappling and ground techniques. It basically promotes the concept that anyone of any size can defend themselves against bigger, heavier opponents by utilizing sound technique and leverage.

It is a martial art that requires not only a lot of physical strength but also the mental capacity to make quick decisions in given situations. Because it requires a lot of intelligence to practice, some say BJJ is the closest martial arts gets to chess.

BJJ is such a great physical and mental workout. Practicing the discipline every day will quickly enhance both areas. For those looking to train both the mind and the body, BJJ is a great system to practice.

There are loads of benefits that you can pick up from training in BJJ. Today, Evolve Daily shares four ways Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is good for the mind and body.

1. It Fortifies the Mind

BJJ is about performing techniques intelligently and strategically, adapting to situations and making transitions depending on how opponents respond. It’s comparison to chess in this regard is truly warranted. Sometimes opponents are able to swing the advantage in their favor, so your next move needs to be executed with intelligence.

You might initiate the grappling exchange by attempting a sweep and transitioning into a leg switch, but if your opponent anticipates it and instead puts you on defense, you’re going to have to adjust and change strategy. BJJ forces you to think several moves ahead, but also challenges you to keep your strategy flexible because anything can happen.

This constant strategizing and plotting exercises the mind immensely. By engaging the mind to deal quickly with the fast-changing tide and momentum of scrambles, it trains our mental strength. With a mind that grows stronger every day, techniques become easier to execute and we are soon able to be more creative with how we use them.

2. It Strengthens the Body

While training and sharpening the mind is one of the most important aspects of BJJ, there is no doubt about the fact that you must also strengthen and train the body. It may not appear so on the surface, but BJJ is one of the most intense workouts you will ever experience.

A prevalent theme in BJJ is that the smaller and weaker man will gain the ability to overpower a larger opponent by executing proper techniques and using leverage. Performing sweeps and locks utilize leverage and technique to overpower larger foes. In this case, it is usually the quicker thinker that gains the advantage.

However, when two practitioners are equally intelligent, then it will come down to who is stronger. The bottom line is that strength isn’t the most important thing in BJJ, but when it comes down to it, sometimes strength will come in handy. Which is why physical development and strength training are both crucial when it comes to practicing BJJ.

3. Improves Flexibility

One of the most significant ways BJJ affects the physicality of a practitioner is that it improves flexibility. Flexibility, of course, is an important trait in martial arts, especially in grappling where one must be limber for the body to adapt to any situation.

Although matches begin standing up, BJJ always ends up on the mat the majority of the time. While all martial arts require practitioners to be flexible, your success in BJJ is dependent on it. By performing many drills, stretches, and exercises in BJJ, you are able to train your body to become more flexible and limber.

Basically the more you are able to stretch, the more techniques and combinations you can execute.

Improving flexibility also makes you a better athlete. This will greatly impact your performance in other martial arts disciplines such as boxing or Muay Thai. Enhanced flexibility is important in any physical sport.

4. Enhances Problem-Solving Skills

Last but certainly not the least, BJJ enhances problem-solving skills.

Because BJJ puts practitioners in many situations where they have to overcome mental and physical obstacles, at times it resembles a very tricky puzzle. How to maneuver opponents and put them in certain positions so that you can take advantage of them, this is what often goes through your mind when rolling.

BJJ definitely makes people better problem solvers. This permeates in real life, as it trains us to think multiple steps ahead of situations in order to find viable solutions. Problem-solving is a major component in BJJ and training this skill surely improves the mind overall.

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5 Things We Learned From 2018 IBJJF World Master

5 Things We Learned From 2018 IBJJF World Master

Original Article: Hywel Teague/FloGrappling

The 2018 IBJJF World Master Jiu-Jitsu Championship has come and gone, and now the dust has settled it’s time to reflect on an intense four days of grappling action.

1. Masters Worlds is really, really tough

Forget the “Master” and focus on the “World” in the title. This championship is no joke. People come from all over the planet to compete at this tournament, and they take it very, very seriously. The competitors will train for months on end– even all year long– with this event in mind.

First off, the divisions are HUGE. Black belt Master 1 and Master 2 middleweight both had a massive 59 entrants. Even at Master 3 (40 years of age and above) there were four divisions with over 40 competitors. That means a lot of matches to win gold.

At the black belt Master 1 there were elite level competitors such as Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa, Osvaldo “Queixinho”, Vitor Oliveira and DJ Jackson. At Master 2, Roberto ‘Cyborg’, Gustavo Campos, Josh Hinger and more signed up, making these some of the toughest Master divisions we’ve ever seen.

2. It’s big– and it’s going to get bigger

With 21 mats running (and another 6 in a separate area for the Las Vegas Open, which runs concurrently) the World Master Jiu-Jitsu Championship is the biggest IBJJF tournament of the year. Along with the Brazilian Nationals, it’s one of the largest (if not the biggest) jiu-jitsu event in the world.

The continued success of the event, coupled with the continued international growth of jiu-jitsu, means that the IBJJF are considering scaling up for 2019. More news as to the exact plans as we learn of them.

3. Legends are surprisingly down to earth

There were so many big names at Masters Worlds it was hard to keep track. Every few steps you’d bump into a current World champion like Buchecha or Leandro Lo. Holding court at seminars and booths were great figures such as Cobrinha, Leo Vieira, Saulo Ribeiro, Kyra Gracie and many more.

The ceremony which honored every black belt absolute World champ with special rings brought together great champions past and present, such as Amaury Bitetti and Mario Sperry (who even competed in the Masters 5 division, winning gold).

One thing I noticed again and again was the presence of retired MMA fighters. There were even UFC title challengers like Travis Lutter (who fought Anderson Silva in 2007) and Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Elvis Sinosic, who fought Chuck Liddell in 2006 and Tito Ortiz in 2001 respectively.

All of the above were more than happy to stop, talk to and take photos with the fans, of which there were many!

4. There were more women registered than ever

After a few years of disappointingly low numbers, that all changed in 2018. The World Masters saw more competitors than ever, especially at black belt. There was a total of 58 women registered at black belt Master 1 and 2. Karen Antunes stole the show by winning gold just months after winning Pans and Worlds earlier this year. Don’t forget the new mother had her first baby just last year. Just incredible.

The story of Betty Broadhurst had a happy ending. A 61-year-old purple belt, she put out a national call to try and find an opponent with the likes of Gordon Ryan advocating on her behalf. Thankfully the call was answered and she managed to compete. Heartwarming.

5. The jiu-jitsu was old-school, and that’s not a bad thing

Don’t confuse “old school” for ineffective– quite the opposite, in fact. There was a distinct absence of 50-50 guard and lapel trickery. Many joke about the difference between modern jiu-jitsu and the old school, but we really did see a lot of takedowns, guard passing and submissions from every angle.

The strategies were different due to the length of the matches, which were five or six minutes long depending on the age division. People tended to come out fast and score or submit early, probably due to the awareness that it’s tough keeping up an intense pace as you get older.

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Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Original Article: The Brain Flux

Psychological health is an important part of our lives. It affects our moods, emotions, behavior, and social interactions. Not only in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. It even has consequences for our physical health. Exercise can bolster our energy, make us resilient in the face of hardship, and has many other benefits for your mental health.

Exercise Alleviates Stress

This exercise benefit isn’t going to shock anyone. It’s a well known psychological benefit. Also one of the biggest reasons why people take up exercise. The science behind it is well documented, as well as it’s calming effect on a stressed mind. But how does a physically stressful activity on the body actually end up relieving stress?

It’s a bit of a puzzle, but the long-term benefits definitely compensate for the short-term stress. For starters, it releases neurochemicals into the brain. The big ones being endorphins, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are associated with better cognitive functioning, alertness, and elevated moods. In addition to dumping feel-good chemicals into your head, it also helps purge stress hormones from your body – cortisol and adrenaline.

From a psychological perspective, exercise also gives you a way to distract yourself from focusing on daily stressors. This could be from your boss, a task at work, or any number of personal problems. When the mind has nothing else to focus on, it will drift. Many people can fixate on immediate issues, specific stressful problems, or strong emotional feelings. So exercise can simply give you an immediate task to focus your energy on.

So while this benefit of exercise won’t come as a surprise to you, it’s still one of the best, time-tested reasons to get out there and get moving. As we’ll explore in other articles, stress is one of the biggest enemies of efficient brain operation. And exercise is an efficient stress management technique.

Gives Your Emotional Resilience

Stress also affects your emotional state. Strong emotions can be an unfortunate side effect of stressful events.

One study separated participants between participants between those who exercised regularly and those who didn’t. Both groups were equal in mood before the experiment. Then they were exposed to a stressful event. They observed that the physically fit group actually had smaller declines in positive mood than their more sedentary counterparts.

It seems that people who get regular exercise are able to maintain a more positive attitude – and emotional outlook – after something stressful occurs. This gives exercisers yet another level of protection from the day to day stress that happens to all of us.

Reduces Anxiety

meta-analysis published in 1995 had researchers take a look at 40 studies to measure the effects of exercise on anxiety. In analyzing several different study types, they found that exercise had a low to moderate effect on reducing anxiety levels. They also noted that adults who led a more stressful lifestyle benefited most from the exercise. So for those that are feeling anxious from stress will benefit even more from exercise than someone who isn’t.

Increases Pain Tolerance

It has been pretty well documented that intense exercise can dull pain in the short term. Your body releases endorphins and other chemicals during and shortly after exercise that will decrease pain in the body.

But it’s more than just short term. Exercise could be the key for those of you looking to increase your mental grit. A small study published in 2014 from Australia showed that participants who completed a six week aerobic exercise program increased their tolerance for pain. It wasn’t that they felt less pain. In fact, researchers noted that participants were feeling pain at the same levels as before. The change was actually a mental one. They were able to withstand pain at higher levels after they had completed the exercise regimen.

Helps Battle Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental conditions that affects people worldwide. An estimated 350 million according to the World Health Organization. Even scarier is the fact that depression is on the rise. It is set to be the 2nd biggest medical condition by 2020.

A large meta-analysis analyzed the effect of exercise on alleviating symptoms of depression. Two things were found from the review. They found positive results from a significant and moderate relief from depression. The second result came from the comparison of exercise to other forms of psychological therapy or drugs. Exercise was found to be just as effective as the other alternatives.

Pretty important news for a nation that has a slight addiction to pills and prescriptions. People who may be looking for other, more cost-effective ways to help fight depression, regular exercise could hold promise.

Prevents Depression

Preventing depression is even more important than fighting it. I won’t use a cliche quote referencing ounces and pounds here. But let’s agree prevention is far better than curing. Research tells us exercise helps the symptoms of depression, but scientists didn’t understand how. At least until recently.

In a study published in September 2014, researchers found a mechanism that helped explain the puzzle. And not just fight it, but help prevent the symptoms of depression.

The study gets pretty technical, but here are the key points. During stressful situations, there’s a harmful substance that builds up in the blood. The blood then carries that substance to the brain. Scientists used genetically modified mice to help produce a certain protein. A protein which helps break down and remove the harmful substance in the blood.

Normal mice and the mice with the protein were then exposed to multiple stressful situations. Scientists saw the normal mice begin to express depressive behaviors, while the genetically modified mice acted normally.

So here’s where the rubber hits the road. This same protein can be produced by skeletal muscle (both in mice and humans) through physical activity. The more physical activity you do, the more protein produced. So by doing regular exercise you build up the amount of protein in your system. When stress strikes, the protein eliminates the harmful substance, and shields your brain from symptoms of depression.

Improves Your Mood

Exercise causes the release of feel good chemicals in the brain. This part you know. So I want to share some interesting information you may not be familiar with.

Researchers took a look at how people deal with their bad moods. They identified a total of 32 different methods that people reported using. They then analyzed which methods were most effective at regulating their bad moods. After all the data was analyzed, exercise emerged as the most effective method at changing a bad mood. If you’re curious, the methods coming in second and third were music and social interaction.

Exercise Might Just Make You Happier

Moods come and go. They are temporary by nature. But can exercise have an effect on happiness in the long term?

An important question, but also a difficult one. I thought there would be tons of information on the subject, but it’s surprisingly sparse. There are various definitions of happiness and different ways to measure it. And happiness can mean different things for different people. Despite these problems, there have been some initial attempts to answer the exercise happiness question.

One study looked at data from 15 European countries. They compared people’s physical activity from different categories. Higher levels of activity correlated with higher levels of happiness. Researchers noted that even though there was a link, they couldn’t determine if the physical activity was the cause of the happiness.

In a slightly more convincing study, researchers looked at levels of physical activity in residents of Canada. They first established a baseline happiness for participants. They then analyzed data for changes in activity levels and happiness in the following years.

People who were inactive through the years were twice as likely to become unhappy than those who were active. Those people who were inactive were also more likely to become unhappy than others who became active over the same years. And finally, the researchers noticed people who were active – and became inactive later – increased their odds of becoming unhappy.

Beyond the Psychological

Exercise has some incredible benefits for our mental states, but it can do more than just that. Read other mind bending benefits in this article here. Also, if you have a friend that needs a quick mental boost, be sure to share this information with them!

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The Key to BJJ Success – Showing up

The Key to BJJ Success – Showing up

Original Article: BJJ Fanatics

A few years back, I remember hearing that the BJJ documentary “Roll” had been released. I rushed home to watch it that night after training. Click to watch it.

The film is a great look at some of the history of BJJ, and how its inception in the US  took place. There’s a particular quote that has stuck with me ever since. Chris Haueter is a large contributor to this documentary, and there’s a point where he says, “it’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left.”

What does that mean? To me, it means that our presence and commitment to BJJ carries more weight than any accolades, medals, or belts we hold. The great competitors of BJJ push our sport to evolve and have become the familiar faces of BJJ, setting standards, creating new techniques, and leading the charge for the recognition it deserves. But this is not the only way to be successful and contribute to BJJ.

If you are young, strong, and athletic, those attributes will eventually dwindle. If you are a decorated competitor in the prime of your career, that too, although admirable, will not be the case forever. We cannot rest our worth on the fickle. There has to be a greater purpose.

Be a pillar at your academy. Be the face that everyone knows. There are those in my journey that have been on the mat since before I started, and still, continue to train. In the face of everything that life and BJJ have thrown at them, they continue to be a constant. I have a great deal of respect for these heroes of the mat. They have endured serious injuries, life-changing events, and tough losses They’ve grappled with the ego and have learned to tame it. There is something special about them, and there is much to be learned from these great leaders.

So how do you judge your success in BJJ?

Success in BJJ is not stopping. If you’re on the mat, you are succeeding.

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The Workout to Burn Off Belly Fat

The Workout to Burn Off Belly Fat

Original Article: Men’s Journal

“You can rip out ab exercises all day long in the gym, but without the right combination of high-intensity fat-burning cardio along with specific abdominal-strengthening exercises that build your abs rather than break the tissue down, you won