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Jiu-jitsu: A Cure for Depression?

Can Jiu-jitsu Cure Depression?

Before I dive into this topic let me make one thing clear: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Also, I am fully aware that some forms of depression require medical treatment and even hospitalization. I am not advocating for Jiu-jitsu as a cure for all forms of mental illness. However, in many cases, I do believe that Jiu-jitsu practice can prevent and even eliminate mild depression in many individuals. I have witnessed this countless times over the past 25 plus years as a coach and have experienced it personally. So what is it about Jiu-jitsu that is so beneficial for mental health? Let’s explore that question.

Physical Benefits of Jiu-jitsu Practice

We all know that exercise makes us feel better but it’s more that just a temporary feeling. Consistent exercise releases the “feel good” chemicals in the brain. In fact, most anti depressants work by attempting to rebalance these brain chemicals in a way that produces an improved result. Many times they work but sometimes they don’t. And sometimes there are some very unpleasant side effects. Because exercise is natural, there are no side effects other than improvement in mood and a stronger, healthier body. Jiu-jitsu is one of the most complete forms of exercise because it works all the muscles in your body, increases flexibility and agility and works your heart both aerobic and anaerobically.

Social Benefits of Jiu-jitsu

According to researchers the top predictor for happiness in human beings is not money, fame or achievement. It is the strength of our social connections. So basically, how well we are connected to friends and family determines our happiness and well being more than any other factor. Jiu-jitsu class is filled with people engaging in teamwork, problem solving, communication, helping one another, sharing knowledge and laughing together. The community aspect of Jiu-jitsu is perhaps its best feature and is the top reason why students come in day after day

Primal Benefits of Jiu-jitsu

Like it or not, human beings are descended from a long line of war-faring ancestors. Fighting is in our blood and it is a part of who we are. Of course, we know that war is hell and have evolved into societies that mostly prefer peace and cooperation. Still, the drive to fight and compete exist within our DNA. So how to we reconcile this destructive but natural tendency. My suggestion: you guessed it, JIU-JITSU! Unlike in war, Jiu-jitsu allows us to release this primitive energy without the greed and destruction of war. In fact, the opposite is true. In our attempt to submit our teammate we challenge them to grow, improve, overcome fear and doubt and become a better, stronger version of themselves. And they reciprocate this positivity back onto us. The instinctive expression of “fighting” in a safe and healthy environment is one of the best ways to positively express ourselves and feel connected to our natural state. 


The benefits of Jiu-jitsu are vast and go far beyond the scope of this short article. From increased focus, improvements in problem solving, realistic self defense, goal setting…etc. there are countless ways that Jiu-jitsu can benefit thee student and help him/her overcome depression. 

If you are interested in a 2 week free trial in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu be sure to call 281-955-7300 to schedule a free trial.