allow me to preface today’s update by saying that i am myself a grappler at a semi-competitive level (albeit at the end of a long hiatus which prompted this entire blog). i’ve won and lost, but mostly my time in brazilian jiu jitsu was a time when ‘fun’ and ‘exercise’ were synonyms in my life. so get past your opinion of rolling around with sweaty, muscular men, and approach the topic with as open a mind you would any exercise advice.
“studies” have shown (i put “studies” in quotes there because fuck you do your own research – or is your google broken?) that societies have been engaging in sport combatives since before history was a thing. not only that, but animals do it all the time, in play or in anger.
not only does grappling develop your prowess in graps specifically, but it also betters your conditioning for the functional use of one’s muscles in general. think about it: if you want to be able to lift a car, you practice lifting heavy things. if you want to be able to fend off attackers, you flex your choke arm.
beyond self defense specifically, the act of grappling for sport uses your muscles in a functional, dynamic way. in order to grapple and be successful, you need to master key body movements which require your body to use muscles you forgot you had. additionally, grappling of all sorts (jiu jitsu, judo, greco roman wrestling, etc.) claim their spot as ‘the only sport which is both aerobic and anaerobic’. while this may not be necessarily true, you will definitely notice yourself becoming stronger in body, heart, and lungs if you grapple regularly.
if you’ve never grappled before, then you should think of attending a free class at an area school. some schools even offer three or four free days – it varies from school to school. be sure to live grapple at the end of one of these sessions, as light or as hard as you feel comfortable. but do yourself a favor and pick a higher-ranked partner – they are less likely to break your arm than a spazzing white belt.
even if you decide the pursuit of a gym membership isn’t for you, you need not drop grappling from your fitness plan altogether. remember wrestling with your brothers, sisters, or friends growing up? why does that have to stop being fun. if you have a work out buddy, suggest a wrestling match. you don’t even have to try (and probably shouldn’t) for potentially dangerous submission holds or joint locks – just try to pin the other guy to the ground. continue this for rounds – five two minute rounds with a minute’s rest is a good start. go light, don’t try to hurt each other, and pick up the intensity as you learn to not feel completely clumsy.
i assure you, you will feel like you’d never worked out before after a long sparring session, but you’ll have never thought about it during the work out. grappling is fun. you make friends. the group mentality of the school drives you to not let your teammates down or look like a sissy who skips classes. as you progress and gain recognition from your master, trainer, coach (or whatever you call him), you will feel like you’ve really achieved something.
if you think you look silly, that’s fine. but these guys could have kicked your ass.