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"One of my friends is a very successful executive at a Fortune 500 company and he said that his time training with me has had a significant impact on him as a business leader."

About the author: Sam Joseph is a 3rd degree black belt, head instructor and owner of  Buckhead Jiu Jitsu in Atlanta.

As we approach the new year, people are considering new ways to enrich their lives.  It is the time of year that friends and acquaintances reach out to me either letting me know that they are thinking about starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or asking me about the benefits of BJJ. They have seen the positive impact it has had on my life and others and are looking to find something similar for themselves. Here are some of what I consider to be the best benefits waiting for anyone starting BJJ going into 2020!

BJJ Makes Us Better At Other Things

I recently went to dinner with one of my favorite students, purple belt Kennith Jackson, and he blew me away with something he said. Kennith is a very successful executive at a Fortune 500 company and he said that his time training with me has had a significant impact on him as a business leader. The compliment itself was incredible but knowing how Kennith carries himself and the high standards he sets for himself, on and off the mat, made it even more so.  It also prompted a discussion as to how training BJJ and the process we have to go through in order to get better inherently prepares us to be better at other things in life.

Very few people are “great” at Jiu-Jitsu out of the box. Even the most adept prodigies have some sort of learning curve. For example, Roger Gracie is one of if not the greatest BJJ competitor of all-time. His performances from the mid to late 2000s in the IBJJF Worlds and ADCC where he won multiple gold medals by dominating and submitting most of his opponents are testimony to that. Add to that what happened when he came out of retirement in 2017 for the Gracie Pro event to face to face the great Marcus Bucheha. Roger beat Buchecha, who was at his peak and making his own GOAT argument, via submission shocking the BJJ world and cementing himself as the standard in our sport. That said, when asked about how he developed his world-renowned defense, Roger said he tapped a lot in the gym. Think about that for a minute…the best of all-time got there in large part because he was willing to go through the process of “losing” and “learning from those losses”. 

We all go through that same process when we begin our BJJ journeys. Most of us never attain anything close to Roger’s level of proficiency on the mat but if we learn the value of not allowing setbacks to stop us and learning from those situations, we may apply that wisdom in other areas of our lives (work, relationships, social groups, etc) and reap the rewards!

We Can Share BJJ With Loved Ones

Dirty Gi Marketing CEO and BJJ black belt, Derek Kaivani has spent 20 years on the mat. When Derek was younger, he was able to spend more time on the mat and was a much more active competitor but he enjoys BJJ now more than ever.  The main reason for that is he now regularly gets to share BJJ with his wife and two of his three awesome kids.  In a given week, Derek gets to supplement his training with at least one session with his beautiful wife Sharon and gets to teach his kids Lea  (13) and Jens (11), as he is the head coach of the Buckhead JJ Kids’ Program.

On the world-stage, a great example of this playing out is multiple time IBJJF gi/no-gi world champion, ADCC world champion Cobrinha and his relationship with his son Kennedy Maciel! You only need to spend about 2 minutes on Cobrinha’s social-media or watching him at a major tournament to see how much joy sharing BJJ with his ultra-talented son brings to him. Kennedy is already winning at the black belt level, after a very successful colored belt career, and every minute on the mat in training and competition seems to bring even more happiness to his father.

In many ways, Derek and Cobrinha have “cracked the code” in that they are using the mat to spend time with people they love!  That almost guarantees them a positive training experience, which in turn has a positive impact on their mood, well-being and other parts of life. Watching Derek closely and Cobrinha from afar have shown me how much value BJJ can bring to our lives when we share it with those close to us!

We Can Scratch The Competitive Itch

Pre-adult life, as a child and teenager, gives us a multitude of opportunities to “compete”.   Our schools and neighborhoods provide a wide-range of sports for us to participate in.  When we become adults, work and family fill-in the free-time we had in our younger days and many of us miss the competitive outlet.  As a coach, I find some version of this scenario in a good portion of people who come in to start BJJ.  They are looking for a challenging workout that will also “scratch their competitive itch” whether it be in the workout itself or via giving them the opportunity to actually compete. 

My good friend and training partner, Dr. Alex Jutis, black belt under Paul Creighton at Creighton MMA, is an awesome example of this at it’s best.  Finding BJJ in his 30’s and with a growing business and family, it was never in the cards for Alex to make BJJ “his life” even though he trained very seriously.   What Alex did do was focus on what he “could do” and what was available. Alex saw how the IBJJF had started having their Opens not only across the United States but the world in addition to their major tournaments (Worlds, Masters Worlds, Pan, etc). These Opens had masters divisions enabling people to compete against people at the same belt level and stage of life. These tournaments were also supported by rankings in each division. 

The cumulative impact of all of these things motivated Alex to train harder than he had since competing in bodybuilding in his 20’s!   He traveled the world competing at each colored belt level, winning multiple tournaments and was promoted to black belt this past year. BJJ has given Alex 7 plus years of travel, fun and personal growth via giving him an outlet to scratch his competitive itch!  The same opportunity is there for anyone taking up the sport!


To be clear, these are just some of the potential benefits taking up BJJ can bring to your life in 2020. The beauty of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the BJJ  lifestyle is that it meets you where you are and it can be whatever you allow it to be in your lives. It can impact your health, state of mind, relationships, overall well-being, etc. I hope this article has either inspired you to take the “first step” onto the mat or, if you already train, caused you to appreciate more or even discover benefits you had not previously considered! 

See you on the mat!!

November 18, 2019 — Jiu Jitsu Style