Is physical fitness a prerequisite to Jiu Jitsu?
The answer is no. There are a couple of key reasons for my answer in which we will explore.
First the muscle groups worked in Jiu Jitsu are unique. There may be some sports that work comparable muscle groups but there will not be a 1 to 1 match. Just as the best way to develop endurance with running is running, the same applies for Jiu Jitsu. When I started Jiu Jitsu, I was running 25 miles a week. I was boxing 5 times a week. However, I still was exhausted at the end of the 5 minute roll. Being in shape may help with the warm ups. But it may not depending on the types of warm ups done. The only way to get in shape for Jiu Jitsu is Jiu Jitsu.
The second point to consider is will getting in shape impact the reason why we train? Most of us have a reason why we train. Often times there are multiple reasons. Maybe you need a tool to deal with your anger or perhaps you enjoy the intellectual challenge. Maybe developing solid self-defense skills is of paramount importance. Whatever the reason, don’t delay. Hitting a bench mark of physical fitness has no impact on the reason that you train. It is equally important for a physically fit person to know self-dense and for someone who is not physically fit. It is equally important for an out of shape person to manage their anger as someone who is in shape. Go train.
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A third concern for getting in shape is in comparison to other novices. Some would worry that if I am not in pique physical strength I will be at a disadvantage to the other white belts. Who cares? Unless you are at a tournament, you are only in competition against yourself. You should measure your progress against who you were yesterday. That is it. I’ll take it a step further. Even if it is the right course of action to measure your performance by comparison to someone else consider this. Person A starts training now. Person B waits a year to start training so he can be in better shape. At the end of two years person A has two years of experience and person B has one. Waiting till you are in shape still puts you at a disadvantage to everyone else. Logically, it does not make sense.
At the end of the day, saying that you won’t train Jiu Jitsu till you get in shape is an excuse to not train. There are a million reasons not to train. Jiu Jitsu is hard. It is endless. It is unforgiving of mistakes. Yet at the end of the day, it is worth it. Stop making excuses and go train.
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