A modernized form of an ancient Japanese martial art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an ideal martial arts discipline for guys who care about fitness, form, and function. “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu extensively develops muscles in the hands and forearms, back, triceps, and, most of all, the core”—all familiar strength goals for the gym-going guy, says Chris Ulbricht, a black belt under Professor Jared Weiner and the owner and head instructor at Garden State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Red Bank, New Jersey.
And while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is definitely a formalized martial art, it certainly has practical applications in the real world. Ulbricht trains police officers and bouncers who need to learn non-dangerous control positions and submissions that they can use to stay safe.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a style that is designed to allow a smaller fighter to defend themselves against a bigger or stronger opponent using speed, leverage, and timing,” Ulbricht says.
But as with any martial art, any practitioner must learn, practice, and (only if necessary) apply Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with discipline. “By training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu you are learning techniques that can you can use to kill or permanently injure someone,” Ulbricht says. “It is for this reason that discipline must also be developed alongside just technical and physical conditioning.”
Furthermore, practitioners are always trained to only deploy their training after they’ve exhausted every other option. “Step one is to always see if you can deescalate or leave a bad situation,” Ulbricht says. “It is paramount that at gun or knife point you always just give an attacker whatever physical possessions they want. No wallet or phone is worth your life.”
Some final disclaimers: We here at Men’s Fitness absolutely endorse martial arts training for fitness, but we don’t endorse violence. Always train at a well-regarded, reputable school staffed by well-trained experts.