Does BJJ Make You Tough?

Who doesn’t want to be tougher. If you have seen people training BJJ you will know they are flying all over the room throwing each other and trying to tear each other’s arms and legs off. I bet you are thinking surely this activity will make me tough. Wait a second…In this article we will look if BJJ can turn you into a bad ass or not?

Does BJJ Make You Tough? Yes, BJJ will make you tough. BJJ will toughen your body. At first after training BJJ your muscles will ache and you will receive bruises and scrapes. After training BJJ for a few months your body will adapt you will no longer get sore, mat burn won’t occur and those mystery bruises will go away.

Why Is BJJ So Tough?

Here are the key reasons BJJ is so tough:

  • Physical contact – Most people are not used to wrestling with each other and trying to choke each other unconscious, this may seem pretty normal if you come from a contact sport background such as wrestling, football or rugby but for most people this is a shock to the system and takes getting used to
  • Physically demanding – BJJ will cause your muscles to ache and your lungs to burn, many people workout and think they are in great shape only to come to a BJJ class and throw up, BJJ will push you physically probably more than you ever been pushed if you have not been a serious athlete prior to training
  • Simulates fighting – BJJ is a tamed version of fighting, there are no strikes and you aren’t trying to damage your opponent, however, there is still a fighting atmosphere when you spar hard in BJJ and you are trying to rip each other’s arms off, this atmosphere can freak a lot people out, BJJ is not as intense as MMA or boxing but there is still an element of combat in sport BJJ
  • It takes a long time to get good – People will often try a new hobby out for a few months, maybe a year or two, unfortunately if you do this with BJJ you will never get good, if you want to become skilled at BJJ you need to dedicate 7 plus years to get your black belt, many people do not like BJJ enough to dedicate that much of their life to a hobby, only people who truly love the sport tend to stick around for a long time
  • Injuries – Even though BJJ is a pretty safe sport, particularly for a full contact martial art injuries do occur, sometimes these injuries are serious, after you suffer a serious injury it can really test your love of the sport, many people need their bodies injury free to earn a living making BJJ not worth the risk

Will BJJ Make Me Psychically Tough?

BJJ will cause your body to adapt to the specific rigors of BJJ and some of this adaption will carry over into everyday life that will increase your physical toughness.

What Increase In Physical Toughness Will BJJ Cause?

  • Less muscle soreness after working out – If you can handle training BJJ a couple of times a week your regular workouts are going to be a breeze and you will not feel the same amount of soreness
  • Skin will become stronger – Many people have sensitive skin, they are not use to having people grab, hit, bump and rub against them, many people when they start training BJJ will come home riddled in bruises and develop scrapes known as mat burn, don’t worry your skin will adapt and you will not get those bruises and scrapes in the future
  • Increase in physical strength – Grabbing hold of people all day as they thrash around and try to escape has a funny way of making you strong, BJJ athletes will often have strong arms, necks, backs and legs from hours of sparring, this physical strength can help you from lifting a heavy box, carry the shopping or opening frustratingly tight jars, you will look pretty cool if every one in your house struggles to prize open a pesky jar and you swoop in and effortlessly open it on your first try
  • Increase in cardio – BJJ will increase your cardio, sparring in BJJ is some of the best cardio you can get, you absolutely will be pushing well in to your training zone (80% of max heart rate) every time you spar, BJJ will help you go harder in your workouts and for longer, If you ever need to get somewhere in a hurry maybe you have to run to make a train or bus, BJJ will give you iron lungs ensuring you get where you need to go
  • Ability to defend yourself in physical altercation – A lot people measure someone’s physical toughness by their fighting prowess, BJJ will definitely help you in that department, BJJ was designed for street fights and over the years has been proven as a very effective way to quickly end a street fight with both combatants coming away unscathed, BJJ will teach you how to quickly choke or arm lock an attacker before they even known what is happening let alone have time to defend the submission

Will BJJ Make Me Mentally Tough?

BJJ can definitely increase your mental toughness. However, mental toughness is not as simple as physical toughness and many times mental toughness is domain dependent, meaning a guy can be an absolute champion on the BJJ mats but be mentally weak in other areas of his life.

For the old school fans out there they will remember the scariest man on the planet Mark Kerr being bullied and intimidated by his girlfriend who was half his size and certainly no fighter. The tumultuous relationship Kerr had with his girlfriend was captured in the documentary “The Smashing Machine”, definitely worth checking out if you want to see how far the sport of BJJ and MMA has come. It follows the life of former NCAA champion wrestler Mark Kerr as he tries to navigate the early MMA world.

What Increase In Mental Toughness Will BJJ Cause?

  • Ability to stick with something – If you want to get good at BJJ you will have to train consistently (3 times a week at least) for many years (at least 7 years to get a black belt) if you want to get good, if you can stick with BJJ you can stick with other things in life that will have a beneficial impact on your well being
  • Confidence that you can excel at something – Many people have a negative attitude about themselves, they do not believe they can ever get good at something, by excelling at BJJ you can prove to yourself you can learn things and develop skills, you can take this confidence into other endeavors such as running a business or raising a family

How Long Until I See The Benefits Of BJJ?

Everybody is looking for the quick fix. You hop on Instagram or Facebook and all you see is people posting highlights from their lives. It can be easy to want what others have immediately. Unfortunately, you aren’t seeing all the years it took these people to achieve success. It will take many years until you become good at BJJ, you are looking at 7 years to get your black belt. Luckily, you will see other benefits much more quickly than 7 years.

Here Is How Long It Takes To See Benefits From BJJ

  • 6 Months –  After 6 months of training BJJ you should be in improved physical shape, you will see an increase strength, cardio, muscle mass and a decrease in body fat, you will have learned a good amount of technique and be able to tap most new comers with relative ease, you should be able to handle yourself in a fight with an untrained person of similar size
  • 12 Months – After 12 months of training BJJ friends who haven’t seen you in a while will make comments about how strong and lean you are looking, you will be close to your blue belt and will be on the cusp of becoming an intermediate practitioner, you should be able to defeat a larger untrained opponent in a self defense situation
  • 3 Years – You look like a serious athlete, people will ask what sport you play and how much you can bench, you are close if not already a purple belt, you should have no problem besting even a trained athlete in a street fight


BJJ can definitely make you tough. By training the sport you will increase your strength, your cardio and be able to better defend yourself in a street fight. You will also see some mental benefits from training BJJ, notably it will teach you the power of hard work and consistency which you can take into other areas of your life.


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