Why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Is Perfect for Military Veterans
Veterans of war have never had it easy when it comes to reacclimating to civilian life. There are many organizations and services that exist to assist them with this, but martial arts are rarely mentioned in that conversation. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, in particular, seems to have numerous benefits for our returning heroes.
The transition from the arena of combat to the civilian community is a difficult one. All too often, trauma follows veterans’ home, requiring intensive treatment. Relationships must be revisited, or reforged, which can be tough and strange, even. Finding work, especially a job with the same sense of purpose experienced in the military, is a challenge.
Any combination of these obstacles has been known to lead to substance abuse, homelessness, psychological hardship, and even suicide. When compared to the roles veterans leave behind, the roles they are expected to play as civilians can get confusing, real fast. Fortunately, facing overwhelming odds, and forming strategies for overcoming them is what Brazilian jiu-jitsu is all about.
The relationships formed on the mat are quite reminiscent of the camaraderie built in the service. Confidence lost or shaken during reassimilation can be regained through training. Navigating daily stressors no longer seems to be an insurmountable task.
Getting started does not even have to be that dramatic. You may know a veteran who simply wishes to get back in shape. Most are somewhat familiar with martial arts due to their own combat training. Many wish to continue to honor their code, and BJJ training seems to be an ideal way to do so. Best of all, BJJ shows them a way to focus their energy, and remain relaxed, while still engaging in some form of combat.
If you think about it, BJJ is a surrogate lifestyle. Civilian life not cutting it? BJJ can be a proxy, a stand-in, until you get settled. Miss travel? Learning new customs? There are BJJ tournaments all over the world. Reading about BJJ’s rich history should keep you immersed in culture and art.
Veterans have seen things most have not, endured more than most will ever have to: firefights, IED explosions, ambushes, etc. It is what makes relating to others so difficult. Choosing a healthy lifestyle, one that fosters a balance of mind, body, and spirit, is crucial. Seeking socialization rather than isolation is also important. One would hope that with the billions spent on trauma treatments and medication, while veterans ages 18 to 34 experiencing a higher rate of suicide than all other age brackets, organizations like the VA would be willing to try something new, effective, and affordable: Brazilian jiu-jitsu.