The Mind Body Connection

Mind, Body, and Soul. Terms with which most of us are familiar in figurative and literal sense. But few take the time to really examine what these terms mean in a scientific sense.

In martial arts , we say our way of training conditions the mind , body and soul. Scientifically , jiu-jitsu promotes neuromuscular training, developing both our nervous and muscular systems simultaneously. To understand how it pertains to martial arts we have to understand how it relates to our body. Neuromuscular training creates a stimulus in our body that connects the efficiency of our nervous system with the movement of our body. We benefit from this type of training with increased strength, stability, biomechanics and injury prevention. Cosmetically, this has been also given more attention to the increased benefits of lean muscle mass and fat loss. But how is this all related to Jiu-Jitsu?

The connection between our nervous system and skeletal muscle starts with intramuscular coordination. The magic that happens within your muscle fibers is dependent on muscle synchronization and the recruitment of neuromuscular motor units. When your muscles start to work against a resistance they recruit more motor units to overcome the resistance. Strength training has been a key component to increasing the strength of the muscular contraction because of the increased firing rate at which your muscles are working at under resistance. This in turn produces a greater recruitment of neuromuscular units that enable you to apply greater force. The synchronization of these major units provides a greater ability to activate muscle fibers and recruit motor units simultaneously , allowing pairs of motor units with similar thresholds to interchange when one is exhausted by letting the other continue the muscle contraction. These actions happening in your body are what produces some of the health benefits mentioned earlier. Many discuss the vendors of neuromuscular training related to weight, plyometric, and resistance training but few talk about it while wearing a Gi.

To further explore how these functions happen within our body we have to look deeper into our nervous system. This complex system is compromised into multiple units. Each responding to stimulus differently , which requires each system to be conditioned and trained by the appropriate action. Neuromuscular activity is incorporated into the motor end units that are our movement drives while out proprioceptive system senses the changes in our body. Strength training again has been a major player in developing motor end units but cannot be relied on without the implementation of plyometric , balance and stabilization training to complement our proprioceptive system. Combining both methods of training is a key component to linking our sensing system to our motor end units, resulting in more explosive power and force.

Now that we are all caught up on the science behind neuromuscular training we can start to see the affects of living in today’s world has on our training. We can see it in our local gyms , on television and across social media. People today are training differently. One of the major reasons is having access to a plethora of information at our fingertips. The advancements we have made in the fitness world can be attributed to the amount of information to which we have access to. This enables us both to spread the knowledge as well as implement improved programming more efficiently than ever. So in turn , we are training smarter than ever. Workouts and training regiments to which at one time only elite level athletes had access to are now readily available to the average gym goers. Many of us pack ourselves into the nearest gym trying to reap the benefits from this increase of physiological knowledge dispersed into the mainstream. But little did we know , all the benefits for which we search for come in the form of an art. A martial art to be exact.

Jiu-Jitsu is unparalleled to any other martial art by the physical demands that required by your body. The strength aspect of jiu-jitsu can be compared to strength training by the handling of an external object. Unlike
conventional training, instead of pressing, squatting and pushing a barbell, you are performing these movements with another person. Most likely with somebody similar in body weight , but enough with someone heavier. Even at times with someone twice your weight. These movements are executed under unstable conditions , requiring balance , core strength and stabilization. In between leveraging the person to position yourself in a more dominant angle , there are plenty of plyometric sequences that are composed to engage and disengage the person with whom you are rolling with. These sequences combined with pushing , pulling and constant contraction revolved around submissions put together a perfect recipe for neuromuscular training. But why jiujitsu to gain the benefits of neuromuscular training when you can gain the same results by pushing a barbell overhead and jumping onto a box? Jiu Jitsu offers you many great benefits but one of the most acclaimed is the ability to think critically under stress. The equivalent of completing an algebraic equation while performing push-ups and barbell squats. Jiu Jitsu is taught through a step by step technical based process. So size and strength become irrelevant by the leverage blueprinted to nullify those features. Although the demands of jiujitsu are physical , they are conducted in a learning environment. Connecting the mind and body. One cannot achieve success in jiu jitsu without the knowledge of each position and the critical analysis of the change in each position. Not to mention the self defense aspect originating from its earliest roots. Jiu-Jitsu offers you much more than neuromuscular training. It offers you self confidence, humility, problem solving skills and friendships that will last a lifetime. The training may end with the result of reaping the benefits of neuromuscular training by finding yourself with an increase of strength, better posture, flexibility and a tremendous amount of fat loss. But it starts in the brain. From the first time you step on the mats your mind will be stimulated by instruction that will be tested and evaluated day in and day out. Conditioning the mind, body and soul. In every sense of the terms. Mentally, physically, spiritually, and scientifically.

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