Combating Depression with BJJ

Combating Depression with BJJ

I’m Johnny, the owner here at Rogue Combat Club. Let me tell you a quick story that I haven’t shared with many people.


I have had, and continue to deal with depression and anxiety.  My depressive episodes don’t usually manifest as sadness. I often become irritable with the ones I love, angry at everything, feel lost without direction and feel like I am spinning in a vortex being pulled 1000 directions at once. Sound familiar?  If so, please keep reading. 

We live in a high speed digital world with little to no requirement for physical exertion or real social interactions. We can have groceries delivered to our house, everything we need delivered, and the vast majority of the “social interactions” we have are on our phones. I bet that you’re probably reading this right now in a room with at least one other person in it on their phone too right? 


Depression, anxiety, thoughts of worthlessness and even suicide are things we see all too often in our modern society. You’re not alone. Many people, including myself, have had these thoughts. Even the biggest, strongest, most well put together looking person in the room is susceptible to these invisible monsters. It wasn’t all that long ago I was sitting fighting that very battle. 


I was lost. Everything appeared to the outside world to be perfect. Gym was going well, great relationships with family and friends, healthy, everything you could ask for, but something was off. As a result, I had been missing training sessions, skipping workouts and sort of putting myself in an isolated bubble. 

One morning, I walked into open mat with every intention of training. Dressed out, sitting on the mats, and still zero desire to train. One of the members asked me to roll and I reluctantly said yes. 


Slap. Bump. Go.


We rolled. And we rolled. And we rolled. And about 45 minutes later, I was exhausted, covered in sweat, and for the first time in a while, at peace. All of the doubts were gone. I felt like I was high on some magical drug.


What happened?


Hard work, sweat and strife is magical. We often run from these things, and more times than not, they are exactly what we need. When you look at training, and for me it’s more specifically BJJ, there is a lot going on inside your body. The physical activity releases endorphins. There are countless studies showing the benefits of exercise for helping with depression.  The nature of BJJ takes you out of control of the situation and mimics fight or flight response releasing endorphins which reduce the feeling of pain, and give you a euphoric feeling. 


Training makes me take my focus, and energy off of the negative things. I have to be mindful of my position, what my training partner is doing, and it takes all of my focus on what I am doing in that very moment, instead of the invisible monsters. 

For me, the biggest benefits of training BJJ isn’t the workouts, although they are a huge factor, it is the community. You are surrounded by positive, like minded people looking to improve their lives through combat sports. While they may be going through something similar, it’s hard to isolate yourself in a gym full of people, sweating and smiling. 


The benefits of BJJ for stress and anxiety are only just now being explored by science, but as someone who has been down that road, it is one of the most effective methods I have ever seen. I have countless handwritten notes, messages, and conversations from people who have told me they wouldn’t be alive if it weren't for training. BJJ won’t cure your depression, but it can make it much more manageable, and eventually, can make it an afterthought. 

If you are interested in training, please find a gym somewhere with a strong community and positive environment. If there is something pressing immediately please reach out to someone for help. You’re not alone, and the world is a better place with you in it. If you need anything reach out to the gym. We want to see you on the mats. If you’re not local, we will help you find a gym near you.

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