The Psychology of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, commonly called BJJ, is one of the fastest-growing martial arts in the world. First introduced to the U.S. in the 1980s through the creation of the UFC, BJJ has gathered a tremendous and dedicated following.

BJJ has become established as a very pragmatic, and highly effective discipline, and BJJ techniques are dominant in mixed martial arts.


BJJ is a sport embraced by many celebrities, from actors Ashton Kutcher, Joe Rogan and Ed O’Neill to the late chef Anthony Bourdain, playwright David Mamet, and philosopher Sam Harris, many of whom have written or spoken about the things that draw them to the sport.

As a clinical psychologist and a long-time student of BJJ, it is the psychology of this sport which I find most intriguing. Why is BJJ so powerful and captivating for so many people? Why has BJJ become so popular, with so much dedication from its students, who so often describe the experience as uniquely addictive?


BJJ offers many unique experiences that trigger rich, subtle, and fulfilling psychological changes in its students — changes that promote positive transformation and keep people coming back to the mats.