If you're looking to try a martial art for both fitness and self-defense, you may want to give Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a try. Jiu-Jitsu stands for "flexible art" and is considered by some to be the oldest form of martial art. It originated in India, spread throughout Asia into Japan, and eventually landed in Brazil.
Even though this combat sport is practiced mostly by men, it's especially great for women to learn to defend themselves in unsafe situations. Why? It's all about the belief that it doesn't matter if you are small or weak. As long as you master the techniques of gaining leverage over your opponent, then you'll be able to protect yourself against an attacker who may be larger or stronger.
Check out this video to see what it's all about.
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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) focuses on grappling, which basically means you're holding, gripping, and controlling your opponent without kicking or punching. It's a lot like wrestling where you're rolling around on the ground trying to obtain the dominant position over your partner. You'll learn chokeholds that affect your opponent's ability to breathe, grappling holds to control your opponent, and joint locks where you're holding a person's body in such a way that their joints reach their maximum point of motion. With BJJ, it'll work your entire body, enhance your sense of balance, flexibility, and strength. It will also benefit your cardiovascular and respiratory health, and build personal courage and self-confidence.
Fit's Tip: If you're looking for a good place to learn, go to BJJUSA.com and click on Affiliated Schools. These centers usually offer hour long beginner classes.