It’s been a while, but I’m going off an amazing day and wanted to share my love fest for jiu jitsu with you guys! I started writing this back in November 2011. I wrote about how I was grateful that jiu jitsu helped me lose weight, and that I was so grateful for the wonderful community.

Reason number three: Touch

People need positive touch in their life. The Mayo Clinic wrote that “Touch can relieve pain, reduce blood pressure and stress hormones, and improve the immune system.” Touch deprivation has an incredibly negative effect on both human and monkey babies. NBA basketball teams whose players touch each other more win more games.

. . . touch deprived are more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol (1975, 1980), perhaps in search of the pleasure and serenity that physical affection brings. He also discovered that touch deprived people have more difficulty discriminating between pleasure and pain. They are more likely to engage in self-destructive conduct, and have more serious problems with behaviors that are innately pleasurable, such as affectionate touch and sexual behaviors.

We need touch in our lives. It helps us be healthy and happy. While living in Ukraine, it came to me that I was touch deprived. I realized I was rarely touched. Aside from being squished into a crowded bus, I could go weeks never being touched. It made me sad. I started hugging my friends more. Then I came to Korea and again the physical isolation began – I didn’t know anyone, I sat at home alone watching tv, I was starved for touch.

BJJ lets you meet interesting friends and do things like this!

BJJ lets you meet interesting friends and do things like this!

Jiu Jitsu gave me so much positive touch. We practice with a partner in a positive way, when we spar we’re not trying to kill one another, and afterward we shake hands or pat someone on the back for doing a good job or putt an arm around a teammate – there’s a lot of positive touch in the gym, even if you don’t count all the rolling around. I find that there’s a physical easiness around my teammates, which likely has to do with the fact that we often put ourselves in harms way or in uncomfortable positions, so it builds a comradery. And several of our moves really do feel like hugs. Around the neck.

Physical silliness abounds!

Physical silliness abounds!

“We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

Because jiu jitsu is in my life, my “nurturing touch” meter is brimming. My stress level is lower, I don’t feel so isolated, my mood is elevated, and life is good. Oh, and one more thing to note: When teachers pat students in a friendly way, those students are three times as likely to speak up in class. Thankfully Korea is more comfortable with touch than in America and it’s perfectly appropriate here to give my little 5 year old students hugs and read stories to them while they sit in my lap.

I’m curious as to whether or not touch in jiu jitsu is something that had appeared on your radar. I know it’s one of my reasons for being grateful about jiu jtisu, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard other people mention it as a reason why they like having bjj in their lives.