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Jiu-Jitsu Study Aims to Soothe Symptoms of PTSD

May 3, 2015

By Grace Hoyte

When people think of jiu-jitsu, they might humorously imagine fighters flying with fists ablaze. Rarely would jiu-jitsu elicit images of rehabilitation and recovery.

A new study by USF Health researchers is investigating a possible respite of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as traditional exercise.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport that teaches self-defense against bigger aggressors by using leverage and proper technique to use their size against them.

Alison Willing, one of the lead researchers in the study and a USF Health professor, said the study came together when many veterans who train at Tampa Jiu-Jitsu, a local gym, reported the benefits they saw from the martial art for their PTSD symptoms.

Tampa Jiu-Jitsu began preliminary trials of the experiment and eventually brought the project to the attention of Willing and her colleagues. The USF team added a component of regular "endurance/cardiovascular fitness" to the experiment.

Exercise - regular or occasional - is effective at relieving levels of physical and mental stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is vital for remaining mentally fit and reducing stress because it releases endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers.

"We're trying to quantify the effect," Willing said. "Anecdotes are nice, but we really want to know if this is going to be good for a lot of people." ... click here to continue reading.