Benjamin Stacey (above), Professor Damian Bailey and Zac Campbell, a former BSc Sport and Exercise Science student, have published their research on the impact of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu participation on cerebral blood flow and cognition in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports (SJMSS).
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a popular martial art that exposes participants to recurrent intermittent asphyxiation due to controlled application of neck chokes.
Unlike several combat sports, BJJ categorically prohibits strikes to the body, especially the head, favouring limb manipulation and neck chokes to coerce an opponent into submission.
Concerns have been raised regarding the potential link between repetitive neck chokes, structural brain damage and cognitive decline.
The researchers assessed global cerebral blood flow using Duplex ultrasonography and cognitive function via a battery of neuropsychological tests in elite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes alongside age-, gender- and fitness-matched controls. They found preliminary evidence for accelerated neuroprotection in the form of a sustained, permanent elevation in resting global cerebral blood flow and preserved cognition in BJJ athletes, when compared to controls.
“Collectively, these unique findings argue against the notion that BJJ predisposes to accelerated cognitive decline subsequent to impaired cerebrovascular function,” said Benjamin, a lecturer in Clinical Science and member of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory.
“With the explosive rise in popularity across the world, our findings can help to inform much-needed follow-up research to extensively examine both the short and long-term implications of participation in the unique sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.”