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Before 2013, mainstream media wasn’t that familiar with the name Chiwetel Ejiofor. But after the heartfelt, award-winning film “12 Years A Slave”, the British-born actor is known worldwide. In subsequent interviews after the film, he said that storyline at the beginning of the film, “is seen as a man who is trying to gain his freedom. But as you watch the film, it’s really a battle over his mind and how to keep his sanity amid slavery.”

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Just four year earlier, Ejiofor began to toughen up his mental muscle when he began training using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He admits that he never imagined he’d be learning the ins and outs of Jiu-Jitsu, but the prospect of being immersed in the sport for the movie, RedBelt, was one of the main reasons he was excited about being cast.

READ: Martial Arts Master from “Enter The Dragon” Jim Kelly Dies

Ejiofor’s character, Mike Terry, is a Jiu-Jitsu expert who trains police officers and others to be able to handle themselves in difficult physical situations.

“It was great to be able to work with some of the best practitioners that there are of Jiu-Jitsu, and to learn about it as a philosophy, to learn about it physically and mentally,” said Ejiofor.  It’s that mental workout that often goes unnoticed. Below are some of the mental benefits to this ancient art:

IMPROVES STRENGTH THROUGH FLEXIBILITY

Winning the fight isn’t just about strength. Like the old Chinese proverb says, “A tree that is unbending easily falls.” Focusing too much on strength misses the point that you need to apply that strength in all directions, and that’s why you need flexibility.

Chiwetel Ejiofor Uses Martial Arts To Train His Mind  was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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