Transforming Trauma with Jiu-Jitsu: A Guide for Survivors, Therapists, and Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners to Facilitate Embodied Recovery (Paperback)

Transforming Trauma with Jiu-Jitsu: A Guide for Survivors, Therapists, and Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners to Facilitate Embodied Recovery By Jamie Marich, PHD, Anna Pirkl, LMFT Cover Image
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Heal from trauma and PTSD with the martial art of jiu-jitsu--written for survivors, mental health therapists, and trauma-informed martial arts instructors.

This groundbreaking book introduces jiu-jitsu as a powerful embodied modality for trauma survivors in recovery, and includes 10 grounding practices, self-defense techniques, and 30 instructional photos.
Unhealed trauma--from “little t” traumas to complex PTSD--leaves a lasting imprint on the bodies and minds of survivors. And in the aftermath of trauma, many people experience shifts in how they feel, connect with others, and interact with the world at large. This embodied, whole-person approach will help you heal the wounds of traumatic stress and how it shows up within yourself and your relationships, from disembodiment and numbness to anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, and dissociation.

As part of a martial arts trauma recovery program, you’ll learn about:

   • Trauma, embodiment, and the transformative power of jiu-jitsu
   • Self-defense skills that can help survivors of violence define boundaries and feel safe, secure, powerful, and at home in their bodies 
   • Creating a welcoming, responsive practice space as a studio owner
   • Integrating jiu-jitsu practice into a safe, accessible recovery protocol for survivors--and how therapists can recommend them to clients or build them into a treatment plan
Written for trauma survivors, mental health clinicians, and martial arts practitioners and studio owners who want to create a safe, empowering, and trauma-sensitive space, Transforming Trauma with Jiu-Jitsu is a unique and vital guide to healing trauma’s invisible wounds.

About the Author

JAMIE MARICH, Ph.D. (she/they) speaks internationally on topics related to EMDR therapy, trauma, addiction, dissociation, expressive arts, yoga, and mindfulness, and maintains a private practice in her home base of Warren, OH. She founded and directs The Institute for Creative Mindfulness and developed the Dancing Mindfulness approach to expressive arts therapy as well as Yoga for Clinicians. Marich has written numerous books, notably Trauma and the 12 Steps: An Inclusive Guide to Recovery (recent edition with North Atlantic Books, 2020). She has won numerous awards for LGBT+ and mental health advocacy. In 2017, she earned her Women Empowered Pink Belt through Gracie University of Jiu-Jitsu. Learn more about Marich’s work at
ANNA PIRKL, MFT specializes in recovery from complex trauma, addiction, and anxiety disorders. She has worked with a wide range of clients from adolescents at Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall, to men in recovery at sober livings, to pregnant to parenting teens. She is the author of 12 Creative Experiences for Personal Growth in Recovery and is a seasoned presenter, booking  speaking engagements in community and high school mental health events, mental health conferences and for corporate wellness events. Pirkl earned her Women’s Empowered Pink Belt, Combatives Belt, and Blue Belt at Gracie University Jiu-Jitsu. Learn more about Pirkl’s work at

Praise For…

“My grandfather, Helio Gracie, created Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to assist the smaller, less athletic person in staying safe under attack. Using jiu-jitsu in the service of healing trauma survivors honors his legacy. I applaud Anna’s and Jamie’s efforts to spread the word and take healing to the next level. I highly recommend this book to instructors and practitioners everywhere.”
—Rener Gracie, fourth-degree Black Belt, cofounder and co-owner of Gracie University

“I’ve closely followed Dr. Jamie’s collection of movement work because of her unique ability to simplify critical concepts while providing clear and practical tools to reconnect with your body and heal. Jamie and collaborator Anna help trauma survivors like myself see new possibilities and options for managing daily life, which builds a sense of resilience and feeling empowered in our decisions. Together they give ideas for how people can sensitively and effectively access movement and the martial arts, which provide immediate short-term benefits as well as long-term shifts in our nervous system, overall posture, and self-expression. This book is a gateway to a full, expansive, and authentic life and I’m so thankful they’ve made this kind of deep transformation available for everyone.”
—Alyson Stoner, founder of Movement Genius and mental health advocate

Transforming Trauma with Jiu-Jitsu pushes psychotherapy beyond the siloed role that it normally holds in a person’s healing process and extends those benefits into a real-world, practical, and empowering place for people overcoming trauma. Marich and Pirkl demonstrate the healing effects of jiu-jitsu explained through the lens of how someone who has undergone trauma would experience the process and give practical direction for clinicians, gyms, and people who may wish to incorporate martial arts in their trauma recovery. This book helps to break down the barriers of the overlapping but often partitioned worlds that can serve in the roles of providing healing. This kind of extension is a necessary step forward for the mental health field to better support recovery!”
—Curt Widhalm, MA, MS, LMFT, cofounder of the Therapy Reminagined Conference

“Marich and Pirkl’s new book is a treasure trove of insight and empirically based information. This book clearly explains how healing from trauma, utilizing somatic-oriented methods (in particular jiu-jitsu), is possible and very attainable.... With the information in this book on the basic techniques and interesting history of jiu-jitsu, I now can confidently place this martial art recommendation at the top of the list (and better help trauma survivors discern if a potential dojo is healthy, positive, and welcoming), with research to back this up.”
—Stephanie Baird, LMHC, EMDRIA approved consultant and former karate practitioner and author of EMDR and Sexual Health

“There are many pathways to successful healing. In their excellent discussion of jiu-jitsu’s role in healing trauma survivors, Jamie Marich and Anna Pirkl provide the theory and practical knowledge helpful to both the healer and trauma survivor in need of healing.”
—S. George Kipa, MD, MS Detroit, MI

Product Details
ISBN: 9781623176150
ISBN-10: 1623176158
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication Date: March 15th, 2022
Pages: 304
Language: English