BJJ FOR BEGINNERS
The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely complex and dynamic grappling art. Even though Jiu Jitsu itself dates back centuries to feudal Japan where the Samurai developed many of these techniques, the Brazilian art was created in the early 1900's by the Gracie family. This Martial Art was designed as a self defense combat that incorporated various aspects of judo throwing, wrestling takedowns, positional control, dynamic transitions, and formidable submissions. Over the years the art has evolved and become more of a sporting Martial Art, with many high level athletes now showcasing their skills on the international stage.
What This Article Covers:
- Starting out at a BJJ Academy
- How to Progress Through the Belt Ranking System
- The Expectations of a Student Inside an Academy
- Training the Right Way
- Balancing All Aspects of BJJ
Since the popularity of the inaugural UFC event, where Royce Gracie dominated a boxer, a savate fighter, and a shootfighting wrestler, many fans are wondering what do you learn in jiu jitsu, as they are tuning in to study this comprehensive grappling art. The popularity in America has gone through the roof, as BJJ academies across the country have reported 20% annual growth in memberships, which is only second to boxing. Beginning a Martial Art like BJJ is an exciting time for a prospective new student, as they will discover how fun and challenging the Martial Art truly is.
STARTING OUT AT A BJJ ACADEMY
Walking into a BJJ academy for the very first time can be extremely daunting, but making the decision to go and train is the hardest step of all. Once the student makes the choice, and begins training in BJJ they will soon discover how encouraging, and professional everyone in the academy is. When beginners start learning BJJ they will often ask their instructor is brazilian jiu jitsu hard to learn. Most instructors tell their students how complex BJJ is, but at the same time can be quite simple to learn. New students should focus on learning fundamental movements, as this will be the best way to build a strong foundation for their game style. Quite often new students become obsessed with BJJ, and start trying to learn movements that are too advanced for their comprehension. This can be a detriment to the new student, as they will miss out on some of the most important building blocks that students should learn in fundamental Jiu Jitsu.
It's always hard to be the new person at a sporting club, and quite often new students can feel nervous, apprehensive, and embarrassed in participating in training. What new students should know is that the BJJ community is exceptional at accepting people from all walks of life. The goal of a BJJ academy is not just to teach Jiu Jitsu moves, but to help people become better versions of themself, as this Martial Art is highly spiritual in its essence. New students will see how encouraging and humble other members of the academy are, as they are all willing to help beginners improve beyond the first stages of Jiu Jitsu. An important component for new students to remember, is to focus on the little things like their balance, their breathing, their pressure, their posture, and their grips. It does take a long time to get proficient at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu technique, and students should realise that there is no rush, and learning at their own pace is the best way to improve within the art.
HOW TO PROGRESS THROUGH THE BELT RANKING SYSTEM
Once beginners have grasped the concept of BJJ, and all of the mechanics involved in the techniques, they will start to build towards promotions in the belt ranking system. Moving up through the ranks is not as easy as other Martial Arts, as it can take a minimum of two years per belt before they will be promoted. This means there is no rush, and students have a significant amount of time to practise all concepts, and techniques they have been taught. The best way to advance through the belt ranking system is to keep in mind a few different factors. The first is fundamental Jiu Jitsu principles, these are extremely important bjj benefits, as they will become the backbone to any successful grapplers game style. In fundamental Jiu Jitsu, students will learn basic concepts of controlling an opponent, passing an opponent's guard, sweeping an opponent, taking an opponent down to the mat, escaping from positions and submissions, and some basic submission finishes.
Another important factor in heading towards belt promotions, is the students overall attitude. Students must be humble and integral, and should treat every member in the academy with respect. This is non-negotiable and is vital to becoming a higher level athlete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is no room for egotistical or reckless people in the sport of BJJ, as all members of a BJJ academy must show a duty of care towards their training partners, and offer them the humble and respect that a warrior deserves. Another important factor for brand new students, is to ask questions, this is how they will grasp an understanding of all concepts that are taught. Even the most dumbest questions that students ask do have some relevance to the art of grappling. In BJJ it is extremely important for students to speak their mind, so they can receive the best instruction they can to help them improve on their overall game.
Students will question how long does it take to master bjj, as they will soon realise another important factor. If students want to move through the ranks quicker, they should seek out higher belts in the gym. Rolling with the coloured belts in a BJJ academy is crucial to improving fast in Jiu Jitsu. It will be extremely hard to learn how to survive, and escape positions if they are not rolling with extremely experienced grapplers. Although students may be shy, and feel like they are no challenge to a higher belt, this is actually not true, as all higher belts can practise their flow chains on the lower ranked belts. This becomes a win win situation for both grapplers, as the beginner will experience the true nature of Jiu Jitsu, while the experienced grappler perfects their technique. The best part about rolling with a higher level athlete, is that they will take the time to teach you things in a one on one environment. Another great way to fast track a beginner's abilities on the mat, is to enter into local BJJ competitions. Even though this may not be feasible for every student, the ones that do enter competition will get a taste of how formidable the art truly is, in a real life situation. If a student steps onto the competition mats, whether they win or lose they will receive unmatched experience, and will be better off for it. Students that are successful in BJJ competitions can also sway the minds of their instructors towards gaining the next belt promotion.
THE EXPECTATIONS OF A STUDENT INSIDE AN ACADEMY
Training at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy is sacred, and students that begin training in the art will have a series of rules to live by. One of the first rules, and probably the most important of all, is to respect everybody. Every student inside a BJJ academy has the right to be respected, feel valued, and reap the mental health benefits of brazilian jiu jitsu. All students must show respect, honesty, integrity, and be accepting of all cultures in their community. So as a student walks in the door they must be respectful, and this also translates into how they are before and after class. Quite often there are kids classes on before the adults class, so students need to remain calm and wait patiently for their time on the mat. Students should leave all their gear neatly packed, and never wear shoes onto the mat, as this is one of the cardinal sins. Some academies will make you bow to the mat before entering, but most academies don't force this issue, as some students like to bow on their own terms.
Students are expected to come to training showered, and with all of their gear clean. Hygiene is extremely important to a BJJ academy, and this is because of skin infections that can spread throughout a gym. As a part of a student's hygiene, they must also make sure their finger and toenails are always clipped, and filed, as this will help prevent students scratching their training partners. Another important aspect that students need to know is humility, now this can be in triumph or defeat. Students need to produce a duty of care towards all of their training partners, and try to avoid injuring their opponents. Injuries can happen due to many dangerous submissions, and movements that students will perform. This works the same in reverse, as students that are on the receiving end of submissions, need to make sure that they tap out before they sustain an injury. Stubbornness can be extremely common in beginners, which can lead to arrogance, as this type of thinking needs to be eradicated quickly out of a beginners mind. Students should embrace the new humble culture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, by showcasing honour, integrity, kind and respectful nature.
TRAINING THE RIGHT WAY
There is a lot of insight in the world that goes into how students should train their BJJ. It is extremely important to take the right path in Jiu Jitsu, as some people may be doing it for the wrong reasons. Usually students that are egotistical and bullies, are quickly exposed amongst the group, and will either leave the academy, or change their ways becoming more humble. Training the right way starts in the mindset of the person, this means they should come to training with a great attitude. If a student understands that other athletes maybe bigger, stronger, and better than them, it becomes increasingly easier for students to be humbling in defeat, or respectful in triumph. The nature of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brings out the best in people, and this is attributed to the fact that: when you are rolling with a training partner, their life is in your hands, and your life is in there hands. BJJ is like a bond between two people, as they develop trust between each other, and challenge each other without injury.
Once the student understands the metaphysical components of BJJ, they can implement a training structure that will help them improve. This kind of mindset breeds excellence, as they look to cover the fundamentals consistently. BJJ is about getting involved, asking questions, studying other grapplers, and jumping in and battle testing everything you learn. Students that go into BJJ with enthusiasm, and perseverance, will ultimately be on the right track in their learning. It is important not to stray away from a linear path too soon, as the temptation to learn more intricate and advanced movements, can be hard to refuse. At the early level of BJJ repetition is vital, as all students should be looking to practise fundamentals, thousands of times over. This is how students can build an extremely strong baseline, or foundation, as they can add more advanced movements later on down their path.
BALANCING ALL ASPECTS OF BJJ
Starting BJJ as a white belt can be daunting, as all of the other training partners in the gym are usually faster, stronger, and better than you are. Sometimes this can force students to dive heavily into strength and conditioning, in order to bridge the gap. This is not necessarily the smartest option, as the student will be on the path of thinking that muscle is what they need, to win in a fight. Sticking to the technique, and trying to execute it's fluency is better for beginners at the start. This doesn't mean they shouldn't be training in strength conditioning, because this will definitely help. Students just have to realise that getting stronger is more about injury prevention, and being able to use their muscles for a better purpose.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about balance, as new students will learn how to maximise their training. This can be done by adding elements of learning techniques, rolling with training partners, doing extensive BJJ warm ups, and utilising other forms of strength and conditioning. Implementing the right training schedule is imperative to a student's improvement, as it is quite easy to over train, or under train. Good bjj tips are to start off any weight training, or cardio sessions at lighter weights, or lower reps, this is just until students gets used to the training regime. Once the student has adapted to the different training styles, they can up their weight, and up their reps. If the beginner can put together a comprehensive training regime, they will be well on their way to fast tracking through the belt ranking system. For students that are pure hobbyists, they should not worry too much about strict training schedules, instead they can just enjoy the journey by learning techniques, rolling with partner's, and doing some light strength and conditioning workouts.
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