Table of Contents
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has gained immense popularity over the past few decades. This martial art, which focuses on ground fighting and submission holds, offers numerous physical, mental, and social benefits. If you are considering embarking on a journey into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, this comprehensive guide for BJJ newcomers will provide you with valuable information and get you started on the right track!
I. Understanding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brief history of BJJ:
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in the Japanese martial art of Judo, specifically in the Kodokan Judo ground fighting techniques called “newaza.” In the early 20th century, Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese Judo master, traveled to Brazil and taught his skills to Carlos Gracie, who subsequently taught his younger brother, Helio Gracie. Helio adapted the techniques to suit his smaller and weaker physique, emphasizing the use of leverage over strength. This marked the beginning of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as we know it today.
The Gracie family played a crucial role in popularizing BJJ globally, particularly through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where Royce Gracie showcased its effectiveness in early events. And with Master Carlos Gracie Jr., Gracie Barra‘s founder, which through the belief that Jiu-Jitsu can be practiced by everyone, spread the team through every corner of the world making it the most accomplished one on the way there.
Philosophy and goals of BJJ:
The core philosophy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu centers around the idea that a smaller, weaker person can effectively defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent using leverage, technique, and proper body positioning. BJJ practitioners aim to take their opponents to the ground, where they can control them and apply submission holds, such as chokes and joint locks. The ultimate goal is to force the opponent to give up, known as “tapping out.”
II. Getting Started in BJJ
Finding the right gym:
One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a BJJ beginner is choosing the right gym, or “academy,” to train at. Start by searching for reputable academies in your area, ideally ones affiliated with respected BJJ practitioners or organizations. Pay attention to factors such as the instructor’s experience and credentials, gym atmosphere, class schedule, and cleanliness. Gracie Barra Flatirons is proud to have Professor Jefferson Moura as its Head Instructor, the only 6th Degree Black Belt in Colorado.
Starting with a beginner’s class:
Many academies offer beginner-specific classes designed to introduce newcomers to BJJ basics. These classes are typically led by experienced instructors who understand the common challenges faced by beginners and help to create a supportive learning environment. Beginner’s classes are an excellent way to build a solid foundation in BJJ, as well as to meet other newcomers in a similar situation.
Dress and hygiene:
Proper attire and hygiene are essential in BJJ, both for your safety and the well-being of your training partners. You will need to invest in a BJJ gi, a specific training uniform consisting of a heavy cotton jacket, reinforced trousers, and a colored belt that signifies your rank. You can also train in a rash guard and shorts or spats if there are no-gi classes offered at your academy. Make sure to keep your nails trimmed, avoid wearing jewelry, and shower before and after class to maintain good hygiene.
III. BJJ Basics
Warm-ups and stretching:
BJJ classes typically begin with a warm-up and stretching routine, designed to increase your heart rate and prepare your body for the physical demands of the training session. These exercises often include jogging, jumping jacks, push-ups, and various mobility drills specific to BJJ. Properly warming up and stretching help to minimize the risk of injury and improve your overall performance on the mat.
Techniques and drilling:
After the warm-up, the instructor will demonstrate a specific BJJ technique or series of techniques, such as escapes, sweeps, submissions, or positional control. Pay close attention to the details, and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need clarification. You will then have the opportunity to practice these techniques with a training partner, known as “drilling.” Drilling is essential for building muscle memory and refining your technique.
“Rolling” is the term used to describe live grappling practice in BJJ. This is where you apply the techniques you’ve learned, under resistance, against a training partner. Rolling is an essential aspect of BJJ training, as it allows you to develop a deeper understanding of the techniques and their effectiveness, as well as to gain valuable feedback from your partners. As a beginner, focus on maintaining proper technique and learning from each exchange, rather than trying to “win” each roll.
IV. Advanced Concepts and Strategies
Guard and guard passes:
The guard is a fundamental position in BJJ, where the bottom grappler uses their legs and hips to control and defend against their opponent. There are various types of guards, including closed guard, open guard, half guard, and more specialized guards like the De La Riva guard or spider guard. Guard passing refers to the process of bypassing your opponent’s legs to establish a dominant position. Developing a solid guard and guard passing skills are crucial for success in BJJ.
Dominant positions and transitions:
Dominant positions in BJJ include side control, mount, back control, and knee-on-belly. These positions allow you to control and attack your opponent while minimizing their potential to counter. Learning to establish and maintain dominant positions, as well as transitioning smoothly between them, is vital for your overall grappling game.
Submission defense and escapes:
As a beginner, you’ll find yourself in compromising positions and submission holds frequently. It’s essential to develop solid defense and escape skills to avoid getting submitted or losing dominant positions. Focus on maintaining proper positioning, recognizing potential threats, and executing the appropriate technique to escape submission attempts.
V. Tips for Continued Progress in BJJ
Consistency and patience:
One of the most important factors in your BJJ journey is consistency. Regularly attending classes and practicing the techniques will help you build a solid foundation and see improvement over time. BJJ is a complex martial art, and progress can sometimes feel slow. Be patient, trust the process, and remember that the journey itself is more important than the destination.
Many beginners find it helpful to keep a BJJ journal where they jot down techniques, concepts, and insights learned during class. Reviewing your notes can help solidify your understanding, identify gaps in your knowledge, and track your progress over time.
Open mat sessions:
Open mat sessions are informal training sessions where participants can practice techniques, drill, and roll at their own pace, without a structured class format. These sessions offer an excellent opportunity to get extra mat time, work on specific areas of your game, and train with a wider variety of training partners.
VI. Etiquette and Respect in BJJ
Tapping and safety:
Tapping out is a key aspect of BJJ culture and safety. If you feel caught in a submission or uncomfortable in any position, tap your opponent or the mat to let them know to stop. Likewise, be observant of your training partner’s tapping and always prioritize safety over winning a roll.
Respect your training partners:
Your training partners are essential for your growth and improvement. Treat them with respect, leave your ego outside the mat, and remember that everyone is there to learn and get better together.
Respect your instructor:
Show appreciation and respect for your instructor’s knowledge and guidance. Pay attention during class, follow their instructions, and address them with the proper title (usually “Professor” or “Coach”).
VII. Setting Goals in BJJ
Set achievable short-term goals that focus on specific aspects of your BJJ game, such as improving your guard retention, mastering a submission, or attending a certain number of classes per week. These goals will help you stay motivated and make tangible progress.
Long-term goals might include achieving a higher belt rank or competing in a BJJ tournament. These goals provide direction and purpose to your training and can fuel your motivation during challenging times.
Personal development goals:
BJJ offers numerous opportunities for personal growth, such as improving your physical fitness, developing mental resilience, and building social connections. Consider setting personal development goals that align with your values and ambitions outside of BJJ.
In conclusion, starting your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey can be both exciting and challenging. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the early stages of your BJJ training, build a solid foundation, and ultimately find success on the mats. Remember to stay consistent, patient, and open-minded as you progress through the ranks and embrace the many transformative experiences that BJJ has to offer. Oss!
What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds. It emphasizes the use of technique and leverage to enable a smaller, weaker person to effectively defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent. BJJ originated from the Japanese martial art of Judo and was further developed by the Gracie family in Brazil.
How can I find a reputable BJJ gym/academy?
To find a reputable BJJ gym, search for academies in your area that are affiliated with respected BJJ practitioners or organizations. Consider factors such as the instructor’s experience and credentials, the gym atmosphere, class schedule, and cleanliness when making your decision.
What should I wear for BJJ training?
For BJJ training, you will need a BJJ gi – a specific uniform consisting of a heavy cotton jacket, reinforced trousers, and a colored belt that signifies your rank. Alternatively, for no-gi classes, you can wear a rash guard and shorts or spats. Good hygiene is essential, so ensure your nails are trimmed, remove any jewelry, and shower before and after training.
What is “rolling” in BJJ?
“Rolling” is the term used to describe live grappling practice in BJJ, where you apply the techniques you’ve learned under resistance against a training partner. Rolling is an essential aspect of BJJ training that helps you develop a deeper understanding of techniques, improve your grappling skills, and gain valuable feedback from your partners.
How can I set achievable goals for my BJJ journey?
Set short-term goals that focus on specific aspects of your BJJ game, such as improving a particular technique or attending a certain number of classes per week. Establish long-term goals, such as achieving a higher belt rank or competing in a tournament. Consider setting personal development goals that align with your values and ambitions outside of BJJ, like improving your physical fitness or building social connections. Remember to be patient and consistent as you work towards your goals.