Here are some tips for getting started with BJJ training. When I started I wish somebody would have told me these things – it would have saved some confusion and perhaps a little embarrassment too.
How to choose a BJJ School
- Make sure your school has at least 1 Black Belt instructor. The reason this is important is that Black Belts are not only better instructors, they also tend to keep the students more disciplined. Trust me when I say that this is important, because when students are not disciplined they can be over-aggressive – and that is how people get hurt. Even if you don’t mind the pain, remember that learning technique is more important than kicking ass.
- Always make sure you do a trial-run at multiple places before signing up. Most schools will let you participate in one class session for free so that you can get a feel for things. You should get a feel for the instructor(s), other students, class schedule, etc.
- Make sure they offer instruction from competition tested instructors. This ensures that what you are learning is not theoretical, and has been tested and proven by the instructor. This also helps to modify the technique for you based on your opponent size and style, due to the teacher knowing how to ‘tweak’ it in his own experiences.
- Do you really want to be great at brazilian jiu-jitsu? Learning your BJJ craft at a school dedicated to it, and not just adding it as a “few days a week” class, will ensure that you are constantly developing.
At Bastos BJJ Midland, we offer all of this, from WORLD CHAMPIONS in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, and Pro MMA Fighters. Our coaches are a trusted source of training for BJJ practitioners from all over the world including Bulgaria, Canada, Arizona, Texas, and Brazil. Our coaches are also trusted with the careers of professional fighters featured on AXS TV, Bellator Fighting Championships, Strikeforce, and the UFC.
What to expect – Typical BJJ class format
- Warm-ups. I have found that these are usually pretty intense. Combination of running, jumping jacks, push-ups, squats, crunches, repeat, neck warmups, repeat, etc, etc. I have also found that instructors may also do specific drills depending on the technique they plan on teaching that day.
- Technique instruction – you usually go through 2-3 different techniques. Each starts with the instructor giving a detailed demonstration, followed by pairing up with a partner and taking turns executing the technique. When practicing, it is important to take it slow and make sure you get the details of the technique correct. During these exercises, your opponent will only do minimal (if any) resistance to make that easy.
- Open Sparring / Rolling – this is where you apply everything you know in sparring with a fully resisting opponent. You should try to apply what you learned in class that day.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Etiquette
- First and most important, although BJJ tends to be much less formal than other martial arts, always show respect to the instructors and fellow students. No exception.
- Never walk on the mat with your shoes – this is highly frowned upon as it leads to the spread of skin born diseases like ringworm
- Always bow before you enter and leave the mat. This is usually done by slapping both hands on the side of your legs (where your hands hit when you arm is resting) and bowing at the same time toward the center of the mat or the instructor.
- Before sparring, usually a combination handshake and fist pump is used (or one or the other). Once the fists touch, it’s go time!
- When learning technique, take it slow! The important thing is to get the mechanics down right, not just doing it fast. Your focus should be on learning technique, not kicking ass (that part comes in tournaments and when you are a little more experienced). When doing open sparring / rolling, you can take things at whatever speed you are comfortable with.
- If you are rolling and start to run into other people who are rolling, the lower level belts should always stop and get out of the way of the higher level belts. Belt levels go in this order from beginner to master. For Adults: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, Black. For Kids (16 and under): White, Yellow, Orange, Green. There are also up to 4 stripes between belt levels to indicate progress. BE SURE YOU ARE GETTING BELTED BY AN IBJJF CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR AND/OR FOLLOW THE IBJJF RANKING SYSTEM. This guarantees legitimacy of all your hard work.
- Don’t be afraid to ask fellow students and the instructors questions if the technique is not clear to you, and don’t be afraid to let other students know what is working and not working with their execution of a technique.