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BJJ 101

New to Jiu Jitsu? Here is a list of questions and answers to help you determine if it's for you and get you through your first day. Still have questions? Contact us. We're here to help.

I don’t own a Gi. Do I need to buy one to try out the class?

No. It's great if you already have a Gi but you are welcomed to your first fundamentals class in comfortable athletic clothing.

What do I need to know about my first class?

Please try to arrive 10-15 minutes early so that you can meet the instructor, sign a waiver and get you set up with a loaner Gi (uniform), if necessary. You should wear comfortable athletic clothing (t-shirt or compression shirt, sweatpants, shorts or board shorts). We recommend wearing dry-fit or moisture wicking undergarments, since you will sweat. Most people wear sandals as we do not allow shoes on the mat. Also bring water. 

What should I expect my first class?

The first part of class consists of a warm-up which includes stretching, core work, and movement drills. After the warm-up, the instructor(s) will show the technique of the day.  You will be partnered with other students and will drill the technique. The last part of class is the “rolling”, which is the grappling equivalent to sparring. If you are in the fundamentals class, there is no sparring .

Can I roll on my first class? 

We insist that you DO NOT roll your very first day as it takes some time for your muscles and body to acclimate to the positions and movements of BJJ.  However, if you have significant prior experience, you are welcome to join in sparring. This is at the instructor's discretion though. The instructor will typically pair you up with someone who is more experienced so that they can work with you and guide you through our rolling process.

What’s a typical class like?

We begin class with some light calisthenics and stretching. Following our warm-up, we then begin drilling techniques. These drills when done over and over help form muscle memory and help our students retain technique. After our drilling is completed then we begin to roll. Rolling is when students can put their techniques to the test with training partners who can resist and counter just as they would in an actual fight, providing valuable real-world experience should the techniques ever need to be applied in an actual fight.

Is BJJ good exercise?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can provide you with much more extensive results than typical aerobic exercise. The resistance encountered while rolling provides you with a good base to improve your core strength through intense abdominal workout, increase your muscle tone, and reduce your body fat while improving your balance, bodily coordination, cardio vascular capacity, and muscular endurance.

I'm a woman: is BJJ right for me?

BJJ is an excellent choice for women. In terms of self-defense, BJJ is perfect from a female perspective, as it deals with the unfortunately common self-defense situations: BJJ features a lot of attacks and defenses when you are on the ground.  It is also a martial art which was designed for a smaller person to overcome a larger one, which again has clear applications for women's self-defense.

Would BJJ benefit my child?

Absolutely! Jiu-Jitsu, which means “gentle art”, emphasizes the use of technique and leverage. So, your child won’t have to rely on size, strength, or speed, while also learning to defend themselves and subdue their opponent in a safe way without striking.  Your child will develop physical awareness of balance, reflexes, flexibility and coordination, as well as build on the mental aspects of their personality such as self-esteem, discipline, confidence, compassion, and good work ethic. We promote an attitude of excellence. The classes are taught in a positive, fun and friendly manner, so your child will enjoy learning the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

What is the difference between Gi and No-Gi?

Simply put, Gi training involves wearing a cotton jacket and pants, while No-Gi is normally done in a combination of a rash guard or t-shirt with shorts.

The main difference between rolling with a Gi and without is that the Gi allows a person to slow things down and use position and technique rather than strength or speed.  Physical attributes come into it a lot more with no-Gi: though they’re certainly not absent in the Gi, they can at least be negated to a certain extent by all the handles a Gi provides. No-Gi is normally also, therefore, faster paced than Gi.

What’s a Gi?

A Gi (sometimes referred to as Kimono) is the uniform that is typically worn when training Jiu Jitsu. It consists of 3 pieces: a jacket (or top), pants, and a belt. The material in which the three pieces are made is specially reinforced to withstand the rigors of daily practice. Most practitioners of Jiu-Jitsu who advocate the usage of the Gi cite the more technical aspect of grappling with a Gi.

Is there a code of conduct?

Yes. Here are the general rules to follow during training:

  • Avoid foul language

  • Respect everyone. The instructors are your friends, but you must still maintain good conduct. Give respect, get respect.

  • Check your attitude and ego at the door. Bad attitudes will not be welcomed back.

  • Be on time for class (If late, ask the instructor for permission to enter class)

  • Let the instructor know ahead of time if you need to leave class early

  • Always bow or shake hands before rolling

  • NEVER get too aggressive while rolling. You should pace yourself – don’t grind or crank away in order to get the submission

  • No shoes on the mat

  • Refrain from horseplay, talking, and interrupting while your instructor is teaching

  • Keep yourself properly groomed

  • Keep your uniform clean!


Why Train with the Gi?

As you practice Jiu Jitsu, you will find it useful as both an offensive and defensive tool. You will also realize its value as a common uniform to promote safe and technical practice of Jiu-jitsu.

The Gi game obviously has a lot more to it. Everything that can be done with the Gi, can be done without it, making it a more complex game. Additionally, taking away the Gi allows physical attributes such as size, strength, and athleticism to come to play with greater effect due to the lack of levers and friction. For now, you should view your Gi as a set of training wheels. As you develop a higher level of proficiency, you will learn to perform Jiu Jitsu techniques with and without a Gi. The Gi will add a level of sophistication to your game that will result in you, as a student, becoming a more advanced and technical fighter.

I am over 40 years old, am I too old to attend BJJ classes?

No, many of my top students are over 40! As long as you make sure to work within your own abilities and give yourself time to recover you will do great! Remember, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is based on technique and leverage, not athleticism or youth. Train smarter, not harder!

I am recovering from an injury that I suffered in the past and my doctor has cleared me to train. Will I be able to work into your BJJ classes with my physical limitation?

Yes! The art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone. We can work around any limitations that you may have, as long as you make the instructors aware of any exercises, drills, or techniques that are causing pain or discomfort.

How does the belt ranking system work in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

For adult students, there are five belts: white, blue, purple, brown and black.  The normal time of progression between belts averages about 2-4 years. After black belt, there is a degree system to designate active time in the art.  7th degree becomes a red and black belt. 10th degree is reserved for the founders of the art. There are additional belt colors for children under the age of 16. 

How does this apply to military and law enforcement?

Unless you are patrolling a beach (in which case, you have a sweet assignment and nothing to complain about), your opponents are wearing clothes. There have been many reports from Military/Law Enforcement personnel saying that they favor training with the Gi and make good use of collar chokes. In fact, the core of the Modern Army Manual is based on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and soldiers often train in their BDUs.

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