What to Expect from your First Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class
So, you’re thinking of finally signing up for BJJ? 99 percent of schools will give an “intro” class to future students. In some schools, you’ll meet up at a predestined time and receive a one-on-one with either the head instructor or one of his students. This class consists of learning how to fall properly, hip escape, roll and possibly a submission(I know my school teaches the key-lock). After that, it’s on to the real class.
If I can do it, so can you, but it takes time…
Don’t expect to be in great shape, or for it to come easy to you. Chances are it isn’t. Not all of us walk into our schools in great shape, but that doesn't mean you don’t deserve to be there. Just show up expecting to work hard, have fun and most of all LEARN. Eventually, the warm ups will become easier. Jiu Jitsu is all about patience – knowing when to explode and when to relax. That mindset applies to everything. Think of Jiu Jitsu as a complex instrument, no one is going to be able to sit down at a piano and just start playing Beethoven. It just does not work like that. Sometimes you need to learn the boring fundamentals before you can hit a flying armbar. I just asked BJJ Black Belt and BJJSML.com Admin Brian Punger, what are the most common mistakes people make when training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? One of his answers was, “Some people expect to come in and kick ass or try to work against the instruction – and expect to prove it[Brazilian Jiu Jitsu] wrong.” Keep in mind, your body is learning to move in ways it’s has never moved before. You’re going to learn what leverage FEELS like, and how to play with your training partner/opponent’s base(balance) – which, even 3 years later, I’m still learning more efficient ways to keep my opponent/training partner’s off balance. All of the aforementioned comes into play when learning a technique, and if you come into your first class expecting to be a black belt, you’re going to go home very disappointed. During my first class, I couldn't even get through the warm up let alone tap someone. I've talked to a lot of people who kept putting off joining a school because they felt they needed to lose weight, get in better shape, or quit smoking, etc in order to join. The best way is to just join – the rest will happen in time. I guarantee you’ll want to smoke a lot less after taking a class – many people who were smokers when they first started no longer smoke. The work out you’ll get from training is second-to-none. You WILL lose weight and you WILL get in better shape if you attend class regularly. The key is: ATTENDING CLASS REGULARLY.
Am I going to have to deal with a bunch of meat heads in pajamas wearing funny colored belts with colored electrical tape on said belts…?
We all know the stigma that comes along with MMA fighting; Guys(and girls) who’s noses are flat, faces are scared, ears are disfigured with cauliflower ear – people who have a chip on their shoulder and ego’s the size of a 1980 Buick Le Sabre and a giant tank with a year supply of gasoline for it. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s association with the UFC and MMA in general tends to lump it’s practitioners into that view on fighters/practitioners. While in some schools, you’re definitely going to have meatheads – they tend to come and go and get weeded out by BJJ natural selection. This is the wrong sport to feed an ego. You’re going to be tapped – it’s just the nature of the beast. As for the types of people that train: I train with doctors, lawyers, students, police officers, EMT’s, and guys who work in retail sales like me. Sean Patrick Flannery (actor in Boondock saints) and Ricki Rockett (drummer of Poison) are both Black belts who have competed at high level competitions. You also have Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes who is a lawyer in Brazil, but chose to come to the US to open a school. To defend MMA, Randy Couture has a degree in German studies. Jeff Monson has a masters degree in psychology.
What does a warm up consist of?
At my school, our warm up consists of jogging, jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups/crunches and other exercises aimed at developing Cardio or strengthening parts of the body used while training. In my opinion, sit ups/crunches are probably the most important of all. They strengthen the core, which are the most common used muscles when executing a technique AND they prevent you from hurting your back! These warm ups will be done in succession without rest for about 10-15 minutes, then followed by a minute or two of stretching. My advice is to do what you can in the beginning. Nobody wants to clean up puke off the mat!
I have no idea what I’m doing….
ALL OF US had no idea what they were doing for the longest time. I felt like that for at least 2 months. At that point, I had developed a sweep or two and a reversal that I would bait people into. Jiu Jitsu is something you master over time.. a very long time. It’s not an art that you grasp overnight. For every technique, there’s a counter and then another counter to that technique. In other words, there’s a reason why you’re not learning all of that stuff and just a basic technique. Focus on the technique you learned in class – don’t worry if you get tapped. It’s not a competition, it’s training. Even B.J. “the Prodigy” Penn took 5 years to receive his black belt – and he’s THE PRODIGY!
Expect to get Humbled…
THE most common response I get from beginners when asked how their first class went is to hear them say they got their, “ass kicked.” This couldn't be further from the truth. It’s not a competition – you didn't get your ass kicked! You had a hole in your game exposed. It’s no big deal – we’re not competing, we’re training and you’re here to learn. Over time, those holes will close and you’ll have an idea of what you’re doing…at least you’ll think so until you roll with a brown or black belt.
What are you waiting for….
There’s no training that I know of that can simulate the type of workout you’ll get from training BJJ. Sure, plyometrics are great and doing triathlons will help(IE: Nick Diaz), but the way your body has to move, the types of muscles you use – there’s just no substitute for it. I worked out with weights for years – I was even a competitive power lifter and I never did a workout as intense as the workouts I get from BJJ. Vinyasa Yoga was probably the closest – that stuff is pretty intense!