Brazilian JiuJitsu

How to Choose a Brazilian JiuJitsu School

Brazilian JiuJitsu is a specialized activity, and it takes some time after diving in to begin to understand what it really is. The difference between a great school and a place that is lacking in one or more ways can be hard for a beginner to judge. By the time a new student figures out that their gym is not a legitimate BJJ school, they may have wasted quite a bit of time and money, opened themselves up to unnecessary injury risk, created bad habits that can hold them back from learning good technique, and developed a false sense of security in their ability to defend themselves. In contrast, a great BJJ school can provide students safe training, physical fitness, solid self-defense skills, and a diverse social group that is supportive and encouraging.

Among the many good BJJ schools, there are differences. Some schools would be classified as self-defense or lifestyle gyms, and some as sport competition gyms, but most are a blend of styles and focus. Each school also attracts a different clientele, has a different atmosphere, training philosophy, schedule, and facilities. How is someone new to the sport able to evaluate the jiujitsu options in their area when they are interested in starting? There are a number of questions you can ask to help you find a legitimate gym that fits you well. 

Note: If you are new to jiujitsu, pause here and read my previous blog entry “What is Brazilian JiuJitsu?”. Having more understanding about what BJJ is will allow you to better grasp the need to spend your time training at a real gym that aligns with your interests.

Things to Consider and Questions to Ask

1) The Head Instructor’s credentials. This is the first thing to evaluate, and an easy place to cross the most lacking schools off your list. Do not waste your time learning from someone who is not qualified to lead a school. As jiujitsu has grown and matured, many cities now have schools headed by local black belt instructors. Earning a BJJ black belt generally a takes decade or more of dedicated study and training, and is not awarded lightly. Holding a black belt signifies that a person has studied and practiced long and hard, and their accomplishments have been recognized within the community. A black belt does not necessarily make someone a good person or a great teacher, but if they have attained this rank under a recognized and respected teacher above them, it is probably safe to move on to the next question.

Some newer schools may have brown or possibly even purple belt instructors teaching under an affiliated black belt instructor. Their black belt affiliate will help them progress their own learning, promote their students, and possibly in designing the curriculum. This can be a good situation if the instructor is motivated to continue their own progress, has regular contact with their professor above them, and is good at teaching. Considering a school with a head instructor lower than black belt could be appropriate if there are not other established schools in your area, or if the other local schools have atmospheres or focuses that are not comfortable for you.

One thing to know is that there are unqualified instructors operating schools to teach Brazilian JiuJitsu. It is not uncommon for white or blue belts to open gyms to teach some version of Brazilian JiuJitsu, or self-defense based on BJJ. These schools often use a small curriculum of memorized self-defense responses, and generally do not offer the live sparring that is a critical component of BJJ training. These instructors and their students have no reliable way to improve their skills over time because they are not training with skilled practitioners, and are not receiving live feedback from sparring. These schools take people’s time and money and can’t give much of value back. The instructors at schools such as this often do not have a deep enough understanding of the art to realize how much they do not know, so are unknowingly teaching techniques that are misapplied or in a manner that will not empower a person to use them if needed.

Here are some questions to ask about the head instructor’s credentials. Don’t be shy here—jiujitsu people generally love talking about jiujitsu!

Ask who they have trained under, and who has promoted them to their current belt. They should have a clear answer they are proud of. If they skirt the question or don’t give you a solid name you can look up later, that is a big red flag.

Ask how long they have been training, and if they are a lower belt, how frequently they still work with their affiliated black belt above them. This question is not to determine if your instructor has trained long enough—everyone’s path through the progression of the art is their own. It is to determine if a lower-belt instructor is someone who is well-supported and working to better themselves under an active affiliated black belt. It will also draw your eye to the potential online blue-belt teaching when they are very much beginners themselves.

2) The school’s focus and demographics: Most schools will span a wide group of people and have students with different goals they are hoping to meet through their training. It is not uncommon for teens to be training with 50 year-olds, homeschool moms to be training with construction guys, and serious competitors training with casual students. The diversity of the people in a gym is one of the beautiful things about BJJ, and seeing a variety of people having fun while supporting each other’s differing goals is common at a good gym.

That said, some schools focus more heavily on sport-specific moves and a competition application of the art, and some focus more heavily on moves for a more self-defense style. There is a lot of overlap here—most students will learn the same things over time, and many self-defense schools send people to compete, even if they don’t focus on competition for most of their students.

Questions to ask about the focus and demographics of the gym: Do any of your students compete? The answer should be that at least some students compete sometimes. A school who discourages all students from competing (or visiting other schools) should be a red flag. One of the great things about BJJ is that even casual students can safely compete with others at 100%. A school should be open to receiving feedback about the effectiveness of their students versus students from other gyms.

Are your students expected to compete? It isn’t common that all students at a gym would have to compete to be promoted, but there are some gyms in which competing regularly is expected for many or most of their students. This is not a problem as long as competition is something that you are interested in. Training for competition is often more intense than casual training, and if you are older, have lingering injuries, or differing abilities, serious sport competition schools may be a poor fit for you. If you know that competition will be what you love about BJJ and want to compete frequently, you may want to seek out a competition-focused school with a competitor instructor. Most good schools, however, will be a good fit for both competitors and non-competitors.

When visiting a school to observe or for a trial class, ask yourself if the people you see training in the gym are people you’d like to train with. The most important things to note is  the atmosphere created by the people. Don’t judge people by their looks when popping into the gym—judge the gym by how people are interacting. Are they having fun? Are you seeing the more experienced students working respectfully together across lines of size, strength, and sex? Are the people friendly and interested in explaining what you are seeing?

3) Women—The Canaries in the Coal Mine: This article is written for the BJJsisterhood.com blog, so including a section on how women can evaluate a school for their needs is important. Parents evaluating a school for their children and men who want to participate in a safe and supportive atmosphere can also benefit from this information.

When calling to ask questions or when visiting, find out if there are other women who regularly train. A newer or smaller school may just not have their first woman student for no other reason than it just hasn’t happened yet, and you may be that special, gritty one to jump in and blaze the trail. At larger or more mature schools, however, having a number of women who regularly train is a good sign. Fewer women start jiujitsu than men, so the ratio of men-to-women is unlikely to be even, but if a school is having a hard time keeping women as students at a different rate than their men, that is a red flag.

An active group of women in the gym suggests three things, which are indicators of a good school for all students:

A) The instructor matches partners safely and chooses appropriate moves for the pairings that are in each particular class period; keeping in consideration a balance of size, strength, and experience level. This makes for a safer environment for all students, not just women.

B) The instructor values the development of technique and the proper application of jiujitsu moves over simply physically overpowering training partners to “win” as the goal. This encourages the development of quality jiujitsu from all the students, helping everyone to progress more quickly, and builds a safer training environment for everyone.

C) The instructor keeps creeps out, and is not a creep himself. Training Brazilian JiuJitsu requires trust in your partners. Great training does not include dealing with mat bullies, inappropriate touching, or behavior that makes you uncomfortable. A good gym will have many eyes focused on preventing these situations, and the instructor will be very motivated to keep the school a safe place for all students—women, men, and children. If there are a number of women in the gym, that is a good sign that they feel safe and supported

4) Other questions to ask:

Does the school offer classes at a time you can attend? Are there enough classes offered that you could attend two classes per week to start?

Are they upfront about their pricing? Do they have a contract and do you understand it?

When you walk into the school, does it seem clean? Does it smell like a moldy sock? Our gym is generally quite clean, but I have visited some that have not seemed like they are well-tended. Remember that you are going to be touching the mat and it is not uncommon to find yourself face down on it from time-to-time. The locker room area should be comfortable, and people should wear shoes to the bathroom

Steps to Take:

After reading about what Brazilian JiuJitsu is and making your list of questions to find answers to, call or message the local schools you are interested in. Ask if you can come in to try a free class. All schools should allow prospective students to try a class to see if they like the gym and if BJJ is something they are interested in. Stick around after class to watch the students “roll” or spar with each other—this will show you what BJJ really is, and give you the chance to feel out the atmosphere of the gym. See if you can watch the instructor wrestle some of his or her students, and spend some time talking with the people. Get the scoop on membership, fees, schedule, and anything else that interests you. 

If you decide to join, set a schedule for yourself. Choose two or three classes each week—I have seen many beginning students make great progress when coming regularly twice a week. Pick an amount of time and commit yourself to going regularly for 6 or 12 months. BJJ is an activity with a steep learning curve at the beginning, and the progress is slow, so a nice chunk of time is necessary to really know what you are doing, where you see yourself going in the art, and if you want to continue. 

Good luck, and I hope to see you on the mats!

Brazilian JiuJitsu

What is Brazilian JiuJitsu?

A Vast System of Deep Knowledge

Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ) is a martial art, self-defense system, and sport. It is complex and deep, and generally takes 10 or more years of dedicated study and practice to achieve black belt level ability. Learning does not stop at black belt—the knowledge that makes up the system of BJJ deepens by orders of magnitude. If size, strength, and age are equal, a person who has been a black belt for ten or twenty years could dominate and defeat a brand new black belt as easily as that new black belt would defeat a newer student.  BJJ can be a lifetime journey, never fully mastered.

BJJ is Great for Self-Defense

BJJ is considered by many to be the most effective self-defense art, allowing technique and knowledge to even out a disparity in physical size and strength. This increases as a person’s technical ability grows, allowing them to control a person of greater size difference as they progress in their training. Since BJJ is a system of positional dominance, an experienced practitioner can control an untrained person without having to injure him or her.  

100% Resisted Sparring 

In BJJ competition or training, a win is when one partner submits, and this is signaled with a tap. When a successful submission is applied, the losing person is no longer able protect against their opponent—much like a checkmate in chess—and they tap. The most common submissions are joint locks and chokes, and they force the student to tap or take injury. Respect for the tap and not using strikes allows people to safely train hard, trying to best their opponent. Live training allows for no confusion on what actually works, because it is practiced against resisting partners in a manner that allows up to 100% exertion on a daily basis. This cannot be said for striking arts, in which you must hit pads or stop short from full contact against your partner. 

JiuJitsu’s live sparring creates a laboratory-like quality in which the student hones their strategy, their movement, and learns what they are actually capable of doing. The culture of live sparring improves the individual student but also BJJ as a whole, as practitioners of all levels all over the world can compete or train with each other at countless local, regional, and international events and know that their school is on par with the rest of the Brazilian JiuJitsu community. 

What Does Knowing BJJ Mean for Real World Self-Defense? 

If a BJJ-experienced child needs to defend him- or herself from a bully, they have the confidence to do so knowing they do not have to hurt the other kid. The BJJ student is likely to be able to get to a dominant position and control their opponent without injury to either person. The experience of getting squashed and working hard against a resisting partner in class each week builds toughness, grit, confidence, and technical skills that can be used if needed. 

For adults, knowing JiuJitsu can mean something as simple as being able to subdue their drunk cousin at the family picnic if needed without hurting someone they care about. They will be better able to defend against an attack on the street with a much lower chance of serious injury to either party. Hours and hours of practice working effective moves (both from standing and on the ground) in the laboratory of the gym gives realistic knowledge of what is likely to work in a self-defense situation and what will not—information that is unique to each student’s physical attributes. Full-contact, resisted training develops experience in thinking under pressure and understanding what an opponent using his or her strength against you feels like.

Brazilian JiuJitsu is excellent for women’s self-defense in particular, as they are more likely than men to be at a significant physical disadvantage if they are attacked. Featured in women’s self-defense concerns is rape prevention, and BJJ addresses this well. While students learn techniques from standing to be able to get grabbing hands off and to throw someone to the ground, jiujitsu is mainly a ground-based sport. We are not defeated when our backs are on the ground and we have a person between our legs. Instead, we are the aggressors in that position with a rich and powerful menu of options to utilize, and hours of experience applying our moves on men who do not want to tap and are resisting 100%. 

How is BJJ Learned?

Brazilian JiuJitsu can’t be learned effectively on your own. You cannot watch enough online tutorials or DVDs and beg enough family members and friends to allow you to try things out on them to be worth your time. The details of the art are so subtle that beginners can’t pick them up on their own. You need to feel the moves applied to you by other students with experienced people overseeing your efforts and progress. At a good school, you will be learning much more than a list of self-defense techniques to be memorized. You will be piecing together a huge and intriguing system that fits like a puzzle. During class, you will work with a more experienced student to drill moves, and according the the timetable of your school’s guidelines, you will soon begin live sparring with the help and support of your teammates. 

You need to choose your gym and instructor wisely to be safe in training, not develop unrealistic expectations of your abilities, and make the most of your valuable time and money. You should find a local BJJ school with a highly-ranked head instructor—a black belt if possible—and see if you like the environment they offer. See my post “How to Choose a Brazilian JiuJitsu School”, for what to look for in a school and what questions to ask a potential gym and instructor. 

Other Benefits BJJ Students Enjoy

Many BJJ students love training for reasons other than self-defense. Self-defense ability is only one asset gained from spending time learning jiujitsu, and while it is a great skill to have in your back pocket, other common benefits are more compelling for many of us. 

Social benefits:  Your teammates will come to be your close friends over time if you invest yourself in them. You will get to know people from all different walks of life—often people you would not have had the joy of meeting in your typical circles. You will grow to trust them and will become a part of a tight gym family. Coming to class is often the highlight of the week—hanging out with friends, joking around, and helping each other work toward a common goal.

Physical benefits:  There are many ways BJJ helps people be healthier physically. Some will see big physical transformations through weight loss. For others, it is great maintenance exercise—drilling and wrestling can be enough exertion to keep in great shape, and it can be much more fun than more traditional exercise. And for some, the structure of attending class in the evenings helps them to make better decisions throughout the day, from healthier food choices to avoiding unhealthy habits like drinking or using drugs. 

Mental benefits: This is one area that, when beginning, most students don’t realize will be as beneficial as it is—if they stick with it. Learning JiuJitsu is hard, and progress is slow. You will develop grit and perseverance. You will get comfortable being uncomfortable both physically and emotionally. You will get good at making long-term goals and chipping away at them. You will have a mental puzzle to work on all the time—how the moves fit together, and what to do in different situations. You will develop more self-confidence even if you already had plenty. 

Sport and competition outlet: BJJ offers the opportunity to compete against others and against yourself. Each day you will be pushing yourself to get better than you were the day before. For some people, particularly lifetime athletes, this competition with yourself isn’t enough. BJJ is also a sport that has weight classes, age classes, and skill level divisions for men, women, and children. There are divisions for everyone, so there is the option to get out there and try yourself in fair competition and represent your gym and teammates in the larger BJJ community. 

Constant improvement over time—even as we age: This is a big one for lifetime athletes. At some point—in your mid-to-late thirties or in your forties, your climb to better running times or more weight lifted is going to stall out. You may still have a high physical ability, but your recovery time becomes too slow to make big gains anymore, and you begin to shift into more of a maintenance mindset. Since much of an athlete’s progress in BJJ is through mental development, coordination in new movements, and fitting the system together as a puzzle, you will be getting better as long as you are actively training. A 50-year-old black belt version of you would destroy a purple-belt 45-year-old you, and that purple-belt 45-year-old you would destroy the beginning white-belt 37-year-old you. 

Personal Development

Forget New Year’s Resolutions—Make Lasting Change Instead

It is the time of the year in which friends and acquaintances are posting on social media about their new gym memberships, their new diets, and their plans for finding their passion in the next calendar year. The beginning of the year is a natural time for reflection on our choices and accomplishments in the last year and planning to better ourselves in the next year. Setting goals and evaluating our successes and failures is a healthy practice, and something we need to do to shape ourselves and our lives. New Year’s Resolutions, however, should not be a thing. 

Unhelpful New Year’s Resolutions

Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions because it’s something people around us do. It is a societal expectation to plan to improve ourselves at this time of year, and we are asked to spout out ideas about where we could be bettered. I have made many lists of New Year’s Resolutions, starting in elementary school as class projects. Over the years I have resolved (officially or unofficially) to get in better shape, to lift weights, to lose weight, to cook better meals, to eat more veggies, to find a way to make more friends, to be a better friend, to make more art, to read more books, to be more organized, to have less stuff, to put laundry away after I fold it, to not make piles of junk on the countertops, to dress better, to spend less time online, to be a better partner to my husband, to be more present in the moment with my kids, and I could go on and on… Once you get on a roll listing the areas in which you would like to be “less” or “more” or “better”, it is easy keep going and generate a long list of your perceived failings. 

Let’s be honest—while we all could improve ourselves in countless areas, life is demanding and distracting. If the goal is lasting change that becomes your new reality, having a focused plan of attack is necessary for success. New Year’s Resolutions are not usually created with the level of planning needed to be successful, and are therefore just wishful thinking—like buying a PowerBall Lottery ticket and dreaming about the awesome vacations you could take with extended family and friends. Making long and/or vague lists of what to be better at but then not MAKING THOSE CHANGES HAPPEN is creating a dangerous pattern of failure.

Avoid Creating A Pattern of Failure

Creating a pattern of letting yourself down is easy to do—we are busy and it is too easy to say yes to too many things. For many of us, putting yourself last is the easy choice when we have a lot of responsibilities. We flake on ourselves. We give our time to others at the expense of our own goals. We spend too much time doing things that don’t enrich us or reward our long-term interests. Each time we do this, it reinforces a pattern of behavior that degrades our sense of caring for ourselves.

Say “No” to say “Yes” 

For many of us—this is a big one for me, personally—making the space in my life to say yes to the things I want work on requires me to say “no” to other things that I do not feel invested in.  I have to protect the time I spend on my hobbies from my responsibilities. I study, practice, and teach Brazilian JiuJitsu, and in order to have the time I want to spend working on that hobby, I have to say no to other things. I have to work ahead with my responsibilities to have class evenings free. I schedule social events and doctor’s appointments around class times so I can attend. I prep food for the family for the week on the weekend to free me up and still have decent food to eat. If I didn’t plan to be successful and only made it to class when life didn’t get in the way, I would never be free to go. 

Surround Yourself With Success

Successful people are often successful in many areas of their life. They have figured out the formula that works for them to set and accomplish their goals. Find the people who are successful in the areas in which you want to improve, and join their group! Most interests you could have will have a group you could join to support you and those there who are already successful can teach you what it takes to find your own success. From my own experience in my Brazilian JiuJitsu gym, those who come to class on a regular schedule—regardless of how many times per week they are able to make it—tend to stick around and make progress with hard work and perseverance.  They also tend to be successful in their other endeavors, having learned to manage their time and stick to long term goals.

We become like the people we surround ourselves with, so choose to be with people who support you in your efforts to become who you want to be. If your social circle does not support the person you are becoming, they are not good for you anymore. If your family isn’t supportive, they will always be family, but they can be family you see less frequently until they get on board. Hopefully, you will be developing new relationships as you work your path to successful change, and your new tribe will help push you. 

Make Lasting Change 

Rather than making a New Year’s Resolution or a few of them this year, make a plan of action to be successful. Pick a small change and see it through for a few weeks to create a pattern of success. Then build on that success by adding another small change, and then another. Protect your time by limiting the activities that do not reward you with change toward your goals. Work ahead with your responsibilities to make time for your new activities. Choose supportive and successful people to surround yourself with, to teach and help shape your beginning efforts. These actions will add up, and you will be well on your way to creating an avalanche of successes that is transformative. You will be on a roll and picking up steam to push yourself even harder.

Get Started!

Make calculated, lasting changes. They can start in January, just give them more attention and respect than society’s watered-down New Year’s Resolutions!

Brazilian JiuJitsu, Personal Development

My BJJ Journey

As a middle-aged homeschooling mom of three, on first glance I may not fit society’s expectation of a Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioner or instructor.  This is particularly true if people know that BJJ is a sweaty art and sport in which you wrestle against your opponent for positional dominance and work toward making them submit to joint locks and chokes. However, if these same people were to dive into the world of Brazilian JiuJitsu, they would find lots of people who may not fit their preconceived ideas about who populates the mats at the gyms around them. Our gym is made up of a wide cross-section of society; we span across generations, sexes, education levels, personalities, life stages, body types, races, and religions. There is a place for any interested person who is willing to work hard, be a good teammate, and put themselves out there to try something new. BJJ can fit many people’s abilities and needs, and while we all may have different goals, we rise together and support one another’s journey.

My interest in BJJ started 13 years ago in different city during the “lost years” of parenting babies. A friend of mine trained BJJ and asked me to join to partner with her, and I thought it sounded like something I would love. The time was not right for me then; my husband was in a demanding training program, my babies were little, and we were going to be moving away soon. The idea of training slid to the back of my mind, and life moved forward—we moved three more times, had a third child, and the kids grew up a little. I researched the BJJ options in Green Bay once we settled in, but I did not find a school that fit our needs at that time. A few years later, my oldest became interested in wrestling, and preferring BJJ to wrestling for her, I found that a new school had opened since I last checked. This school, Rilion Gracie JiuJitsu Green Bay under Professor Brady Buckman, would be where we found our gym home and began training as a family.

My kids began classes, and I was itching to start. Within a few months, all five of us were on the mats, spread over three class times. It was hard to make the time to get the younger two to the little kids’ class, the older to the big kids’ class, and my husband and I to the adult class a few times a week, but we put it on our weekly schedule and made it happen.

My observation in watching people start after me is that the students who continue training long-term are the ones who make a modest and consistent training schedule. This is what we did at first. We picked two time slots each week for each person and protected that time, making BJJ the default activity then, not interrupting that time unless necessary. My husband, oldest child, and I wanted to train more after starting to get the hang of what learning BJJ was all about, and we changed the schedule by adding time to allow that.  By the end of the first year, we were training on average three sessions per week.

At a year in, JiuJitsu was strongly capturing my attention. I knew enough to get my first glimpse of how vast and deep the field of knowledge was; a realization I have anew every now and then still, and will as long as I train. I knew enough to be able to have some minor successes in wrestling with my training partners, even the bigger men. I wasn’t “winning” against them frequently, in the most literal sense, but I was seeing myself perform some of the moves we learn in the right situations, and I was learning to escape and defend against my bigger partners.

My second year of training consisted of hours more of watching the kids’ classes, pitching in at the gym with minor tasks while waiting for my kids to train, success in a few competitions, and persistent training.  My blue belt promotion came around the end of my second year. As a blue belt, I began assisting with the kids’ classes, and under Brady’s wing I began learning how to teach, how to make safe choices for the students in their training, and I began to better understand how I need to study to learn BJJ more efficiently. I was now doing 5-6 classes per week, thanks to the addition of a few morning classes that my homeschool-mom schedule allowed.

By halfway through blue belt, I had progressed fairly quickly but was coming to an end of being able to just come to class and absorb what we were doing enough to progress at a rate I was happy with. A frustrating plateau in my progress encouraged me to buckle down harder and again learn how to learn BJJ, this time for the level I was wanting to achieve next, which was purple belt. I made notecards, wrote classes out, and diagrammed flow charts. I tried to move more efficiently and smoothly and connect moves in ways new to me, and to be more assertive with attacking. I had to learn to take the floaty information in my ADHD brain and make it connect in a way I could access it both to relay to other students while teaching, and apply it when rolling. I expect many rounds of re-learning how to learn, and trying to bust though plateaus as my JiuJitsu pathway unfolds in the future.

Just before earning my purple belt, our gym’s class schedule shifted, and I took on a greater role in instruction. The morning classes became mine to teach, I took over a few of the kids’ classes, and started a women’s only class. I have found that I love teaching. I enjoy taking my understanding of BJJ and rolling it around in my mind to find how to best relay it to other students. I love being able to share something that I get so much enjoyment from with others, and to help them piece it together. Teaching also helps me improve my own game by examining my knowledge from different angles and troubleshooting for my teammates.

In May of 2018 I was awarded my purple belt from Brady, and I am working hard to continue my learning and development as well as to become the best instructor I can be. I enjoy helping to provide a comfortable place for all students who are interested to come in and try Brazilian JiuJitsu. I am proud that my women’s class has brought in multiple women to try that may not have been comfortable doing so before, and that some have joined the gym and are beginning their own journey.

Brazilian JiuJitsu has enriched my life in many ways. It has given me a bolder voice for myself and more confidence in being assertive. I belong to a community at the gym who I love, trust, and value deeply. I appreciate that my family has a hobby we all share, and I particularly love that my teen daughter is my frequent training partner, giving us a bond like few other things could. I enjoy the mental and physical challenge jiujitsu offers, keeping me organized and fit. As a mother, I have developed an interest in my life that I am investing in for me, and I am showing my kids through my actions how to work hard, be gritty, have long term goals, and to keep working to chip away at them.

I can’t wait to see where else my BJJ journey takes me. It has been one of the most important things I have done for myself in my life.

Brazilian JiuJitsu, Rilion Gracie Green Bay

Links

Rilion Gracie Green Bay official gym website
www.riliongraciegreenbay.com

RELATED ARTICLES

From Psychology Today, The Psychology of Brazilian JiuJitsu
The Psychology of Brazilian JiuJitsu

From JiuJitsu Times, 5 Reasons Why Women Should Train JiuJitsu (That Aren’t for Self-Defense)
https://www.jiujitsutimes.com/bjj-for-women/

Rilion Gracie Green Bay

What to Expect in Your First Class

Prospective students are encouraged to come in and try a free class to see if Brazilian JiuJitsu is something you want to pursue, and if the gym environment is comfortable for you.  Generally, it is best to call or message to let the instructor know that you will be coming so they can be prepared for a new student. You should wear exercise shorts, tights, or capris for under your uniform pants, and a t-shirt that isn’t loose. Note that you will be leaning over a lot right in front of someone, so you may want to wear a higher-cut crew neck, and not a low-cut shirt.

When come for your first class, arrive at the gym 15 minutes before the start time. You will be greeted, and will be given a typical legal waiver form to fill out. Someone will find you a uniform (gi) to borrow for the class, and introduce you to the other students.

Classes are generally structured in the same way each day, with different techniques taught and practiced.

First, class will start with a light warmup and stretching. Don’t worry about being able to do all the movements or being in-shape enough to do everything. Just follow along as best as you can and do as much as you are comfortable doing. There is no need to “get in shape” before starting BJJ–most people get in shape by doing BJJ, not the other way around. Many students began by just doing what they can and their fitness fills in as they continue to come.

After the warmup, the instructor will demonstrate and explain the first of a few techniques chosen for class that day. We usually go through two to four moves each class. After watching the first demo, you will be partnered with someone who will be able to help you try the moves out, and you will drill the move back and forth. If at all possible, you will be paired with someone close to your size and with more experience, so she or he can help you understand what to do. If you know that you would prefer to partner with another woman, mention that to the instructor before class, and preferably during your initial call or message before attending–unless you are attending the women’s class (no problem there!). We nearly always have women in the regular co-ed classes who would be happy to partner with you, but can make sure someone is there for you if we know ahead of time.

Most classes have a time at the end in which the students “roll”, or wrestle. This is jiujitsu’s sparring, and can be thought about like a lab after a lecture in school. It is time to try to apply what was learned on a resisting partner, which is a vital part of learning BJJ. Brand new students with no grappling experience do not generally start to wrestle for a few months. At our gym, we have students wait until they know a few moves from most of the positions before beginning to roll. This is so you can practice good technique, begin to develop proper responses, and not entrench bad habits. This sparring time is a part of the class that new students–especially people trying the class–should stay to watch. It the most fun part of BJJ for most practitioners, and will show you what you’ll be doing soon if you decide to join. You will likely see the moves you practiced in class used real-time against a resisting partner as the students try out “the move of the day”.

If you had fun and want to join the gym, just head back in for another class. You will get signed up, order a uniform or purchase one that is in stock, and start your BJJ journey. Welcome!!

Rilion Gracie Green Bay

About Rilion Gracie JiuJitsu Green Bay

Under black belt Professor Brady Buckman, our gym is steadily growing and always welcoming new students. Brady has been training Brazilian JiuJitsu for over 20 years, and opened Rilion Gracie Green Bay (RGGB) after moving back to town in 2011. Before returning to Green Bay, he lived in Miami, Florida and trained directly under Master Rilion Gracie, including weekly private instruction. Brady earned his black belt under Master Gracie in 2014, and continues his own development in the sport through training at our Green Bay gym and in Miami.

The culture of RGGB is one shaped by the idea of teammates helping each other to improve. Experienced students help newer students get their footing in the sport, and through balancing supportive teaching of new students and training with more advanced students, everyone improves together. As the level of the gym rises as a whole, everyone has a greater opportunity to improve their understanding and application of jiujitsu.

Students “roll”, or wrestle, to try out and refine the techniques they have learned in class on resisting partners. Generally, beginning students grow into this by first learning a framework of positions and moves for a few months. As people fill in their framework and know what to do in multiple situations, they begin to work with a partner in live rolling. In time, these sessions become more competitive, and is one of the ways a practitioner can evaluate their progress in the sport, and to determine what they need to work on to improve. Live sparring is a vital part of training in Brazilian JiuJitsu.

Competition is a part of some students’ jiujitsu experience, and regional competitions are available at every belt level for students who choose to compete. Our students have had success in competition, but participation is not required.

We also have many families who train together. There are sibling groups in the kids’ class, and parents who train in the adult classes. The family-friendly atmosphere is comfortable and accommodating, allowing families to share a hobby and develop skills together.

Rilion Gracie JiuJitsu Green Bay is located in Green Bay, WI at 425 S. Military Avenue near the intersection of W. Mason Street. We offer fifteen classes per week for kids and adults. Membership includes unlimited classes for the month. Adults are invited to also attend kickboxing class, which is included in membership along with BJJ classes.

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