Class overview

I have found an extremely well written piece on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that I think covers all the info you will need to help you start your journey in BJJ.
It was placed online by Alan “Gumby” Marques, Black Belt under Ralph Gracie and founder of OntheMat. Here is the link to the article >>

Q: What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

A: Probably the best description of what to expect in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been written by our friend John Danaher, from Renzo Gracie’s website:

“Brazilian jiu jitsu is a grappling-based martial art whose central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Brazilian jiu jitsu is centered round the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. To control and overcome greater size, strength and aggression with lesser size and strength is the keynote of the sport. This is done by utilizing superior leverage, grip and position upon your opponent. Students of the sport gain a deep understanding of the workings and limits of the human body. This knowledge can be used to subdue and control an opponent with whatever level of severity the student chooses. The path to this knowledge is physically and mentally demanding. Students benefit from greatly increased physical fitness, problem-solving ability, self-knowledge of their body and mind and the many social benefits of working within a large group of like-minded fellow students as you learn and have fun together.

Many students first learn about jiu jitsu through the great popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, where Brazilian jiu jitsu technique is very prominent. Indeed, the beginnings of the contemporary MMA competition were largely tied up with proving the combat-efficiency of Brazilian jiu jitsu . The practice of Brazilian jiu jitsu as a sport, however, is strongly separated from MMA. Daily classes do not feature kicking or punching. The focus is on safe grappling technique that can be done on a daily basis with no more fear of injury than any other contact sport.”

Q:  How does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu differ from Gracie Jiu Jitsu?

A:  The terms Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Gracie Jiu Jitsu are often used interchangeably, and no real enforceable guideline exists for a distinction between the two.

A Japanese judoka, prizefighter, and former member of the Kodokan named Mitsuyo Maeda, also known as Count Koma, emigrated to Brazil in the 1910s where a local influential businessman named Gastão Gracie helped him get established. In return for his aid, Maeda taught Jiu-Jitsu to Gastão’s son Carlos, who then taught the art to his brothers, including Hélio Gracie. Hélio had the opportunity to teach a class one day while Carlos was absent. He realized that most of the techniques could be adapted in a way to increase leverage therefore minimizing the force that needed to be exerted to execute the moves. Through Hélio’s experiments, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as we know it today was created.  Today, all Brazilian/Gracie Jiu Jitsu students can ultimately be traced back to the Gracie brothers.

While the basic techniques and terminology are basically the same, many instructors have their own individual styles or points they tend to emphasize in the art, even within the Gracie family themselves!  With the spread of Jiu Jitsu world wide, it is wise for the student to investigate the credentials of an instructor as well as a careful analysis of their teaching ability, as opposed to merely relying on a brand name.

GSW Instructor Geoff Grant received his BJJ Black Belt in November 2007 from John Will. John has been Geoff’s coach since 1995 when he first started training BJJ

Q:  How does the Belt Ranking System work in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

A:  For adult students, there are five levels of belts in order:  white, blue, purple, brown and black.  The normal time of progression between belts averages about 2-4 years, but is largely dependant on actual ability level as opposed to just time in the art.  Because of the long time in between ranking changes, some school also use a stripe system to give an indication of progress between belts.

After black belt, the degree system is 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, the brother Carlos, Gastao, Jorge, Oswaldo and Helio Gracie.

There are additional belt colors for children under the age of 16.

Q:  Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu really the most effective form of self-defense?

A:  No!  Your most effective form of self defense is to avoid being put in a bad situation in the first place.  In today’s world, even if you are the most highly trained fighter in the world, the safest thing to do is always to escape!

However, when all else fails and you can’t possibly escape the situation, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been proven time and time again to be among the most effective arts you can learn.  Why?  Three reasons:  Firstly, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specializes in the close quarter situations, especially the ground, where the defender may often be the most helpless.  Secondly, by use of leverage and technique, the user of Jiu Jitsu is taught to over ride strength and aggression.  And Finally Jiu Jitsu classes emphasize a lot of sparring and chance to use learned techniques against live opponents.  This is extremely important, because the lessons taught in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are often used in every session, so the student gets a quick sense of what works realistically or not!

Furthermore, time in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will undoubtedly give a student confidence and a positive self-image that will carry over to all aspects of their life.  Would be attackers are usually looking for easy victims, and students versed in Jiu Jitsu do not fall under that category and are often left well enough alone.

Q:  Now, about all that sparring in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

While we’re confident you will come to look at it as a bonus that you get to spar every class, we realize this can initially be more than a bit intimidating.  Part of the acquisition of knowledge is the practical application of it, and you can look at sparring as a laboratory to put your theories to the test.  Aside from which, we think sparring is really fun.

If you are new to the art, don’t worry, you will be eased into sparring and will spend time working with the instructor and more senior students who help guide you before you begin to spar with students of your own level.  While competitive, the strongest emphasis is always on student safety.

Sparring generally begins from the knees because that is where the majority of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques take place (and also on a busy class the mat may get crowded).  For those students seeking the extra challenge, sparring from standing and emphasizing competition is available.

Q:  What equipment do I need to begin training?

A:  For the Gi class, you will need a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu style gi.  We should have some available for sale at GSW, or you can check out a fine retailer like the OTM FightShop or www.OntheMat.com .  A Judo gi would would work as well, however be aware that because of the different cuts Judo uniforms are at a disadvantage in BJJ competitions (and BJJ gi’s are illegal in Judo competition).  Traditional martial arts gis are generally too thin and not designed to withstand the abuse typical in a BJJ class.  For consideration of others, please make sure your gi is clean.

Optional but recommended equipment would be a mouth guard and a protective cup.  It is also recommended that each student has their own supply of athletic tape.

Some students also opt to wear ear guards to protect against cauliflower ear, and *wrestling shoes. (*Lower Hutt school only)

Q:  Why is the Gi so important in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

A:  Traditionally, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu begins in the gi, and many instructors (ourselves included) feels that the use of the gi helps reinforce basic techniques because it slows the grappling game down somewhat and provides many more handles and opportunities for a skilled opponent to use against you.  It also believed that the gi simulates most of the self defense situations a students is likely to encounter (unless you happen to live in an area where people don’t typically wear clothes!)

Of course it is important to be understand the no gi version of BJJ as well, which has become increasing popular over the years, this is why we offer a no gi class at Heroes Martial Arts.  But truthfully, the expert grappler should be able to respond to any situation, no matter what your opponent happens to be wearing!

Q:  Is it true that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires no strength, and will allow a weaker opponent to overcome a stronger, more aggressive opponent?

A:  Yes, although we have to make a disclaimer here.  One of the fundamental principles of Jiu Jitsu is that proper technique and leverage is the most important part of gaining control of a fight, it is far from the only factor.  Natural athletic ability, strength, speed and even flexibility certainly does play a part for the successful grappler, but none of these attributes can replace or overcome the power that comes from technique.  Exactly how much natural ability technique can overcome, or what happens when you combine athletic ability with technique, is a big reason why even the best martial artists continue to train as hard as they do.

Q:  Is there any special preparation I can do to get in shape for training?

You should always consult your physician before starting at Heroes Martial Arts, or beginning any rigorous exercise program.  That being said, no workout program simulates and stimulates your body in preparation for grappling than like….grappling.  Exercises that promote endurance, flexibility and strength seem to be the best preparation/supplementation and grapplers are always looking to build upon their core strength.

The warm up exercises that begins each class contain an excellent sampling of exercises designed to improve your grappling ability and overall fitness that can be easily be performed in any setting.  But whatever your initial shape is, Heroes Martial Arts will work with you to get you in better overall fitness and health!

Class Structure:

BJJ Fundamentals Class: Note: Technical class has no open grappling.
The Beginners class for all new members and white belts.
Class breaks into partners based on size, weight and experience.
Drilling of specific skills or positions combined with learning and fine-tuning of specific techniques.

BJJ intermediate Class:
Class breaks into partners based on size, weight and experience.
Skills based session of general grappling to develop ones grappling skills and apply techniques learnt in “Fundamentals” class.

Warm down and revise the class.

Note: Access to intermediate classes is granted after at least one months training in the “Fundamentals” class.

Fees: $130 first month (includes $50 joining fee) Then $42.50 per fortnight for Unlimited classes, there are 10 classes per week making each class $1.75!.

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