What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and grappling sport that arose from early judo during the 1920’s. Refined and adapted over the years, BJJ utilises techniques that control an opponent on the ground in order to apply submission techniques (eg joint locks). The beauty of the system is that through the use of correct technique, a smaller yet skilled individual can control and submit a much larger yet less skilled person.
BJJ is a pressure tested martial art and sparring is the key component of the system where participants can test their skills against a fully resisting partner. Although sparring is challenging (and most beginners will spend the majority of their time trying to escape from certain positions) it is a perfectly safe activity. If at any moment a submission technique appears to be inescapable, the tap rule comes into play (the losing partner must tap their partner’s body or emit a verbal tap to signify defeat). There are no strikes or kicks allowed. Read more and see videos on the topic of sparring here.
What Can I expect in a typical class?
A typical class begins with a warm up routine featuring movements and drills that are a fundamental component of BJJ techniques. This is followed by the technical portion of the class where you will learn and practice two or three techniques with a compliant partner. The final part of the class involves sparring against a resisting partner. We end with a stretch/warm down and brief overview of the techniques of the day.
Is it right for me?
As a martial art, BJJ offers something for everyone. For those who love problem solving, pitting your jiu jitsu wits against another skilled opponent is highly rewarding both physically and mentally. For those who just want to have fun and get a bit fitter, BJJ most certainly is great fun and sparring itself is a pretty decent cardio workout. In BJJ clubs all over the world, there are people of all ages, sizes and abilities taking part. Of course the only way to find out is for you to try a free class.
What shall I wear?
For your first couple of sessions, simple loose and comfortable sports top and track bottoms or shorts will do. Once you feel you wish to carry on then you will need to buy a BJJ ‘gi’ and a BJJ white belt (BJJ belts have a black rank bar). Coach Seymour can advise on this for you, but here are a couple of online stores that sell good quality uniforms:
Tatami Fightwear, Scramble, Meerkatsu.
What etiquette and rules should I know about?
BJJ training culture tends to be more relaxed than traditional martial art schools. But there are some rules. Briefly: no shoes on the mat, keep your personal hygiene clean and certainly stay away if you carry skin infections (BJJ involves lots of close body contact), when sparring it is vital to know when to tap, lower graded students move out of the way of higher graded students during sparring, please ask questions if you don’t understand something, when drilling a technique do the one ascribed by the instructor and not something different you saw on Youtube…
There are lots of other little common sense rules and observations you’ll pick up along the way which are all part and parcel of participating in a happy, productive training environment.
What if I get injured?
Injuries are sometimes an unfortunate consequence of any sporting activity and BJJ is no exception. Thankfully, with safe training practices and observance of rules, risks are minimal. [Read our Risk Assessment document here.] All regular students must have UKBJJA membership – their £15 membership fee includes individual member to member liability insurance, but you may also wish to extend your cover for personal injury. More details can be found on the UKBJJA website here.
When will I get my black belt?
BJJ is a performance based martial art. In most schools, there is no formal ‘grading’ examination to take. Instead, students are rewarded based on individual performance, growth and development under the observation of the coach. Beginners wear a white belt and are awarded up to four stripes until the instructor feels they are ready for their blue belt. Then comes purple belt, brown belt and black belt, with four stripes awarded in between each belt. On average, a person who trains consistently might receive their black belt with 8 to 10 years of consistent training.
What are children’s belt colours?
Children (under 16) who train BJJ are ranked with the following belt colours: white, grey (three stages), yellow (three stages), orange (three stages) then finally green (three stages). Kids progress by being awarded a stripe per belt colour, up to four stripes per belt. Progression is based on attendance, behaviour and improvement. For full details of kids belt ranking structure, see this IBJJF chart. Please note, there is no such rank as a junior black belt.
Can I compete?
You most certainly can. There are tournaments held throughout the UK every weekend. Every event is structured so that entrants compete against someone who is more or less their own belt colour, weight group, age bracket and gender. This means competition is a vibrant part of the BJJ student’s growth whether they are a beginner or an ageing black belt! On a larger scale, there are international competitions and professional prize tournaments that represent the elite of the sport.
Can I use BJJ to defend myself?
BJJ was originally devised as a fighting style. The theory was that an understanding of technique, leverage and positional dominance would favour that person if ever they were involved in a one on one fighting situation. During the 1990’s this idea was put to the test by Royce Gracie when he fought and won a series of ‘no rules’ matches against skilled fighters from other martial arts styles at the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). BJJ has since moved on and become an all-encompassing martial sport in its own right, with its own set of rules and contests. But the fundamental objective of pursuing technique, positional dominance and submissions to win over an opponent still exists today.
Great! how do I join?
Simply contact us in advance and let us know when you would like to visit.