What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was born when Japanese master Mitsuyo Maeda came to Brazil in the 1910’s. With the aid of a wealthy businessman Gastao Gracie, Maeda was able to get established, and in return for his assistance, taught the art to his son Carlos Gracie, who then taught it to his brothers and sons.
How is It Different from Other Forms of Martial Arts?
BJJ differs from other martial arts in that it provides solutions for each stage of combat. Martial arts like Tae Kwon Do or Karate, for example, have a primary focus on hitting and relying on the practitioner’s strength and speed. These qualities, however, are not very helpful in certain situations, such as if you find yourself on your back. BJJ does not place a heavy reliance on these elements, and instead focuses in on leverage and developing a superior technique.
What is a Gi?
The gi, which is also sometimes called a kimono, is the standard uniform worn while practicing BJJ. It is comprised of a jacket, pants and belt. It is made of a durable material which can withstand the rigor of practice.
Is BJJ a Good Form of Exercise?
If your interest in martial arts lies with getting a good workout, BJJ is a great option. It is a quality form of aerobic exercise on many fronts. All the rolling in BJJ is a great form of resistance that can strengthen your core through intense abdominal work, tone your muscles and lower body fat. It is also great for improving coordination and balance, muscular endurance and cardiovascular capacity.
What are Some Good Tips for Beginners?
One of the first things you want to keep in mind is the importance of remaining relaxed while training. People new to BJJ put so much pressure on themselves with each spar, trying to hard not to lose, or use as much ‘oomph’ as possible to ensure a win. Don’t worry about winning or losing in class, save that for competitions. Don’t worry about getting tapped, just about improving your technique.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, you are paying to be there, and you have the right to get clarifications and ask for the assistance the teachers are there to provide. If you don’t understand something, or feel confused by a technique in drilling, speak up. Know that feedback is important for success in Jiu-Jitsu, so if you do want to optimize your technique, it is important to talk with your partner after a spar to get an idea of what you did that allowed them to overcome you. They are in a very good position to answer your questions about what you may be doing wrong. Try to stick with training partners whom you find knowledgeable and ‘connect’ with. Nothing can move your progress along like a good training partner. Maintain good hygiene. Wash your gi after every lesson. Consider getting more than one so you always have a clean one on hand. Sweaty, grappling sports like BJJ put you in contact with lots of potentially nasty bacteria, so always shower after practice. Keep your nails short so you don’t cut people.
Remember to be patient. BJJ is not an easy sport, and there are many white belts who bow out because they get frustrated they aren’t masters after a few months. You may lose a lot and that can be discouraging, but keep at it.