Common Questions

What is the difference between BJJ and other Martial Arts?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is primarily a ground-fighting art. Most techniques involve both fighters on the mat. There is a heavy emphasis on positional strategy, which is about which fighter is on top, and where each person’s legs are. Positions are stable situations, from which a large variety of techniques are available to both fighters.

The primary positions include:

Guard: The person applying the guard is on the bottom with his back on the ground; his legs are wrapped around his opponent’s hips (who is said to be “in the guard”).

Side control: Chest-on-chest but without the legs being entangled.

Mount: On top of his opponent (who “is mounted”), sitting on his chest, with one leg on either side of his torso.

Back mount: Behind his opponent, with his feet hooked around his opponent’s hips and upper thighs.Specific techniques taught are designed either to improve one’s position (for example, to “pass the guard”, by going from being “in the guard” to getting around the opponent’s legs, resulting in side control); or else as a finishing submissions. Most submissions are either chokes (cutting off the blood supply to the brain) or arm locks (hyperextending the elbow, or twisting the shoulder).

Belt ranks start at white belt, and progress through blue, purple, brown, and then black. It generally takes about two – three years of training multiple times per week to be promoted to the next belt rank. However, there is no formal rank test. Instead, rank is about the ability to apply jiu-jitsu techniques in a competitive match. A student generally needs to be able to reliably defeat most other students at a given rank in order to be promoted to the next rank.

Given the jiu-jitsu roots, and the interest in competition, often related techniques are taught. In each case, other specific martial arts focus on these sets of techniques more than BJJ, and they generally just receive passing mention and rare practice in BJJ training. For example, takedowns tend to be similar to Judo and western wrestling; leg locks derived from Sambo etc. Some schools teach street self-defense or weapon defense as well; this instruction tends to be much more like old-style Japanese jiu-jitsu with partner practice, and rarely impacts the day-to-day grappling training. Also, many dedicated BJJ students are also interested in MMA competition, and practice their techniques without a gi, with adding striking from boxing or Muay Thai.

What type of shape do I need to be in?

It doesn’t matter. People come in to train for all sorts of reasons. From loosing weight or gaining muscle, to self defense, self confidence or just for fun. We have students of all sizes from 95 pounds to over 300 pounds. Students from 5 to 65 years old  you are never to old or young to start enjoying BJJ. We have both men and women training. All you need is a positive attitude, no ego, and the will to work hard!

This looks rough! Will I get hurt?

Almost everyone is a little nervous when they are walking into a martial arts studio for the first time. Then, when you first walk in the door and see all these people trying to choke and armlock each other you think, “Ok… maybe this isn’t for me!!!”Ok relax… Not to worry! When we have a beginner start training, they go through a specific process designed to expose them very slowly to BJJ or Kickboxing. It is a step-by-step process in which the beginner student is taught the basic fundamentals.

For example, in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a new student starts by learning one basic position from the top and the correlating position on the bottom. They learn why this position is effective and how to hold it and move with it. When the rest of the class starts sparring they are not thrown in to wrestle with everyone. Instead they just start wrestling only the position they have been working on, if they loose the position they start back over. When positional training, students learn to pace themselves and focus on thinking their way through the technique rather than just trying to win. At this pace, both students are able to get a better understanding of that position.So if you are hesitating because it looks too rough or intimidating just take a deep breath and come try one class out. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to start then it might look!