I’ve been asked a number of times about what happens at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) class. I thought I could provide a quick summary of what I’ve learned so far.
Show up early. When you get there early, you can assist in getting the space ready for the class. For us, this means rolling out and positioning the mats. It’s also a great time to get to know the other club members.
Don’t come late or the instructor can refuse to let you take the class or enforce a penalty, such as a number of pushups, situps or both. Not only is this about showing respect for your instructor and classmates, it’s also about getting you warmed up in the shortest amount of time as you may have missed some or all of the class warm up.
When everyone has their kit on we are ready to get started. The typical format, as far as I can see it, is:
1 Warm up
2 Teaching with demonstrations
3 Light (flow) rolling
4 Scenario sparring
6 Cool down and stretch
In item 2, the instructor will select a peer of similar height and weight and talk through a particular technique. Whilst demonstrating it, you can ask questions. Once the technique has been sufficiently covered the instructor counts 1,2,3 and everybody claps in time. This signifies the end of the demonstration and at this point, you partner up again with someone that’s the same height and weight and get to try it out for yourself.
While practising the technique with your partner, the instructor will walk the room offering help, answering further questions and perhaps demonstrating again if he feels that there is an issue with a part of the technique that most students have missed.
Depending on time, items 3 and 4 may be left out. But I like 3 and 4. Flow rolling means that you are essentially leading each other through guard passing and techniques that need to be rehearsed. Don’t resist movement. It’s a flowing continuous spar. If a submission is available, show by demonstration that you could have exploited it but make the point physically and get back into the flow.
Scenario sparring, in item 4, is where the instructor calls out a position to start from and the students find a partner and assume this position, for example, back or side control. When the timer starts the student in guard needs to pass or escape the position he is in before the other student can move from guard to submission.
You should be well and truly warmed up by now. Both physically and mentally. The move to sparring for a white belt is hard. This is where your technique is really tested. Rather than just slowly walking through exercises, you now have to compete against your classmate who is also trying to complete one of the techniques he or she knows. This is exhausting. The work rate is upped and at a low belt level, drains your energy. The key lesson here is how to preserve your energy. A very important skill for the BJJ practitioner.
Once time is up, then instructor calls everyone to line up in rows and the cooldown begins. This consists of stretches and yoga poses to loosen up strained muscles and get your body temperature down. It is essential to slow your heart rate before leaving the room. Once this is complete, there may be club announcements and then it’s the circular walk of the mat to bow, shake hands or man hug everyone in the class as a mark of respect for your classmates.
Go home and enjoy the endorphins!
This post is based on my fifth lesson at Mathouse BJJ in Reading. A Roger Gracie Academy.