Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that focuses on groundwork and throws. A skilled BJJ student should have a solid understanding of how to put their partner on the ground (from standing), how to establish a dominant position once on the ground and finally (from that dominant position), how to bring things to a close with a submission (their partner willingly gives up because there is no other option left for them). In addition, they should know how to be thrown without being hurt, and how to recover from an inferior position.

What is the history of BJJ?
Unlike many other martial arts whose history is lost in the mists of legend and time, the history of BJJ is quite recent and clear. First there was Japanese Jiu-Jitsu (JJJ). Jiguro Kano (a Japanese martial artist active in the early 20th century) took JJJ as a starting point and developed an art called Judo – which consisted of mostly throws and locks. Kano also decided to make Judo a sport – and thus removed all techniques that could not be used on a fully resisting opponent at full speed.  The sport of Judo became very popular in Japan.

Kano sent out many students across the world to spread Judo. Mitsuyo Maeda, one of Kano’s emissaries, taught in Brazil – most notably to Carlos Gracie. Gracie took what he learned of Judo and created BJJ. During this transition, the art of BJJ became more focused on the ground fighting aspect of the arts and moved somewhat away from Judo’s focus on throws.

Why do you offer so many different martial arts?
We offer all these programs because we enjoy them all. Every art contributes to the larger picture that is martial arts. BJJ excels at teaching a student what to do if in a one on one conflict, things go to the ground.

I’m small. Can I still do BJJ?
Yes. Like all quality martial arts, the whole point of BJJ is to gain skills, strategies, and techniques that work against a bigger, stronger opponent. This doesn’t mean size and strength don’t matter (they do). It simply means that skill can be gained in BJJ and this skill can be translated into function on the mats against bigger opponent.

What is a submission?
A submission is a technique that forces your partner to admit the game is over – like putting someone in checkmate in a game of chess. Most  submissions in BJJ either involve manipulating a joint (like the elbow in the case of the arm bar) or a choke. The signal that you give your partner when they’ve got you in a submission and you feel like you cannot get out is called a tap. You either physically pat them with a hand, tap the mat with a hand (or foot) or you verbally say the word “tap”. The idea behind this is to acknowledge a dangerous attack that would cause serious damage (the armbar would break the elbow) before it actually does any damage. The practice of tapping out allows students to train injury free, as well as imparting the understanding of the difference between actual violence and martial arts training.  Be smart and tap early, way before it hurts.

Do I need a Uniform?
No. You can wear whatever you’re comfortable in. If, over time, you’d like to purchase a Gi, that’s great – they can take more abuse than a standard t-shirt. We recommend wearing long pants and a rash guard if you’ve got them, because this will help reduce mat burn. You’re welcome to wear grippy socks or wrestling shoes if you’d like to.

I’m just a beginner, can I do this stuff?
Yes. Everyone, by definition must start at the beginning. We’re here to help and to build good students. It will take time and patience, but if you persist, you will improve. It is in the community’s interest to see you improve, because the better you get, the more fun you’ll be to play BJJ with.

I hear BJJ is dangerous. Are there a lot of injuries?
Injuries happen in every sport. Our experience has been that more injuries occur when students get fixated on the idea of winning instead of learning. Focus on learning and winning will eventually come and injuries will hopefully stay away.

Do I have to compete in tournaments to be a student?
No, but you’re welcome to.

Is there a ranking system in BJJ?
Yes. There are five belt colors – white, blue, purple, brown and black. Each of the ranks has 4 stripes that measure progress within that rank (except black which has a maximum of 9 possible stripes).

Are there any hidden testing fees in your system?
No.

More questions? Email me at info@swportlandmartialarts.com