What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that focuses on groundwork. A skilled BJJ student should have a solid understanding of how to put their partner on the ground (throws and takedowns), how to establish a dominant position once on the ground (pins) and finally, how to bring things to a close with a joint lock or choke (submissions). 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) learned JJJ and in 1882 founded an art called Judo – which consisted of mostly throws and locks. Kano then decided to make Judo a sport – and thus removed all techniques he deemed unsafe that he felt 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, went to Brazil in 1914 and taught Judo there. One of his students Carlos Gracie. Carlos took what he learned from Maeda and with the help of his brother Helio, 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 how to control and subdue a single opponent on 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 means the skills gained in BJJ 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 is called a tap. To tap, you can physically tap on your partner with a hand, tap the mat with a hand, tap the mat with a foot, or verbally say the word “tap”. The idea behind this is to acknowledge a dangerous attack that would cause serious damage 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. We’ve got Gi jackets you can borrow. 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. Gaining skill 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 partner with. As the saying goes: a rising tide lifts all boats.
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?
More questions? Email me at