BJJ ( Brazilian JiuJitsu) is a grappling style that grew out of judo. It emphasizes fighting on the ground, specifically how to reach a controlling position, then finishing with a choke or joint lock (there are no strikes). Sparring is a major part of training, and ranking is normally based on performance.
This also means that competitions are a central part of BJJ, with some schools taking into account competitive success when grading students. However, it is certainly not compulsory: many people choose not to compete.
For your first class any kind of basic athletic wear will do provided that the pants do not have zippers, pockets or belt loops. Eventually you should wear the standard training uniform, referred to a ‘gi’. This consists of a jacket and trousers (typically cotton), designed to cope with the strain of being twisted and yanked. It also comes with a belt, to tie the jacket closed: for your first class, this will of course be a white belt.
Alternatively, you may decide you’d prefer to go to what’s called a ‘no-gi’ class. As the name suggests, this type of training is done without a gi. That means a t-shirt and shorts is fine, or better, a rash-guard and shorts.
Additionally please remove any jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings as those provide a risk of scratches and cuts, as well as more serious injuries.
A typical class at Apex for adults follows the below pattern:
During the warmup/technique review period you have the opportunity to go over the material that you'll be drilling for the day as well as warmup prior to class. There is a recommended warmup for new students which you will learn in your first few classes.
The Drilling portion if class is where the major amount of work is done. It consists of eight 4 minute periods with a brief break in between each one, and a longer Question and Answer session between the first 4 and the second 4.
Specific Sparring is similar to drilling, but with fewer restrictions on your partners reactions and your own responses, as well as somewhat higher intensity. This period will be directly related to the drilling you were working on previously.
Live rolling is simply a progression from the Specific Sparring where all of the restrictions on you and your partner are removed (within the rules of the sport) and you work starting from a neutral standing position with the goal of submitting each other using whatever skills you have available to you.
Youth classes at Apex follow a more 'traditional' instructor led class format as follows:
Our youth programs are focused first on building the ability to execute the fundamental movements of Jiu Jitsu, build body awareness, and provide the ability to control another person on the ground effectively and safely. As such our youth programs do not do live rolling in the standard class, live rolling is reserved for the youth competition class.
It must be understood that there is a significant psychological difference between striking and grappling for a young child. Striking implies far more violence and anger; and the immediate emotional response to being struck will vary greatly from child to child. Striking is something that a child learns to do out of anger long before they learn to walk or talk. Striking is a primal, animal reaction to a negative stimulus, and as such will require far more emotional maturity before it can be instructed properly. Getting hit pretty much always hurts, whereas grappling tends only to hurt when a mistake is made. Pain avoidance is the average American child’s primary subconscious drive. If something hurts, most children under 10 will avoid it at all costs.
Young children adjust to grappling long before they can adapt psychologically to striking. Children invariably begin wrestling without the guidance of adults as a recreational activity anyway, so providing technique and structure for it is a fairly natural progression.
Additionally with the increasing awareness of the dangers of head trauma, even sub-concussive head trauma and its relation to CTE a grappling sport provides a much safer way of providing a child with both an effective means of defending him or herself and an enjoyable form of exercise.
Your gear should be washed after every training session. I wash all of mine on hot and dry it on medium heat the first few times, then on high heat after that. Some Gis will shrink if you dry them on high heat, so be aware of that risk.
1. shower as soon as possible after training to prevent the development of skin infections like ringworm or staph. These infections are uncommon but they do happen.
2. Trim your finger and toe nails regularly. Long nails can cause cuts and scratches on your partners which are quite painful and increase the risk of skin infections.
3. Do not walk into the bathrooms with bare feet, do not walk onto the mats with shoes.
For a more in-depth FAQ regarding the history of BJJ please visit my friends at Artemis BJJ who have written a VERY comprehensive one.