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понедельник, 18 мая 2009 г.

FAQ for beginners for BJJ and Judo

1. When can I start?

You can be of any age, it really does not matter. Of course both of these supports are contact sports and sparring, throws etc can and do lead to injuries. A good warm-up sessions is therefore important to prevent injury.

Most adult groups will have players aged between 18-35 but sometimes older players come. Some will have a background in other related martial arts like wrestling. Also people vary in their build and physical condition. You don't need to be amazingly strong or fit to start bjj. It is only if you wish to reach a high level and compete and it of course takes years to get there. Start small and focus on core techniques.

* - just check out Roger Gracie. He does not use fancy techniques but has amazing detail and submits everyone.


2. What do I need to start training?

For your first class you would need a gi/kimono available normally in white or blue. (in judo both colours are allowed, bjj practitioners also wear other colours). Also bring a towel and shower gel and flip-flops.

Other accessories you may want to purchase later may be

a) Gum Shield - good to take care of your teeth as minor accidents do happen and dentists are very expensive (and unpleasant!)

b) Head guard - you will see my earlier thread on cauliflower ear. If you don't have it then you probably don't need to worry about it, but if you get it and are concerned, this is the way to go to protect you ears from deformity.

c) Knee pads - very good as it is always good to take care of your knees. Bruises etc may result from falling on your knee (knees) or performing exercises involving knee contact.

d) Rash guards - always a good idea to have. They help prevent staph infection and reduce wear and tear of your gi. Good for both gi and no-gi training.

e) Shorts - you will need these for no-gi training.

f) Other accessories - shoulder support, ankle support. Depending the types of injuries you may have, these may be useful items.

You dont need any of this stuff for your first training session. Just come in track suit bottoms and a t-shirt. You'll find out whether you like it and then you can get a gi.


3. What does a typical BJJ or Judo Session look like?

A typical sessions can vary but normally is 1-2 hours long and involves:

a) Warm-up: some jogging followed by exercises focused to develop your cardio and strength.

b) Specific exercises: various exercises are used to practice break-falling and ground awareness. These include forward rolls, pulling yourself foward with your arms, etc

c) Instruction and practice: here the intstructor demostrates techniques which are then practiced by the students in pairs without full resistance.

d) Sparring (known as Randori in Judo): involves free grappling with each player exercising full strength to throw, submit or pin (only in Judo) the opponent. Sparring excludes striking, grabbing fingers or hair etc.

In Judo the rules are different with more emphasis on throws and no leg locks.

It is also worth mentioning that beginners tend to use all their strength to try to overcome their opponents where as the focus of the exercise is to use technique rather than brute strength.

A bow at the beginning and at the end of each session is included and in BJJ normally everyone just shakes each others hand at the end of the session.


4. Where can I find a school?

The easiest way to find a school is to look for the appropriate associate in your area. The Internet is a great source of information. Go to google maps and type in BJJ and almost certainly some BJJ academy will pop up in an area where you live if you are in the US or Brazil.

If you are not, of course type in brazilian jiu jitsu and your location.

When selecting a school you should look for what association it belongs to and who the teacher is. You want your teacher to be at least a purple belt (ideally brown belt and above) with the school preferrably affiliated with Gracie Barra, Gracie Humaita, Alliance or Carlsons. These are the four largest branches of jiu jitsu in the world today but there are other good schools that have been started by champions and stars like Renzo Gracie, Pablo Popovitch and many others.

The location of the school is also very important to keep you motivated. It is best to first visit your local school and get some first hand knowledge there before visiting other academies. Travelling far for your classes is can be demotivating but also you must enjoy the lessons. This is what keeps you going. It really takes years before you get anywhere in this sport, so you have to love it.

For a start, check out this link to official Gracie Barra schools. This is a list of the Gracie Barra schools around the world. Many of these have affiliate locations and it is worth looking at the websites and calling up the academy to find out more.


5. BJJ and Judo vs Other martial arts?

BJJ and Judo are extremely effective martial arts. They include both sports and self-defense elements and can be very effective when mastered. One proof of this have been Mixed Martial Arts competitions such as the UFC. Today almost every mixed martial arts fighter is well versed in judo or bjj or a similar art (Sambo, submission grappling).

First of all, judo and bjj are grappling arts. No striking is allowed and this makes them different to many striking arts like boxing, muay thai boxing, karate, kung fu etc

There is a self-defense section but mostly its a sport. This makes it very different to arts like aikido where partners practice in turn and don't offer resistance. In fact this competitive element is partly that makes judo/bjj so effective.

I would also mention that jiu jitsu/judo are rough sports. You can get injured but less than for example muay thai boxing. If you are strong and big, you have an advantage but it does not mean that if you are not strong or big you should not study the art.

In fact what makes bjj and judo stand out is that these arts allow a smaller fighter defeat a larger fighter by applying techniques. A great example is the triangle choke where a smaller guy on his back can defeat by using the most powerful parts of his body (namely his legs and hips) to defeat a much larger and stronger opponent.


6. Do I have to be fit?

Generally you don't need to be fit to come to your first class. You can be assured however that you will get fitter. I've seen overweight people lose 10-20 pounds within a matter of a few months.

As you progress and your training becomes more serious, you will require a good cardio system and good fitness level especially for competition. More serious judo clubs tend to have grueling training sessions with long sparring and tough cardio training.

The instructor normally determines the level of cardio training and this varies. Normally clubs that lessons that last only one hour don't focus on cardio but you really have to go and get a feel for the training yourself.

If you are struggling, speak to your instructor but I have not seen this to be a barrier to training anywhere.


7. Do I need to be strong to do judo and bjj?

Many people will tell you that you don't need to be strong for these martial arts. In my opinion if you are going to your first class, this will not matter but if you are going to a tournament and competing against strong and skilled adversaries than being strong will benefit your submissions.

Strong guys that start jiu jitsu or judo and try to use their strength are wasting energy and should really focus on understanding the basics. When I started, I did have the tendency to use excessive force in sparring but what really motivated me was the fact that skill is so important. When a much weaker opponent than I am could defeat me due to skill, this really impressed me.

Just focus on technique. Strength is important at certain times but also look at what your opponent is doing, analyze his weak positions and use your strength to attack when he is vulnerable and has exhausted himself.

8. Can I buy instructional materials to aid by bjj/judo training?

While you can't learn bjj or judo just by watching DVDs or reading books, you can aid your learning by making note of certain details or finding your favourite techniques which you want to perfect. In fact, the only way to learn is dedicating to mat time. Period.

What you can do though is set a goal for yourself of studying one technique per session or per week. Just get your DVD and then when you go sparring, just try to apply a technique you have seen. Ask your partner to let you apply it for practice. This will speed up your development but make sure this is not a detriment to your core programme that your instructor is teaching you.

For beginners I recommend: Roy Dean's Blue Belt Requirements DVD
Book Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Theory and Technique by Renzo & Royler Gracie, with Kid Peligro & John Danaher

For more experienced I recommend: Saulo Ribeiro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Revolution Series One and Two DVD Sets.

Saulo Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu University Book.

You can get these on Amazon.com, just click on the slideshow below.


9. Is there a difference between BJJ and Judo?

BJJ and Judo are two very different martial arts with a different focus.

Judo is a traditional martial art that originated in Japan and is very focused on throws although it gives the basics of groundwork and submissions as well. The rules are different with fighters scoring points by successfully carrying out a through making sure the opponent lands on his back.

Judo does not include leg locks and some other submissions common in BJJ on the ground but does count holds as decisive for victory.

BJJ on the other hand is a martial art that is focused on ground work and often includes elements of both gi and no gi. As you progress, leg locks and even wrist locks are included and you benefit from a very diverse curriculum on ground work which is extremely effective.

There are enormous benefits of combining Judo and BJJ to develop a great all round game. Judo will give you the gi takedowns you will need and BJJ the ground fighting skills to overcome and submit the opponent.

Many well known jiu jitsu fighters including Roger Gracie, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Xande Ribeiro have studied a great deal of Judo and used it in jiu jitsu competitions.

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