Top five Steps for starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Step 1. Research
Do research on nearby Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) academies. Start with the three closest BJJ schools. Look at their websites to ensure they have a beginner or fundamentals program. Some Jiu Jitsu schools may not have a fundamentals class and they’re going to lump you in with the advance students. This can be good or bad. I make all my new students take the fundamental classes, it will teach you the basics and get you up to speed before jumping into the advanced classes. I also encourage all of my upper belts from white to black belt to take the fundamentals classes. NO ONE can ever drill a position to much.
The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is the governing body for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu worldwide. While conducting your research see which schools are a member of the IBJJF or if their instructors are ranked under the IBJJF. If you have any interest in competing in Jiu Jitsu you will need a certified IBJJF Black Belt to sign for you when entering their tournaments. Don’t get me wrong, the IBJJF is not the only tournament game in town. There plenty of other great tournaments like NAGA, Grapplers Quest, US Grappling and The Good Fight you can just sign up for and compete without any one vouching for you. However, the IBJJF tournaments are the most prestigious, and recognized internationally.
Now that you have located a few schools and done some basic online homework you will want to call or email your choices. The owner or employee should return your message within 24 hours. Remember this is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school and not a Fortune 500 company, although a quick response and stellar customer service should happen. Just keep in mind, a lot of these schools are run by one or two people, so some things can slip through the cracks. This could serve as a warning sign the school has some issues with leadership and professionalism. You may get lucky and find both fantastic Jiu Jitsu and great professionalism on your first try, but don’t count on it. I recommend you make your decision based on the skill of the instructors and the professionalism of the staff, not one or the other.
This is the part you’ve all been waiting for. Taking the tour! At this point you should have been asked by the staff to come in and check out the school. If the staff was hesitant to tell you the prices over the phone, don’t worry, this is just a normal sales tactic used by most businesses. Still go and find out for yourself if this is the BJJ school for you. Once the appointment has been made make sure to be on time, bring a change of clothes and some water with you. I tell people to wear shorts and a tee shirt. Upon arrival look at the facility during your tour and ask yourself the following questions:
* Is it clean?
* Do they have separate men’s and women’s changing rooms?
* Are the mats and equipment clean, safe, and up to date?
* Are there holes in the walls or mats?
If they have a cage:
* Does it have rubberized fencing?
* Are all the post, joints, and handles covered with protective padding?
* Are the mats thick and made for takedowns?
Once you’ve completed the tour, ask yourself again: Is there a professional attitude? If not, is it unsafe, or just a lack of business skills. Both can be a red flag, but you can look over a lack of business skills. If you feel the school is unsafe LEAVE AT ONCE! Safety can never be over looked or under emphasize.
After your initial tour is over, a professional school will teach you a private lesson. I like this because you will learn without the pressure of others watching. You may also be asked to join the regular class. This can mean one of two things… If they have you try a “fundamental” class and allow you to do some drills, basic technique, while you interact with other students, that’s great and nothing to worry about. If on the other hand they throw you to the wolves and make you spar or as many BJJ schools call it “roll” with other students, this may not be the place for you. I would decline to roll until you have more familiarity with the basic Jiu Jitsu positions.
Lastly, talk to the other students. Ask them what their feelings are about how the classes go?
What’s the environment of the school, is it a competition school or a family-friendly school, or both?
Some other questions to ask include… Are they happy? Is the place safe? Is there anything they don’t like?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can change your life; it changed mine and almost everyone I know that trains. It is a lifestyle and journey. Make sure to sign up for the news updates and receive your free “top three BJJ drills”. Keep an eye out for part two of the top five steps for starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu next week; we’ll get into some exciting and important stuff