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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the most popular martial arts or combat sports practiced in the world today, and with good reason.
The story of the origins and evolution of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are quite impressive, and the art continues to grow and expand
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms are much more common, especially in any decent sized city. Finding the best gyms in your area is pretty easy in the digital age. Following through and getting started training is the next hurdle.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very much a personalized martial art/sport in so many ways. Everything from the type of game you play to how often you train is really up to you. A good approach might be to do an assessment of where you are, and some goals on where you want to be in x amount of time.
Read on to get some ideas on putting together your own personal roadmap to starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Where Are You Starting From?
This is a very general, but important question to ask yourself when you start your journey into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Honestly assessing where you are starting from can give you an idea on how to structure your initial training routines.
Keep in mind: You don’t need to already be in shape to start training, and it’s never too late to start!
Like most art forms, and especially physical ones, fundamentals are built on the foundations of proper technique, form, and repetition. If you have a background in Wrestling, Judo, Karate, Boxing, or other combat sports Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will be very similar in the learning concepts.
If you’ve learned a skill this way before, even something less physically demanding like golfing or playing an instrument, you will probably have an easier time riding the early learning curve.
Your Current Age and Fitness Level
It cannot be overstated that you do not already have to be in great shape to start training BJJ.
I have been training for 7 years between a few different gyms, and I have seen men and women from ages up to 60 years old just getting started training BJJ. These same people are still training regularly years later.
I’ve watched people come into the gym 50lbs or more overweight with zero inherent athleticism trim themselves down and become serious grapplers.
Someone who is 18 years old and fresh from a high school wrestling program can expect to put in quite a bit more mat time starting out than someone who is 40 and has worked an office job their whole life.
While they are initially something to consider, your age and fitness are less a factor than you might think once you have a few years of mat time under your belt.
A few Things to Consider When Planning Your Training Regimen:
How Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Fit In To Your Lifestyle?
Married with children and a demanding professional job? Chain smoking bartender that burns the midnight oil? 20 year old video gamer who has never gone for a jog? Single mom with 2 kids?
I have trained with people in all of these situations, and many more nuanced and varied scenarios. That is one of the great things about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is that people from all walks of life fall in love with it.
There are not many places where lawyers, trash collectors, chefs, doctors, police officers, waitresses, and professional fighters will develop close friendships will regularly trying to dismantle each other.
Most schools have morning and night classes depending on the size, many have morning, afternoon, and night classes available.
Early on in BJJ your lifestyle will dictate how often you are able to train, but as many people progress they find that their training dictates their lifestyle. Like any other passion or hobby, you will make time to do what you love.
What Brings You To the Mat?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is many things to many people. Many people want to learn self defense. Some people want to become fighters. BJJ is simply a fun hobby for others.
There are endless paths that land someone at the door of an academy. I have trained with several people that have survived some physical or emotional trauma and find martial arts training therapeutic.
Whatever it is that initially draws you to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, most people find that practicing BJJ weaves itself into the fabric of their everyday life fairly quickly.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Everyone lives life at a different pace, and has vastly different careers and responsibilities. The amount of time you put in to being on the mat will directly translate into measurable progress, over a relative period of time.
Like countless others I’m sure, when I started training as a white belt I would wonder “How long does it take to get a Blue Belt?”
Most people say 1 to 3 years, but really a better answer is that you get your Blue Belt when you become a Blue Belt. If you train one day a week, but sometimes miss class because you have other commitments, or life gets in the way, or whatever, that can translate to 2 or 3 classes a month.
Imagine if you practiced playing the guitar only 2 or 3 hours per month. How long would it take to be able to play a full song? How long until you could write your own?
This is one of the most determining factors, more so than age or fitness: How much time do you have, and how much you are willing to dedicate to training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Getting The Most Out of Your Training
For the true beginner to combat sports and physical fitness, those with families and career responsibilities, and people wanting to start off slowly.
Take 2 Beginner classes a week in the early and latter part of the week so you are able to rest in between.
Expect to be very sore for the first couple weeks as your body builds new muscle fibers in uncommonly exercised muscle groups.
Start small and give yourself room to recover and process what you are learning. As you get more comfortable, add more classes.
For the person who is in relatively good shape and likes to push themselves a little further, or those who are able to devote a little more time to training.
Take 3 Fundamentals or Beginner classes a week, whenever you can fit them into your schedule for the first two months, and then assess if you’d like more or less.
Most classes run around an hour and a half, so putting in around 5 hours a week training is a good start for something that is new to you.
If your school offers a drilling class ( a class where students work on fine tuning their movements through repetitive drills, without instruction or sparring) I would add that on as a fourth class. In the early part of your training repetition is essential.
Also, start small and allow yourself to recover and process what is being learned. Take advantage of Open Mat times once or twice a month, building on that as you progress.
This would be for athletes, practitioners of other martial arts, those who plan to compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Take 4 to 5 Beginner classes a week as your scheduling permits. Most schools offer some Open Mat time for sparring or drilling; try to utilize that as well. Much of your improvements will come from drilling and experimenting on the mats with your training partners.
For those looking to soak up as much as possible, or people like me that become obsessed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu right away, 10 hours a week worth of classes are the norm, often more counting the Open Mat time and squeezing in a couple two-a-day sessions.
I highly recommend taking two days off per week, or at least make one day a light day and have one full off day. Overtraining always leads to injury.
Advice for Beginners operating at any Tier of training
- Listen to your body. Rest when you need it.
- Don’t skip two classes in a row just because you’re feeling lazy.
- Focus on learning not winning. Expect to lose, expect to get discouraged.
- Show up to class focused.
- Put some effort into the warmups. This is how you build the hardware for your operating system.
- It’s a marathon , not a sprint. Train accordingly.