This is an orientation guide to help beginners on their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey. Structured through a series of questions and answers. Click on the question to expand and view the answer.
If you’re doing a gi class, you wear a gi. This is the light jacket and pants that you see everyone else in at the gym! The jacket is held closed with the belt.
If you’re doing a no-gi class, you can wear shorts and a t-shirt, but dedicated no-gi practitioners often prefer to wear activewear (rashguard and leggings). These stay tight to the body and stops your opponent from grabbing onto your clothing accidentally.
If your child is between 4 and 10, they can wear a cheap cotton gi (with a belt, of course). If your child is a bit older, the techniques they’ll learn probably mean they should get a thicker and more durable gi like the gis that the coaches wear. We have a limited number of these gis for purchase at the gym, so ask Feby if you’re interested in these.
Gis can also be purchased from Fight Times, on Lower Stuart Street, beside the Law Courts.
We’re happy to loan you a gi for the time being, for free. But if you can purchase a gi, do try to – it helps the kids and yourself feel more ownership over their jiu-jitsu. At the very least, purchase your own belt, so that on grading day when we award stripes, we have something to put the stripe on! Either way, you need to be wearing a gi, whether your own or borrowed, when at class. (Unless of course you’re an adult and you’re attending the no-gi classes!)
Please remember though that if you borrow a gi, do not put it back on the shelf after you’ve worn it. It should go in the laundry basket in either the bathroom or in front of the shelf of loan gis.
Whether you are a child or an adult, everyone starts with a white belt. A white belt indicates that you are a beginner. In both the kids and adult belt system, you must earn the required number of stripes (also called degrees or tabs) on your current belt in order to earn a new belt. E.g. if you are an adult white belt, you must earn four stripes on your white belt before being promoted to blue. You earn a stripe by attending and successfully passing grading day. After the white belt level, the adult belt system and the kids’ belt system diverge. Very briefly, the kids’ belt system advances like this. The list below is organised from the most beginner to most advanced.
- Grey 1 (grey with white stripe)
- Grey 2 (solid grey)
- Grey 3 (grey with black stripe)
- Yellow 1 (yellow with white stripe)
- Yellow 2 (solid yellow)
- Yellow 3 (yellow with black stripe)
- Orange 1 (orange with white stripe)
- Orange 2 (solid orange)
- Orange 3 (orange with black stripe)
- Green 1 (green with white stripe)
- Green 2 (solid green)
- Green 3 (green with black stripe)
Once your child turns sixteen (and has earned the required number of stripes), their next coloured belt will be blue i.e. from then on they will be counted as an adult and will be promoted according to the adult belt system. That means if your child is currently a three-stripe Yellow 3, and straight after turns 16, their next belt will be Blue (i.e. they will not continue through to orange or green belts).
The adult belt system advances like this, from the most beginner to most advanced:
- Red / Black
- Red / White
Yes. But! Keep in mind that ‘compete’ is perhaps the wrong word for what happens on sports day. It is really an opportunity for you to apply your BJJ skills in a slightly more realistic situation. In addition, remember that on sports day, you are competing with your friends and classmates, not against a supervillain! And that the referee is there not just to award points, but also to prevent you or anyone else from getting injured. In particular, referees for the kids’ matches will stop a match well before there is any chance of injury occurring, or if the kids start to look upset.
The good thing about competing is that the more you do it, the better you get at it. In other words, competing more often allows you to build your resilience to challenges and pressure – a lifelong benefit of BJJ, and of competing.
Keep in mind that, to be promoted, you need to demonstrate what you’ve learned over the term and show good discipline and self-management, in accordance with the bushido code and our values (see below). For us, good discipline means:
- being able to stand still on your dot on the mat;
- following instructions when they are given;
- listening when spoken to;
- releasing your opponent from your hold/submission when they tap;
- and showing general good sportsmanship (not being overly aggressive, congratulating others on their successes, being respectful, etc).
It’s also important that you wear the correct uniform, including a belt. And you need to make sure you’ve attended at least once a week during term. (We’ll give you leeway for a missed week or so, but if you’ve missed half the term, you won’t have learned enough to be able to adequately demonstrate all the techniques required to pass grading.)
In regards to adults: It’s more likely that you haven’t attended quite enough classes yet to qualify for a new stripe or belt. If you’ve attended every week and you’re a white belt, you should be able to get a stripe every term. But if you’re blue belt or above, the time between promotions increases e.g. once you’re a blue belt, and if you attend every week, you’ll only be eligible for promotion every half year. In other words, you need to have completed a minimum number of classes and/or been training for a minimum amount of time in order to qualify for your next promotion.
Tapping out is when your opponent taps several times on either the mat or on you, with their hand or their foot. They can also literally say ‘Tap’. When your opponent taps out, you must immediately release your opponent. This is a fundamental rule of BJJ and must be followed, without exception. Continuing to hold on after your opponent taps may result in injury or unconsciousness, and will be viewed extremely negatively by the coaches.
Speaking of tapping out: when someone is practicing a technique on you, you should tap early and often. Don’t wait until you feel pain or until you start to go unconscious; tap as soon as you can feel that the technique has been properly applied. Remember, it’s just practice, not a match, and you lose nothing by tapping early (but you might lose brain cells or a working arm, shoulder, or knee if you don’t).
No-gi BJJ is BJJ done without a gi (hence the name!) The techniques are basically the same but obviously do not involve gripping or using the gi as a tool to help execute the techniques. So it requires slight adjustments to the techniques you learn in gi classes.
In addition, the no-gi classes, run by Coach Hamed, are less structured than the gi classes (which run along with a specific set curriculum, with each week building on the last). Often, Coach Hamed will just pick an interesting technique and spend the class workshopping and finetuning it. As such, if you’re a beginner, you might find it useful to go to the gi classes first, to get a good solid foundation in techniques, before you start going to no-gi classes and adjusting the techniques you’ve already learned.
- Honour (meiyo): Live according to your principles and carry out your responsibilities.
- Respect (rei): Show respect and courtesy when dealing with others.
- Integrity (gi): Commit to your decisions; do what you say you’re going to do.
- Courage (yuuki): Be willing to take risks, especially in order to do what is right.
- Honesty/sincerity (makoto): Be honest when dealing with others.
- Duty/loyalty (chuugi): Be responsible for and towards the others around you.
- Compassion/benevolence (jin): Help other people whenever you can, and show mercy.
- acknowledge and thank your training partners, who allow you to learn; and
- to show that there are no hard feelings in case of injury. Again, it’s part of bushido – showing care, responsibility, and compassion for others.
Yes. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is much more ground-based i.e. you spend much more time on the ground. In addition, historically some of its movements were combined with capoeira, a dance/martial art form from Brazil that incorporates smooth whirling movements.
In addition, Brazilian jiu-jitsu was developed into its modern form by the Gracie family, a famous dynasty of jiu-jitsu practitioners from Brazil.
(In case you’re interested, Prof Philip was taught BJJ by Mario Yokoyama, who was taught by Ryan Gracie, one of the grandchildren of Carlos Gracie, one of the original practitioners who developed modern BJJ. The original generation of Gracies was taught by Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese jiu-jitsu practitioner who emigrated to Brazil back in 1917.)
If you have questions about any administrative matters e.g. fees, timetables, buying gis or patches, etc, talk to Feby, the Administrator (or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you have questions about jiu-jitsu matters e.g. specific techniques, how to tie a belt, how do I compete better, etc, talk to Prof Philip or any of the coaches (Coach Hamed, who coaches the no-gi classes; Coach Matiu; and Coach Alex).
You can also message us via our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bjjdunedindojos or on Instagram