I get it. You want to give BJJ a try but you are still not sure whether it is the right fit for you. Even after I told you that you can have a free trial before actually signing up, you are still hesitating because you do not know what waits for you in there..
Well, to cast away all of your doubts of actually trying it out, let me explain to you what a typical BJJ class is like based on my experience training it for almost a year now.
First of all, you do not need to worry about any requirements of having martial arts or self defense experiences before you start nor should you think too much about your fitness level. Regardless of your prior training background, anyone can join a BJJ gym with zero experience and zero fitness because the point of joining is to make the better version of yourself.
Secondly, make sure that you are properly equipped before your free trial. What I mean by this is that you should at least wear proper sports attire (eg; running shirts and shorts) that allow you to move freely (if you already have trained martial arts that use gis, such as karate, you can always bring it for a trial), make sure to smell good because you are going to grapple with a stranger, and trim your nails so you do not scratch anyone else’s skin.
I think I do not need to tell you to be polite and introduce yourself to the instructor and shake hands with the rest of the class because this is probably common sense but yeah, if you are wondering, you should do this too.
Now, I cannot speak for all BJJ gyms because I have been training exclusively at Arena MMA Jakarta, which is under Alliance Jiu Jitsu Indonesia, but I had, for several times, tried out classes at other BJJ gyms during the weekends because I missed classes and basically BJJ gyms follow the same class format.
To begin the class, the instructor will stand in front of the students, who will line up from the highest belt rank to the lowest from left to right. If you are on a free trial, you will stand at the end of the line after the last white belt. The instructor and the students will bow down to each other and say “oss” thus the class starts.
The class begins with a 5-minute dynamic warmup consisting of moves you will typically do in BJJ technique. Each gym has different warmup set but you can expect to at least do this exercises: bear walk, crab walk, front roll, back roll, wrestling stance-sprawl, hip escape (shrimping) and break-fall-technical-stand-up. If these terms confuse you, do not worry because I have linked links to Youtube videos showing how each of them looks like. Do not worry about keeping up with the other students if you are struggling with these moves. They will help you and wait for you until you complete your set. A good BJJ class consists of students who encourage one another, even to the new guy.
After the warm up, the instructor will show you a technique with different potential chain of reactions from your opponent/training partner and how you should deal with these. There is no separation in a class. All students from white belts to the highest ranking one will train the same technique. Here, for example, Alliance Jiu Jitsu black belt Prof. Deddy Wigraha shows the Danaher triangle submission for his students.
After a technique is shown, you will drill it with a partner. If you are the new guy, you will be partnered up with a senior student who will guide you through the technique if you are confused mid-drill. Each drill usually consists between six to ten repetitions and then you will switch roles with your partner. At times, a drill is timed and not based on repetitions.
After the drilling session is finished, you can choose to participate in something called specific training, which is basically a two to three-minute round sparring session that starts with the starting position shown in the technique and has a certain goal assigned.
For example; if you are training half guard, then the instructor might assign for the guy in the bottom to sweep or submit the guy on top and the guy on top has a goal to pass the guard to a dominant position. Once one of you achieve the goal, you and your partner will restart your position and then switch roles to do it again once the first round is up.
After specific training is completed, the instructor usually allows students to do free rolling (sparring) for about five to six minutes before the class is closed. The closure of the class is the same with the beginning. Students will fix their gi to look proper and will line up to face the instructor to once again bow down and say “oss”.
After the class is closed, my gym usually has a photo session and after this, students are free to do whatever they want in class in the context of BJJ, such as doing rounds of free rolls, asking coaches or instructor about certain technique they have not yet understand or just sitting around and chat to have a rest.
I encourage you to try out specific training and the free roll even you are completely new and are just on a free trial to really get a feel of what BJJ is like in real life situation. Some students will roll with you harder but this is just the way it is.
The sparring is probably the best time to decide whether you want to continue training in BJJ or not. I personally jumped right in during my first class. I got smashed and submitted at least a dozen times in less than five minutes but I found out that I loved the adrenaline rush and the overall feeling that I got.
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