The picture above of lion cubs learning to fight a.k.a. playing is from a fantastic site. It just so happens to link into my story.
I saw a topic on the Cage Warriors Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Forum. The question was: Do you think specific beginners classes are necessary? and this was my reply:
I'm a softie. I believe there is a place for everyone in BJJ / Grappling and the reason someone should walk out and never come back is because they found something greater for them elsewhere, not because they were thrown in the deep end.
When I first started in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there were defined beginner classes but due to work commitment I couldn't make them. Karl was kind enough (after much begging and nagging on my behalf) to let me train in the advanced session on the condition that I told everyone I shook hands with that I'm completely new. I basically learnt to tap a lot. I also learnt how easy it is for a girl to tap a strong beginner.
Unfortunately, I also picked up a ton of bad grappling habits. Sink-or-swim has it's place, but if it's your first exposure to the water, you will develop bad swimming habits and that's true to BJJ / Grappling too. Habits you’ll need to, best case scenario, re-learn later on or may lead to your injury.
As soon as my schedule allowed, I started attending the beginner gi-classes and man...it took me months to re-programme my basic techniques like mount escapes and how to apply pressure from side control top. These are things that an instructor faced with 20-25 athletes couldn't possibly pick up on in an advanced session and it would be unfair to expect him/her to do so. Not to mention the stupid notions I developed like: "Yeah scissor sweep isn't really suitable for me!" No you daft idiot. I felt it wasn't suitable for me coz the advanced guys always caught me with foot locks coz I was doing the sweep wrong. No one had actually shown me how to properly do the sweep. I had just watched someone somewhere and missed out essential details. It had nothing with being tough or not. I just didn't know!
Sparring is what separates Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from all the crap out there and it’s what makes it real and alive. That doesn’t mean that the student have to free-spar from the first day, week or even month!
This is how you stay protected and somewhat safe under the mount.
Here is a mount escape.
Here is another.
Now go under his mount and try to stay protected while you go back and forth between the two while the top guy is trying to maintain position and maybe attack with a choke or maybe even an armlock.
That’s alive. That’s BJJ and it’s definitely suitable for anyone on their first day.
Will they learn something? Yes
Will it be something true, honest and useful within the whole of BJJ/MMA/No-gi? Yes
Will they work hard? Yes
Will the coach have time and space to drill properly and supervise the technique? Yes
Will the student come back? Maybe. Who knows! But if not, it won’t be because they didn’t feel they belong or the golden phrase “I think I need to go the gym/loose weight/work on my cv…etc. before I start doing this!”.
But like I said. That’s just me, and I’m a big softie.
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