First BJJ / Grappling Session

I remember reading an interview in Ultimate Grappling years ago with Ryron and Rener Gracie where they explain that a beginner should not feel totally exhausted from training the first couple of weeks.

I also remember thinking to myself that that was too soft. I filed it under “marketing” or “McDojoism” but I’ve come to change my mind recently.

I have a passion for the mat. I love stepping into the LABS and seeing my friends’ faces. I love putting the gi on and rolling and drilling. Most importantly, I love the way it makes me feel. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu makes me happy.

I spent an hour last Friday teaching my 14 year old brother the upa escape and a couple of mount maintenance techniques ala Gracie University. I had a great time and so did he (at least he said he did). He worked against progressive and suitable resistance and when I checked on him on Saturday, he wasn’t aching or too exhausted. He is asthmatic so I made a point to check that he was OK.

Yesterday, a completely new guy walked into the LABS. His name is John and it was the first time he'd ever stepped on a mat. Order of the day was Side Control Escapes. Martyn covered all the details of getting to a better survival position before working a number of escapes. He made sure everybody was on the same page and walked around the room correcting details during the drilling portion and ensured the resistance was progressive and suitable. It was an hour of work. Technical work, but work none the less.

I paired with John for the first couple of rounds and then he paired up with another player for the remainder of the session. He worked hard and struggled a little with the new geography, the long-forgotten muscles and the other usual suspects. He did, however, pull off a few moves against the appropriate resistance. What was the most important thing, however, was what he said after he got changed and was heading out of the door:

“See you all on Wednesday”

The magic is in the long-run and I’m in it for the magic.

I thank Allie and my brother for inspiring this post.

----Did You Like This Article?--- Click here to add The Part Time Grappler to your Favourites / Bookmarks ---------------------------------


G-Stamp said...

I could hardly walk after my first session (which was only 2.5 mos ago, so I remember it well!). I took two days off and hit the mats again. I was so sore, I could hardly walk for the first two weeks. In fact, I'm still very sore after every session, but less so each time. I figured that's just the way it should be. A friend of mine just started. He's 36. He's going through the same soreness that I went through. I don't know...I guess I'm part of the sink or swim mentality. I probably would have stuck with it if they forced me to go easy, but I doubt I would have become addicted as quickly as I did.

The Part Time Grappler said...

That's exactly what I'm saying G-stamp!

People like Helio Gracie when he first started. They are the people who need this the most. Not for (just) for self defence or whatever, but because it's such a wonderful addition to anyone's life. They are the ones who "sink" and that's so wrong IMO.

I've never seen a 30+yr, slightly overweight, asthmatic, unfit advocate of the sink-or-swim mentality :) and they are the ones who need it the most!

You hit it on the head when you said: "I'm still very sore after every session... I figured that's just the way it should be"

How many people work up the courage to go to a BJJ academy or club to finally do something to enrich their lives and then after 3-4 sessions decide "oh I think I need to get fit before I go back! This is killing me already!" and I think we all know how many of these end up coming back :) or even going on to get fit! Not many at all.

A.D. McClish said...

I understand what you are saying, Liam. At our school, though, we don't look at it quite the same way. When people come in brand new on their first day, they do get tapped. We don't try to hurt them or demoralize them, but we do tap dominate the roll and get submissions in a controlled way. Then, after the first few rolls, people start letting them work. Fabio has us do that for two reasons:

1. It shows them what real BJJ can do.

2. It shows them that they have a lot to learn and helps them to appreciate that others are letting them work, which prevents a lot of pride.

I know other schools might do things differently. But when I cam in and got tapped out a lot, I realized that BJJ was legitimate and I wanted in. What do you think about this kind of BJJ introduction?

The Part Time Grappler said...

There's a reason I love reading what you write Allie and that's your transparant honesty so here is my honest answer: you have a lovely school and you love it so whatever you guys do there has worked and is working for you.

I, however, think that the tool (live rolling, with control albeit) is not the best for the objective (the two points you outlined above) but more importantly I feel the objectives themselves are redundant.

If we still wanted to achieve these objectives we could easily give them mount, ask them to keep it and then do a perfectly text book mount escape. I've never ever ever met a beginner who can keep mount on me or on any of our blue belts or even more senior white belts. That shows the bredth and width of BJJ and how it applies leverage against size/strength and how it's relevant to real life. and also prevents pride getting involved.

Having said that, if a medium sized athletic man walks in and is paired up with a 140lb blue belt female and she needs to dominate the roll controllably and maybe get a tap or two, you'd be flat out lying if you said there was no ego on the line, on both sides :)

But remember, if it works for you then awesome! I'm all about the experience and that's how I live my life. I just don't think it's the best tool to introduce someone to BJJ.

Imagine you're hungry (have a need for something) in a foreign country (the academy) and you are trying to order food (learn skills) and everyone is talking a different language. No one is trying to humiliate you and no one is trying to hurt you. People are walking in, going to the counter and ordering lovely beautiful food and walking out with it in front of your hungry eyes (demonstrating that you have a lot to learn and what real BJJ is) and they are really enjoying it. You are smiling politely and you really appreciate that this is an awesome restaurant that obviously serves great really get that.

But unless someone approached you in broken english or at least a menu with pictures and went out of their way to explain one or two options to you (not too many!), chances are you'll leave that restaurant, go to McDonalds and never go back there again. You will tell people stories of the wonders you saw, but they will be nothing but stories my friend and I'm sure you agree that the word is not and can never be the thing :)