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So You Want to Learn Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
Here are 5 Things You Need to Know About Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Before You Start Taking Classes or Lessons at a BJJ School
by Stephan Kesting, BJJ Black Belt, CSW Coach, Kajukenbo Black Belt, Instructor under Dan Inosanto, Published Author in Black Belt and Ultimate Grappling Magazines, and Instructor/Producer of the Grapplearts Instructional DVD Series
1 - Technique
There are a LOT of techniques in Brazilian jiu-jitsu - probably more than in any other martial art. In order to get good at groundfighting you will have to learn submissions, escapes, and transitions from every possible position.
All this information can be a little overwhelming at first. A valuable thing you can do right away is to develop a big picture of the art; don't get fixated by trying to memorize every technique you come across. A big picture will help you with goal setting, and figuring out which specific techniques you need to learn next. How to understand the overall ground game is extensively
2 - Repetition
I can't sugar coat it: many grappling movements are inherently complex, and often require each of your limbs to be doing a different task at the same time. It takes a while for newcomers to develop the sport-specific coordination required to be smooth and relaxed on the mats. The smart beginner combines repetition of specific techniques, with movement drills to develop sport-specific body awareness and coordination.
3 - Sparring
Learning how to apply the techniques you've learned against a resisting opponent in sparring is the very essence of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. Sparring doesn't always need to be an all-out dogfight, though - there are ways to structure your sparring so that it's safe and productive for both people.
To get good at Brazilian jiu-jitsu you need BOTH quality instruction, and good sparring. While you can make some headway by only sparring (without having any technical instruction), this is a short term strategy and will limit your long term growth in the art.
4 - Conditioning
Technique is important, but don 't let anybody fool you: strength, speed and endurance also matter. One of my instructors (Dan Inosanto) said it best, “If you are tired you’re not strong, if you are tired you’re not fast, if you’re tired you don’t have good technique, and if you’re tired you’re not even smart".
The outcome of two equally-skilled people sparring is often decided by conditioning. Any additional conditioning you do will help, but remember that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an incredible workout in itself and will improve your fitness even if you do nothing else.
5 - Strategy
As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has a lot of different techniques. A good strategy helps narrow down your choices, allowing you to react faster than you would if you had to evaluate about every possible technique individually. This means you avoid confusion and frustration when you spar.
Not only do you need a strategy when you spar, you also need a strategy when you're learning. If you have a strategy about what techniques to learn, and how to best practice those techniques, then you'll be way ahead of the pack. In fact, you'll learn BJJ at least twice as fast!
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