What do BJJ Lifestyle Team training sessions involve?

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. If I was thinking of beginning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I would be happier if I had an understanding of how I was going to be taught, what the expectation and demands might be on me and how the class might be structured. I’m going to make this a question and answer post, if anyone has further questions, please contact me through the ‘Contact Us’ page and I will be happy to answer.

Do I need to be very fit to train?

No. People that practice Jiu-Jitsu regularly, become much fitter through training. If you are worried about your physical condition, please consult a doctor before your first training session – but please don’t let your present physical state stop you from coming along. BJJ for me is as much about becoming healthier as it is about training.

What do I need to wear for my first training session?

If you have a Gi, bring it. If you don’t have a Gi, you can borrow one of the team Gi’s.

Will I be expected to buy a Gi and where can I get one?

Let’s make sure you want to continue training before you buy a Gi. If you enjoy training at Lifestyle Team you will be need to buy your own Gi. There are lots of companies selling Gi’s on-line – prices range from £60 – £110 for a good Gi. I have my own favourite Gi and will help you choose a good Gi if you want me to.

What colour Gi can I wear?

We allow white, blue and black Gi’s.

Is there a belt system and what belt will I be?

When you start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu you will be a White Belt. It takes a long time to receive belts in BJJ so you need to be prepared to be patient – there is a lot to learn and your ability is apparent because we spar with full resistance. If you train consistently, you will become more skillful and your success will be clear when sparring with others. Everyone can get there, but hard work and persistence are essential.

It took me 18 months to receive my Blue Belt – the second belt given in Jiu-Jitsu and it’s considered quite an achievement to get to this level. You will without question be considered no beginner on the ground. After the Blue Belt comes the Purple Belt – this is the first of the ‘big belts’. I started training in June 2006 and received my Purple Belt in August 2011 although I’m told it had been waiting for me for a while – but it gives you an idea. From Purple you are given your Brown Belt and finally, your Black Belt.

Likely timescales are White to Blue – 18 months to 2 years, depending on how hard and how often you train, Blue to Purple, at least another couple of years, Purple to Brown – the same again and Brown to Black Belt – probably another year, maybe more. But once you have all that skill and experience and enjoyed the journey, you’ll be a hell of a grappler and the holder of a belt that really is an incredible achievement – for many, one of a few lifetime achievements. Of course I would like to progress, but it’s not a race and when I finally get my black belt, I hope I will still have many years to proudly wear it!

Can I wear another team’s logo on my Gi? 

Fine if you want to try Lifestyle Team out – but if you want to train with us long-term, we would expect someone to become one of us. I am very keen to build a TEAM – and we will all be wearing Lifestyle Team patches. We want Lifestyle Team members to have a team identity.

Is there a warm up at the start of training sessions – how hard is the warm up?

Yes, there is a warm up, but it is designed to get us ‘warmed up’ – lightly sweating – we don’t punish people. I warm people up so that they feel relaxed and a little sweaty.

What happens after the warm up?

I teach one or two techniques. I show techniques as thoroughly as possible with lots of explanation and detail. Teaching is something I take great pleasure from and if you are in my class and interested, I will be extremely pleased to teach you. I am very patient, enjoy showing things many times and will never embarrass anybody. It’s a pleasure for me to teach and I want it to be enjoyable, comfortable and a pleasure for people to come to my classes.

Who will I practice the technique with?

You will practice the technique with a teammate, but will also have the opportunity to practice with me.

How many times will I practice the technique?

I will be expecting a strong work ethic during training sessions. I want everyone to make the most of our opportunity to train together. I won’t hide the fact that I want to make everyone as good as possible and time chatting when we could be working, is wasted time as far as I am concerned. I personally want to take my Jiu-Jitsu to the highest level I can and dream about being a very high level and technically difficult to deal with for anyone who spars with me. I am ambitious and have ambitions for everyone on the team, too.

What will happen if I don’t understand a technique or can’t get it?

Don’t worry, I have been there – everyone has ‘off’ nights and people learn in different ways. If you want to learn and are interested, I will have all the time in the world for you.

What is drilling? I’ve heard of it, do you drill at Lifestyle Team?

Drilling involves repeating techniques, movements, transitions (moving from one position to another) and building sequences into our training. I love drilling and believe it is one of the keys to success. I will build techniques up, linking them between sessions. Andre Galvao is a world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor who is Brazilian and lives in America. He believes drilling is so important, he has written a book called ‘Drill to Win’ – I subscribe to this philosophy of learning Jiu-Jitsu.

What happens after a technique has been taught and practiced?

After a technique has been practiced, we will either spar isolating the technique or put the technique into a sequence – both of which will be easy to perform and carefully explained. We will also practice positional sparring which will be very carefully explained and demonstrated.

What is sparring and how is it done? This is the bit I feel anxious about..

A lot of our sparring starts from a kneeling position. I will be pairing people up where I can, by weight. People that are much heavier, stronger and taller than those they spar with have an advantage. I will be trying to make sure that people are paired up within 5 kilos of each other. I have sparred with many people who have been 25 kilos heavier than me and it’s very difficult and can also lead to injuries.

The sparring lasts 6 minutes per match and we are likely to do several matches each per night, increasing the number we do as we become fitter and more experienced. We will also increase the number of matches we do if we are close to competing as a team at a competition.

The sparring will not involve strikes of any kind. I practice BJJ as a sport and for self defence and I teach submission only. In other words, we try to make each other give up by applying a choke or joint lock. When someone needs to give up because they can’t continue without risk of having their joint damaged or falling unconscious,  they will tap their training partner a couple of times to indicate they can’t continue. No violence or unsporting aggression is tolerated. If you want to learn MMA – you will need to find another club, we practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Will I be expected to compete at competitions?

If you would like to compete, you will be encouraged and I believe competing will provide us all with a deeper knowledge and understanding of Jiu-Jitsu. If you don’t want to compete – coming along and flying the Lifestyle Team flag would be really appreciated. There’s something for everybody and you can be just as big a part of the team without needing to compete.

What do I need to do to become a member and is there a contract?

You will need to complete an application form and a health questionnaire. There is no contract.

Will there be any training done standing up?

There is a competition focus at Lifestyle Team. All competitions require competitors to start from a standing position so we will do more training standing than most teams, however, we start a lot of our sparring sessions from the knees for a number of reasons. It can take time to bring the fight to the mat if standing and I want to maximise some of our 6 minute sparring sessions for groundwork only.