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How We Teach Jiu Jitsu To Beginners

A long time back, like when I started coaching as a mid twenties know-it-all, I was obsessed with what to teach. I would get DVDs and , oh no, VHS tapes of jiu Jitsu and wrestling moves and pore over them, trying to get the best techniques from the best instructors.

Later, when I realised that the WHAT changes like the weather, I became more interested in the HOW.

How do you teach someone a martial art? Someone who has never seen it, experienced it, doesn’t know the terminology, the movements, the postures. Here’s a thought experiment I’ve given to people.

You’re going to a Jai Alai class, first time ever. And someone hands you a weird banana shaped, em, thing, and says, okay, today we’re working on the right distance to the fronton. Let’s go!

What the hell…

You see first, someone would have to tell you that the banana shaped thing was your racket, basically, and the fronton was the wall in front of you that you played the ball against and…

Oh yeah, Jai Alai is a real sport, I haven’t just made that up.

You’d need the whole game explained to you, and it would be impossible to comprehend in one sitting. This is like Jiu Jitsu. The way we teach (and the way I have taught previously) was just to say okay the goal is to make the other guy tap, here’s the back control position, you’ll get it in the end.

And it’s true, everyone does get it in the end, but it’s not a great way of teaching. A better way is to break down the skills into individual classes, with drills and games that ONLY focus on the aspect you’re teaching. This is what our Foundations Course does.

We break it into manageable chunks. Tonight’s session, for example, is on the closed guard. You’ll work on the skills needed just for that position, and you’ll play live, short games that help you develop an understanding of it.

The pieces come together as you build it class by class. Another metaphor would be that you get handed a jigsaw one piece at a time, rather than have the whole box spilled out in front of you.

And it’s great fun. I have to emphasise that. It really is much more fun to learn this way. You’re enjoying it much more when you understand what you’re doing in each session, rather than having to figure it out as you go.

Foundations Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is on every week, 3 times a week, and it’s the culmination of 21 years of my own experience and education. Get in touch with us now to find out more.

See you on the mat!


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