When one thinks of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or commonly known as BJJ, most minds would begin to summon images of UFC professionals grounding and pounding their way to victory. That’s a prevalent misnomer. Although it falls under the category of mixed martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu involves no striking or massive aerial throws and is almost entirely ground based, with the sole objective of “submitting” an opponent through various joint locks and chokes. Ironically, it is known as the “gentle art” because knowledge of its techniques flows naturally with your body movement, and against an assailant’s or competitor’s. The distinct study allows for a smaller person to defend himself against a more powerful aggressor with the tactful and artful use of holds, control and physical manipulation employing more of one’s own bodyweight rather than his or her strength.
From its Japanese origins, it was offered by Master Esai Maeda Koma to Gastao Gracie of Brazil in 1915, whose son, Carlos, honed the art form into the brilliant and ever evolving style it is today, with great emphasis on self respect, humility and camaraderie. Coming to our shores in the late 90’s, the BJJ scene has become quite the progressive one, with many legitimate schools emerging under the umbrella of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation of the Philippines (BJJFP) and sanctioned by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
What to Expect on Your First Class Interested? There are two types of BJJ training systems. One involves the use of a “Gi”, or a “Kimono” uniform, owing to the fact that they are more form-fitting than traditional styles; and No-Gi, wherein the participant may come into class with a T-Shirt and shorts, preferably a rash guard and board shorts to allow for more mobility, and a more secure fit. Men do not need to use protective groin cups. Both methods are equally enjoyable for the enthusiast, but note that the Gi style follows the belt grading system. Beginning at white, the student progresses to blue, purple, brown and black, with three stripes in between each belt before black. Black belts go up to the 8th degree until they reach the distinguished and exclusive red belt. About ten years of mastery or more is requisite to earn a prestigious black. Unlike some disciplines that dole them out like candy, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rankings are quite the premiere club.