A NEWCOMERS GUIDE TO THE BJJ WORLD
The routine of running an academy goes well beyond the mat, from staff to operations to marketing. The tracking of all that happens and needs to happen for a business to survive, sustain and flourish is, to say the least, somewhat time consuming. Yet, by isolating the aspect of the teaching and the mentoring of students (my favorite part) I can position myself from a vantage point to assist them in meeting their goals.
In my experience as an instructor, I have been able to assess different personalities, needs, and unique traits amongst my students. Needless to say that from a wide range of characters, I have the utmost admiration for the drive and effort from the female students. I have the honor to help them out with their Jiu-Jitsu journey. Some come shy, a bit intimidated at times, yet all hungry for the necessary knowledge of empowering themselves with the useful set of skills available to them in the art of Jiu-Jitsu.
Although many of them do their due diligence in making their research prior to joining a school, it is critical that they try a class, visit the location, and see for themselves what kind of environment they are about to get into. Although most schools will be friendly to newcomers, it is not always the case that there will be an established culture of how to properly train and care for one another. Especially when instructors make the training too hard from the very beginning. It takes time, proper form, and repetition to prevent injuries and fully optimize the gains and benefits of a work out program. That is why without a proper set of rules and the inception of a growth mentality, a gym will become a house of unfulfilled goals and shorten a student’s potential for sticking around long enough to reap the benefits so inherent to Jiu-Jitsu.
The same attention to safety and incremental progression in terms of training will set the divide whether a prospective female student will ultimately join a particular academy. That rule is equally applicable to male students, who as new members need the assurance of possibilities without liabilities when it comes to getting started. The intimidation factor of a brand new person walking thru the doors of a martial arts school cannot be overstated, but it will be exacerbated if at first glance all they see is a boot camp atmosphere of people running for their lives at every corner as a class is taking place.
Once the mood is set, friendly and open, safe and reassuring, the journey is then ready for a good start! There is no need to rush, push, or overwhelm anyone when they show up for their first session. As a matter of fact, the first thing we do to our female students is to introduce them to the class, commend them for their initiative in taking that class, and giving her an exclusive space on the mat divided only by brand new students like herself. From that point on, she will be more comfortable since other members are also in the same boat sharing that same experience with her. Having an easy and basic script of the few lessons needed to ease a beginner into a regular group class is a recipe for success, and we proudly make use of it. It is unforgettable to see the spark in the eyes of our new female student when she realizes we are there for her, the other classmates will be there for her, and the basic understanding of what she needs to do to get better is within her reach.
Having good training partners is crucial to positive growth in BJJ on the mat. Since safety is always part of the equation, a stalemate situation, for example like one person getting stuck in an inferior situation, will trigger the other to immediately assist and coach them on what to do as they go at each other. It is ultimately never a competition, but a cooperation towards a common goal: If I make my partner better, I will grow even further along the way! The quality of a person’s skill is closely related to the quality of his/her training partner!
Finally, the part that I consider the icing on the cake, when a member instead of just being a student, adopts the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle. That entails a more relaxed way of being (the more relaxed, the better the technique will be), which often shows in the way a person carries him/herself in the world. Jiu-Jitsu teaches about resilience. A good student will learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable positions, developing a sense of patience and determination at the same time. For women, those attributes are so critical, since the landscape of the physical world may try to pin them down at times. But as I always like to rephrase, they will be ready to swim with the sharks without flinching. I do encourage all women out there to take a leap of faith towards the direction of gaining such a useful knowledge such as Jiu-Jitsu. They have what it takes to succeed, they are tremendous students and the benefits they will get and give are beyond measure! Now let’s get our gis on and get ready to roll!!
Yours in the Martial Arts,
Owner RCJ Machado Jiu-Jitsu
8th Degree Coral Belt