Walking through the door of a BJJ academy for the first time can be very intimidating, especially if there are people already on the mats, practising techniques and rolling with each other, before the class takes place. That said, every person on the mat at that time will have been in your place, walking in for the very first time and will know what’s going through that person’s mind and I’ve yet to train in a BJJ gym where the newcomer has been ignored and left to fend for himself.

BJJ classes are structured and many gyms offer beginner classes, ideal for first timers and after time served, they can move up to the intermediate and advanced classes; a typical class will consist of running round the mats, break falls, forward and backward rolls, a drill known the world over as ‘shrimping’, also known as a hip escape. Other drills, specific to BJJ will be performed and are always evolving and every coach brings their own years of training methods to the classes and no two warm ups are the same.

After warm up, partner drills are practised and these can be on just about anything to do with the different aspects of a BJJ fight; in a competition match, fighters start from standing, so the first thing that happens is either a guy gets a takedown, or they pull guard. At this point, cross training in Judo is a must and many of the academies in the UK and around the world, offer Judo classes and heavily encourage training Judo. Once on the ground, the guy on top can look to pass the guard and the guy underneath can sweep or submit his opponent. After a pass, the guy can work to improve his position, look to mount his opponent and submit from the mount, or stay passed and in side control and submit from there. Knee on belly is a position many use to control their opponent before either mounting or submitting and taking the back is another option for the guy on top and once there, submissions follow.

After warm up and drills, specific training takes place, taking out one part of the rolling jigsaw (guard pass for example) and partners will practice just the one position as set by the instructor; rolling will end a typical session and the instructor will put people together matched to their belt and skill level.

Leaving your ego at the door will prevent you from the misery of broken fingers, dislocated joints, ruptured tendons and much worse; enjoy every session and if you get tapped out, shake hands and start again. Tapping out allows you to prevent serious injury and you can resume training a few seconds later. If you don’t tap you might not train again for weeks or months.

There are many health benefits associated with training BJJ; every session you will walk away with increased levels of stamina, strength, endurance, self-confidence, balance and much more. You will face battles on the mats every session, rolling with the bad ass higher grades, getting submitted again and again, night after night. Yet there you are the next night, back on the mats, rolling with these beasts until one night, you become the beast and you take a step up the ladder. Life will never be the same again.

Picking yourself up off the mats at the end of class, drained of energy, battered and bruised and returning for the next class, demonstrates an inner toughness you only get from regular training and all these skills cross over into other areas of your life. All the pressures of modern life, work, bills and other worries can be tackled head on. You’re a fighter now, you can respond under intense pressure when you are used to having a fifteen stone purple belt mount you in class, looking to submit you.

BJJ is one of the best stress busters around, trust me. Had a bad day at the office? Simple, get the gi on (BJJ outfit) hit the mats and smash some rounds of rolling in and you’ll soon forget your bad day. It’s like moving Zen when you roll, you instantly become aware of the right here and now, nothing else matters in life except the guy you are rolling with, so your brain takes a respite from worrying and takes a well-earned break. Sure, your worries will be there after class, but you’ve had a chance to forget them for a while and that can only be a good thing. Just repeat this process by going back to class and do some more training.

In addition to all the health benefits associated with BJJ, are the many friends you will make both at the gym and through competition; in competition you are both fighting for the same thing, but once the whistle blows, regardless of win or lose you will have made a friend for life and gained each other’s respect for stepping up to fight.

So what are you waiting for?

Come on down to the club, have a word with the instructor and start a life changing journey, you won’t regret it!