Frequently Asked Questions about BJJ

We appreciate that BJJ is probably a bit of a mystery to newcomers, so here are some of the common questions we get asked:

Can I come and observe a class? - absolutely.  In fact this is a great way to get a feel for BJJ and decide if it's something you'd like to pursue.  Feel free to show-up to any scheduled class to observe.

Do I have to roll (spar) at the end of class? - no, this is voluntary and most newcomers do not roll until they feel totally comfortable.  You should also understand that there are varying degrees of rolling; many people choose to go slow or go gentle in order to try and perfect their thought processes and movements.

What are the different colored belts? - as with most martial arts, the belts signify differing levels of expertise and experience.  Everyone starts out a white belt, and through training and dedication progresses through Blue, Purple, Brown and Black.

How effective is BJJ for self-defense? - BJJ has consistently proven to be one of the most effective arts for self-defense.  It is no coincidence that many elite BJJ players have also found success in MMA.

How often, and how long are the classes? - there are classes or open mat every day except Sunday. See the full schedule here.

How many times per week should I attend? - you can train as often as you want. The more often you train, the quicker you will progress.

Do I need to buy a uniform (Gi) before taking a class? - you can take a free trial class without purchasing a Gi, but if you commit to BJJ you will need to eventually make a purchase.

How many people are in each class? - this varies depending upon students' other commitments.  An average would probably be around 10-12.

What is the format of the class? - each class usually comprises 15 min warm-up, 45 min instruction and then 30+ min rolling. 


Some Common BJJ Terms you might hear...

All arts have their own secret codes.  To alleviate any confusion and help you on your way, here is a quick guide to some of the terms you’ll hear in a BJJ environment.

Gi – the gi is the uniform of BJJ. It comprises pants and a jacket, is available in many different styles and colors. 

Shrimp – the shrimp is the basic escape, using your hips, legs and your arms to push away from your opponent. This is one of the most fundamental BJJ movements, and is often performed in warm-up.

Lizard – the lizard is a warm-up exercise to increase flexibility and improve your base.

Guard – the guard describes a position where your opponent is enclosed/trapped, usually between and by your legs. There are many variations of guard such as closed guard (your ankles are locked together), open guard (your ankles are not locked), and half-guard (you have only one of your opponent's legs trapped), among others.

Mount – the mount describes the situation when your opponent has passed your guard and is sat "full-mount" on your chest. 

Tap – when you tap (or tapout) you are acknowledging that your opponent has successfully applied a submission from which you cannot escape.  It is the signal for your opponent to release, and for you both to reset.

Base – your base is very important and defines your stability in a given position. Without good base, your opponent can easily knock you off balance and achieve a more dominant position.

Armbar - the armbar is often one of the first submissions you learn, and involves your hips applying pressure to your opponent's elbow joint.

Figure-4 – the figure-4 is used in many different submissions and involves trapping your opponent between your own intertwined/locked limbs so that he/she cannot escape.

Kimura – the kimura is a shoulder-lock submission that uses your arms in the figure-4 position.

Americana – the americana is another shoulder-lock submission that again uses your arms in a figure-4 position.

Triangle – the triangle is another figure-4 submission; using your legs to trap your opponent's head and one arm. The resulting choke is achieved by squeezing your legs.

Guillotine – the guillotine is a choke submission executed from a front headlock position.

Rear Naked Choke – this is a choke applied when you are facing your opponent's back.

Omaplata – this is a shoulder-lock submission using your leg to put pressure onto your opponent's shoulder joint.

Underhook – an underhook is achieved when you grab your opponent underneath his/her arm. It can be a very powerful tool in achieving a more dominant position.

Whizzer – the whizzer is like a reverse underhook, where you trap your opponent's arm by reaching over and around.

Roll – to roll is to spar, often gently but always with respect for your opponent.  When we roll, it is to test our technique and grow as BJJ practitioners.  It is not about dominating your opponent.