What makes the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class format? There are a bunch of ways to format a BJJ class and quite a difference in feel and format. I think the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class has to be formatted for beginners specifically.
I like to think about how my beginners feel even before class. Most academies have you crushed into a changing room, not the most comfortable place to start and usually a smaller locker room for the women. We have individual changing rooms at our academy and also bathrooms where you can change in as well. There you will find helpful posters of how to tie your belt and about general etiquette so you know what to expect and don’t feel as much out of place. Then where most academies have cliches of people chatting in little subgroups while a loan white belt wanders around out of place with their belt tied wrong, we try to have everyone sit in a circle to learn peoples names and talk so that training partners is easier.
Some places have no warm ups for beginners (“My coach treats us like athletes and expects us to warm-up ourselves”), but every sport is different and expecting a beginner to warm up at home in a productive way before they head to class is crazy. My advanced students will warm up with technique, but beginners need to crawl before they can walk. We focus on ginastica natural and other body weight movements, spread out in a circle so that that you don’t feel like the whole class is waiting on you to complete a line drill that you just saw for the first time. This way warm ups are done at your own pace while still being part of the group.
Technique and curriculum
Our rotating curriculum circles through positions. Beginners focus more on defense than attacks because that is where they will find themselves most often. Techniques are demonstrated multiple times and then each student is walked through the technique one time each. Students face the same direction while drilling so that instructors can quickly see who needs help and so that students can look left and right to peek at what other groups are doing. By getting walked through the technique once they are just told to remember 10 steps and then get it right the first time.
Training happens with positional sparring. Some academies don’t allow beginners to spar and others throw them to the wolves. We do a lot of positional sparring so you get a chance to use the techniques you learned, but not get confused by the other positions. Most of my training as a black belt is also positional training. This is the best way to train because you can see the most progress. Whether you are a first day white belt or a 20 year black belt, this is the best use of your time on the mat. It also prevents injuries as beginners are surprised with moves that haven’t seen or objectives they don’t know about. BJJ is a complicated enough and shouldn’t be made more difficult by academies that haven’t put though into how to make the best brazilian jiu-jitsu class experience.