While the jiu-jitsu community can agree on many things surrounding the lifestyle one point of contention has long been at what point do we let newcomers roll and should they be thrown right away in the fire or be gently taught in a sparring-less fundamental class.
The customs vary, while at some academies you roll from the very first training sessions other may require you to be a 2 stripe white belt who has already invested about 6 months into the sport without actually having tried it.
And while many believe this to be a key of success at some academies is it really so? What are the downsides of this approach?
Through the years many have claimed and even done surveys connecting sparring as a reason for quitting. It certainly takes a toll on the body and as such it will negatively impact some beginners.
While marketing hooks would have you believe bjj is for everyone in all honesty we all know it’s kind of an acquired taste.
In many smaller academies BJJ instructors mix beginners and advanced students in the same class. This is mostly due to lack of available classes and instructors. The problem with running multi level type classes is that both the beginner and advanced may get frustrated by what is being taught as it may not fit their needs.
This is where the fundamental class comes in. Chris Thompson, a BJJ instructor at Nemesis Grappling brilliantly compared old school work ethic and new school methodology:
Been doing some thinking about the new gym today and how to do things.
Im glad I came through the way I did and wouldn’t change it at all… thrown in at the deep end with no fundamentals or beginners classes, sparring on the first session getting completely mauled and tapped time after time!
All subs were fair game, neck cranks, face bars, spine locks, toe holds, knee bars, heel hooks etc it was brilliant I loved it… (in fact I remember one of the first times I visited a pure jiu jitsu gym and sparred one of their purple belts I managed to get one hook in and threw on a neck crank and he complained about me…. I genuinely had no idea what I had done wrong!)But I totally agree with the new way of doing things with the fundamentals classes and teaching the basics and positional sparring before they move onto the more demanding advanced classes.
I saw so many people give up the old school way who would of become good grapplers but just struggled with the live sparring at first, it could be ruthless and put loads of people off.
Ive seen a few guys come through the new way who I know wouldn’t have lasted back in the day and now they have become great sparring partners and team mates! And also I think their technique got a lot better a lot quicker than mine did as they are allowed to develop it under a lot less pressure.
Everything changes you just have to recognise which bits are for the best and which aren’t… Cant wait to get started!