What should beginners expect from their first Beginner BJJ class with you?
Firstly, you’ll notice that most of your fellow students are wearing Gis. Gis are made up of a thick cotton jacket, trousers and a belt and are what we use to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in. The colour of the jacket and trousers isn’t important (although most people wear white, blue or black) it’s the belt that is important as this shows what grade you are. As you’re a beginner, you will be in a Beginner BJJ class, so your fellow students will all be white belts. Some will be very new white belts and some will be more experienced white belts. So there will be a range of beginners in the session.
Don’t worry about not wearing a Gi for your first few classes. Training in shorts/joggers and a t-shirt – with no zips and/or buttons on any item – is fine to start off. Please make sure that none of your training kit has any zips and/or buttons as you won’t be able to wear it if it does. And please make sure your finger and toe nails are short so you don’t scratch anyone else or yourself by accident. And jewellery/watches etc. need to be removed beforehand.
Also, please respect our house rules. The first of these involves footwear. You must never walk ON the mats with your shoes/trainers/other footwear on. You must never walk OFF the mats without having shoes/trainers etc. on your feet.
This is all about keeping the mats as clean as possible and not transferring any grit, grime, and other nasties from the outside onto the mats. You can contract some nasty skin infections from dirty training mats so we are very strict about keeping ours clean. It’s also not nice to put your face where someone else has just put their dirty shoes.
We play our part in cleaning the mats at least once a day, but we ask everyone else to look after them too. If you forget what the shoe rules are, we will remind you. But this is for your benefit too. We like to look after all our members, visitors and instructors – including you.
In your first class with us, you will start with the basics of the basics, so how to fall, how to move in certain ways, and this will help with some of the BJJ techniques and positions later on. Don’t worry about not knowing things, we don’t expect you to. You’re a beginner, and we all started as beginners.
Lessons are all about listening and engaging. When I ask the class if they have understood something, I want you to be honest. Please answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I won’t move forward with the rest of the session until I know, so I need some feedback from you. I don’t mind if I have to explain something several times, but I want to know how things are going from your side.
Also, and hopefully you will know this anyway, but Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a very close contact sport and most of the time we train on the ground. If you’re not sure you will feel comfortable being so close to other students, then please come and watch a class first. This will give you a really clear idea of what’s involved and whether you’d like to train yourself.
Why should I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Is it good for self-defence?
If you enjoy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then it can make a huge positive impact on your life. Not just on your health but also on your lifestyle, and how you view and approach things. BJJ has the potential to make you fitter, stronger, help build mental resilience, confidence, and problem solving skills. You’ll also get to meet new people, some of whom will become friends. BJJ is a martial art that you can take up and keep practicing whatever your age. It’s great for self-defence, or just putting someone in their place in a small way, as it’s a blend of grips, locks and chokes. It also teaches you how to control your centre of gravity against that of any attacker. No martial art will solve all potential problems, but Brazilian Jiu Jitsu does offer a lot of the solutions.
What sort of people come to your classes and start training with you?
We have all sorts of people who start training with us, all shapes, sizes, weights, ages and occupations. The majority of people who join us haven’t trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before. However, some may have trained in other martial arts or sports before. Sometimes new members are pretty unfit to start off, and lack some co-ordination, but everyone is very welcome. Equally, some new members have trained elsewhere before and are fitter, but everyone is on their own journey to grow and improve. At the moment, we have BJJ students who range in age from 6-70 and it’s brilliant to have that diversity here.
How fit do I need to be? What happens if I want to throw up during the class?
You don’t need to have a certain level of fitness at all to start training here. Just join a class, go with the flow, show us that you’re trying and show us your limitations. We can build up your fitness and flexibility etc. If you need to throw up just make sure you do it in a bin or a toilet, not on the mats!
How do beginners progress/how do you track this?
We have our Beginner White Belt Programme, which is also on our website blog, which lists everything that a beginner will learn and needs to know, in order to progress to more advanced lessons. Once we think beginners know and can demonstrate everything on the programme, and they feel the same way, we test them on it. If they pass, then they move into more advanced lessons. If they need some more practise on anything, then they practise a little more, then they pass! Our membership options include some that enable students to book ‘Open Mat Sessions’. These are sessions when members can come down and just practise things they’ve learnt in classes on their own or with another member.
What equipment will they need to buy and when?
To start off, you only need shorts/joggers/leggings and a t-shirt with no zips and/or buttons. After your first few classes, you would need a gi which cost £95 in total.
What are the do’s and don’ts of joining one of your classes?
Come with an open mind, actively listen and bring a bottle of water. And please remember the shoe rules! These do matter which is why we keep mentioning them.
Don’t worry if you can’t absorb everything we tell you in the class, remember as much as you can and, if you feel a bit overwhelmed, just pick one thing to remember. Please listen when things are being explained in the class, ask if you have questions, talk to us, and come with the expectation of having a good time.
Will I feel weird if I come on my own?
No, not at all, there are plenty of people here who will break the ice, explain where things are, answer any queries and look after you.
What sets your classes apart from other instructors? What will I gain by training with you?
I teach the basics that work, every time all the time, and always update my knowledge and keep adding to my skills bank. Whatever your body shape, flexibility and/or ability there will be something for you.
What’s the community like at LFF? What sort of people train there?
It’s very open, diverse and honest. All sorts of people train here, and we all have something in common and many things that are different about us. If you join, and get talking to other members, you’ll probably find someone who has the same interests and mindset as you. Lots of us spend a lot of time together, so we become almost like family members, and London Fight Factory is our second home. We’re the opposite of big commercial gyms, or franchised gyms, LFF is personal to a lot of people.