20 May 2010

When was your first time?



I often think back to the first time I tried BJJ. It was in 2003 and I was curious to find out more about this Gracie thing I kept hearing about. You see back then I was really in to my Japanese style of trad ju-jitsu and loving the training, but throughout my journey I kept coming across Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was unavoidable, there was a growing library of BJJ books, websites, forums and a couple of clubs in London. However, because I was commited to my trad-JJ training, I wasn't really interested, until one day I attended a trad-JJ seminar on groundfighting run by a judo and ju-jitsu instructor (who was a wonderful man and has since passed away).

One seminar of groundfighting - and remember this was nothing to do with BJJ - lit my fire like no other sport or activity has ever done. During the seminar we learned one or two chokes and joint locks applied whilst in side mount of something - I can't remember the details - but it was the sparring at the end that really stoked me up. I lost horribly each time but I loved it at the same time. I knew, from that moment on, I wanted to explore this further.

It took a wee while for me to find a club to try out a BJJ session. But I did and it was amazing. Just the whole laid back atmosphere of the class, the variety of cool techniques and of course the very intense and aliveness of the sparring - all of it was a world away from what I was used to. I remember to this day, the first lesson I did covered spider guard...just picture how amazing it is to try something this cool when you've never ever seen spider guard before? Back then, there were no beginner lessons, you were simply dropped in at the deep end. It took me quite a long long while to find my feet, and sparring for me was awful, I really felt I was going backwards each session, and yet I persisted. I never forget those early sessions, they have formed the bedrock of how I train and roll today.

And so that was my first time. What was yours like?

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About the Author

Meerkatsu

Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.

12 comments:

Georgette said...

I had just started training in kajukenbo-- maybe a month or so? It's an art that combines karate, judo, jiu jitsu, kenpo, and kung fu. When we got around to the jiu jitsu part, he taught us how to pass closed guard first-- fine, whatever. But when we got paired up with more advanced students, and I had to do it against some resistance (and submission attempts!) I was entranced. It was like chess-- every move I made, he had two or three answers for. For once it seemed like a real fight, instead of pretend. I was in love.

leslie said...

I was doing Tae Kwon Do, and a fellow black belt had started training BJJ with my now-coach. He'd come in to TKD after BJJ and show me some stuff; kinda cool, and I thought about maybe doing it, but then that black belt left the area so I forgot all about it. The TKD club later held a self-defense seminar for the community, and this same black belt came back and taught a couple of throws and some simple groundwork. After the community left, he showed even more groundwork to the rest of us. It seemed fun still, and I was already thinking of finding something to supplement my TKD.

So the next week I showed up on Thursday at the BJJ class. Tim looked at me skeptically when I said I wanted to do BJJ, but he let me in anyway. (He didn't tell me that this was the advanced class. He expected I'd quit after one night anyway.)

During the warmup, we did conditioning drills down the mat, from the wall on one side to where the chairs were lined up on the other. I think it was after one trip down of alligator walks, I just kept crawling until I was sitting in one of those chairs. I was exhausted! I alternated between wanting to pass out or throw up for the rest of class. I couldn't even get out to drill. It was awful! ... and yet something made me come back the next week, despite being embarrassed by wimping out during the warmup.

The next two classes, one of the instructors showed me the basic guard pass over and over and over while everyone else rolled. Then in the 3rd class, he rolled (very gently) with me -- and like you, I was entirely, thoroughly, and irreversibly hooked.

andyjeffries said...

Mine's easy to remember - it was last Friday :-)

Like leslie, I'm also a black belt in Taekwondo but have watched BJJ with interest for a few years and there hasn't been a class nearby. Then I happened to be looking again last week and a new class had opened up the week before, very near me. As an aside, exactly the same thing happened when I started Taekwondo 24 years ago - the class opened the week before.

Anyway, I went along on Friday with much excitement (and a few nerves I can assure you) and found the friendliest bunch of guys ever. The coach was brilliant, really nice and takes an infinite amount of time to explain things. There's a black belt in judo/japanese jiu-jitsu there and he also spent ages showing me little things as I had no clue.

I spent the evening shrimping and learning an escape (actually branching in to three different escapes but all starting the same way) from half-guard.

Then it was rolling time! With very little clue what I was doing - I had the Judo black belt be very coaching, teaching me lots of little tips.

The BJJ coach was very helpful and taught me quickly how to tap and to tap often. I'm glad that he submitted me multiple times. I'd like to experience/learn from the real deal and he didn't ever hurt or frighten me, just taught me that I kept being vulnerable to the same submission.

I then rolled with a guy who is a beginner to BJJ but has some grappling experience from MMA. My strategy in that one was lay-and-pray. I managed to get from half-guard, to side control to mount to laying all my weight on him and resisting his movement. It felt like survival mode more than actually knowing what I was doing, but I made it out with my elbows intact.

The sparring felt very awkward (I only knew one escape and no attacks at all) but at no point did I feel in danger and I'm sure over the coming weeks I'll feel like I actually can try some things.

I finished the night tired and sweaty, and ached from Saturday morning until Wednesday morning (I couldn't do press-ups at Taekwondo on Tuesday night) - but I am absolutely hooked!!! Roll on 7:30 tonight when I'm back for more :-)

And by the way Meerkatsu, thanks for the blog - as a beginner/new convert to BJJ it's been a very interesting read and I've subscribed to the RSS feed so I don't miss any more of your posts.

The Part Time Grappler said...

I had read about it here and there and the Swedish MA magazine FIGHTER MAG advertised a seminar with some dude called Roy Harris. I signed up and WOW!

I didn't really understand much but I could see how small people where tearing up bigger stronger-looking people. I was the equivalent of purple in Karate and thought BJJ would be great compliment to Karate. I found a place and started doing Karate 3x a week and BJJ 1x week. That only lasted a couple of months before I moved to the UK and kinda forgot about BJJ (not knowing where to find it)

I jumped aroung different Karate clubs trying to re-capture the spirit of what I had back home and one day decided to try out something different like Muay Thai. I found a place, wrote down the address and went one evening, only to take the wrong left turn and end up at a BJJ session down the road from them.

5 years down the line, here I am :) Happy as larry.

slideyfoot said...

My first experience was this and this. Yay for blogging every lesson. ;p

Jason (JiuJitsuMap.com) said...

My first was simple. I asked around and found some good recommendations and then went shopping for a school. I picked BJJ because of the instructor and then fell in love with the martial art. I need something to get me moving. BJJ has done it in more then one way.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks guys. Entry points to bjj are roughly similar. Im also interested.in exit points...why do certain people leave bjj? I guess this would be much harder to answer.

Jim said...

I remember my first time well. I wanted to try something new. I hated grappling/wrestling, but that was the point. Now I'm hooked.

Ben - jimmyDean101 said...

About 12 years ago I went to Pedro Sauers place in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah with a couple guys I trained with in Shotokan Karate and Danzan Ryu Jiu Jitsu. We had gone to a local university to train with some Judo practitioners, but when no one showed up we decided to check out Pedro's on the way home.

After some quick warm ups we hit the mat and trained with Pedro's students. I'd been studying for about 18 months and was preparing for my brown belt test. I felt pretty confident in my abilities. We worked a lot of stand up, but very little on the ground.

I spent the next 45 minutes getting my trash kicked from one person to the next. I left humbled to say the least. Why I didn't start training BJJ right then I don't know. Since then I've spent years studying Tai Chi, Pencak Silat, and Wing Chun but always remembered that experience.

It's taken awhile, but now I am very happy with the path I've taken. It helps to have found the right place to train also. BJJ is a lot easier to stick to when you are in a place where you feel safe and have fun.

SkinnyD said...

I know I'm late on this, but oh well. I had wanted to learn a martial art since I was a kid, but I'm from rural Wyoming and there was literally no opportunity to do so.

When I was in college, my brother's brother-in-law, Dave (now my coach), was a brown belt living in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. My brother and I were visiting SLC and he told me that he had asked Dave to give us a jiu-jitsu demonstration. I had no idea what it even was, but being an MA enthusiast I agreed. We went over to his house, and he spent the next 3 hours showing us the basics of jiu-jitsu. I was impressed and freaked out at the same time. The efficacy of jiu-jitsu was obvious, because I had just experienced it. It completely changed the way I thought about martial arts. I took the 4 or 5 submissions he taught us, went home and started trying them out with a group of guys in the college wrestling room. I was amazed to find that this 3-hour session had given me enough ammo to submit a couple of wrestlers, even though I had no wrestling experience whatsoever.

It was still a couple of years before I had the opportunity to start training, but I knew after that first time that this would be my martial art of choice. I've still got the bug.

Meerkatsu said...

Cool memories, thanks guys.

It seems that quite often, a person's first taste of BJJ may not propel to find the nearest club immediately. But it does plant a seed and in a way, BJJ comes to them...to us.

Julia Johansen said...

My first time was June 1, 2010. I still remember the guy I was paired up with. A HUGE guy--over 6' tall (I'm 5'4"), over 210lbs (okay, I'm close to that weight). He was so much fun.

We were taught the cross collar choke and shrimping. A gal pal came with me and we were nervous and giggly and o_O over the positions they wanted us in.

I wrote about it more here on my blog

 

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