An intro class walk-through
As previously mentioned, we will use a variety of solo drills to begin warming up. Typically we start with a very light jog around the mat a few times just to get your heart rate up and your body ready for exercise. The idea of the whole warm up is just what the name implies; to warm your body up and break a light sweat.
Many students struggle with the movements initially but start to get it down after just a few classes. That same idea holds true for the rest of the class material as well. It is not uncommon to feel lost at first and then to gradually gain confidence with the material over a short period of time.
If you are not sure of what we mean by clinch, you can essentially think of it as stand up wrestling or what boxers do when they don’t want to get hit and grab onto their partners upper body. I like the boxing example because that is essentially what we are trying to do in Jiu Jitsu; turn a stand up fight into a stand up wrestling match.In boxing you see this happen all the time. If one person wants to clinch it is difficult to stop it.
Shortly after the UFC came out the tagline of many Jiu Jitsu schools was “90% of all fights end up on the ground”. It was true then and true now. It is hard to keep the fight off the ground if one person wants it there and knows how to take it there. Clinch work is an on-ramp to ground work. You need one in order to have the other.
If you get knocked to the ground in an assault, the most immediately safe place is your open guard. The open guard is defined by having your back on the ground and your feet pointed at your opponent, preferably in contact with them. With practice, this position can offer a surprising amount of defense.
The aim of the position, (this is a test! Do you remember the goals and objectives of the positions listed above?), is to first stay safe and not get beat up. From there you want to either try and stand up or knock your opponent onto the ground. This requires a fair amount of practice to master. It is also an essential part of Jiu Jitsu. It is for these reasons that we add this position into the mix right at the start.
We are separating the presentation of “ground” material from the open guard due to the dynamic nature of open guard. The open guard may begin as one person standing and the other on the ground, however it can quickly change to both standing or both on the ground. The ground work we are talking about here involves positions where both people are on the ground but one person clearly has an advantage.
Learning to move efficiently on the ground takes some practice. To complicate it, ground positions are often the most spatial disorienting to new students. Once you learn to walk, you don’t go back to crawling. So you have roughly your age minus one year experience in stand up/walking coordination. You can walk through the city, looking at your phone or talking with a friend, and navigate the streets just fine. On the ground, different story. So while there is a fair amount of productive partner competition with the first two areas, the ground portion of our practice looks more like a multiple choice exam.
Since effectively practicing Jiu Jitsu is dependent upon your ability to navigate the positional hierarchy, we spend a fair amount of time making sure that students know how to successfully move through it. Because the Gracie family already did the heavy lifting, we don’t have to test each and every position to see who breaks when and where. We do have to learn how to run the maze confidently and safely. Much of the practice here is providing your partner with stimuli that gives them a couple of choices, and then waiting for them to respond correctly.