Q: What is Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ)?
A: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art created by Helio Gracie that specializes in techniques when you are on the ground, whether on top or the bottom of your opponent. It encompasses throws and takedowns, positional control, positional escapes, and submissions. Submissions include arm locks, wrist locks, chokes, and leg locks. It is currently the most commonly practiced ground martial art in mixed martial arts (MMA). Unlike a number of other martial arts, BJJ does not have “forms” practice (though we do have drills that are intended to enhance muscle memory or build muscles). The way to get better at BJJ is through constant drilling and rolling (the BJJ term for sparring).
Q: Who can learn BJJ?
A: Anyone can, regardless of strength, body build, or gender. BJJ is a sport/martial art where knowledge is literally power. In BJJ, it is more important to master the details of a technique than to be able to lift a large amount of weight. Helio Gracie, the founder of BJJ, was a small man and created a martial art based on utilizing leverage instead of pure strength. With superior technique, he was able to defeat opponents more than 70 lbs heavier than he was, even at an advanced age.
Q: Is Brazilian jiujitsu the same as MMA and UFC?
A: Yes, but only in part. Odds are that you first heard of BJJ because of the increasing popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA). Over the years, BJJ has grown to become one of the most popular and essential components of MMA. However, most BJJ schools do not teach striking as part of BJJ, with the exception for a few self-defense lessons. Meanwhile, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the premier MMA sport league in the world. A large number of the athletes in the UFC are trained in BJJ, many of them reaching the black belt level.
Q: Do I need to buy a gi if I want to learn jiujitsu?
A: No. There are two ways to practice BJJ, gi or no-gi. A gi is the “official” uniform for BJJ and is sometimes referred to as the “kimono.” BJJ gis are a lot thicker than karate or taekwondo gis due to the need to resist tearing during grappling. Although very similar, BJJ gis differ slightly from judo gis in that the sleeves of judo gis are wider because of judo’s style of play. However, you can practice BJJ in a judo gi if you already possess one or want to buy one instead of a BJJ gi. BJJ becomes a lot more technical when practicing with a gi since grabbing of clothing is allowed. In DukeBJJ practices, we mostly do no-gi, where grabbing of clothing is not allowed. However, we do encourage members to purchase a gi at some point to improve their technique.
Q: How do rankings work in BJJ?
A: There are five belt levels in BJJ: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Unlike in many other martial arts, a BJJ practitioner is expected to learn and be able to execute a vast amount of techniques in order to progress to the next belt level. For instance, a white belt is expected to know all the survival techniques, be familiar with most of the escape techniques, and recognize the majority of common submission techniques before being promoted to blue belt. If you are interested in working towards the next belt level, it is highly recommended that you train in one of the local BJJ schools in addition to club practices. We do not give belt promotions in the club.
Q: Is it too late to join?
A: We accept new members at any time of the academic year. Reach out with any questions or concerns you may have about joining.