As a brand new beginner watching your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, it's easy to look at a room full of students and feel like you've got some conditioning work to do before you step on the mats. It's important to know that when you see the students in any given class, you're watching people who are 90 days in, 7 months in, 4 years, even 8 years deep into their jiu jitsu journey. What you're not seeing, is what they looked like on their first day. The truth is that they probably looked a lot like you.
People find jiu jitsu for a lot of reasons: self defense, competition, team camaraderie, the desire to find a healthy hobby, and the love of the art itself. But the number one reason that most people begin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to get in shape. Many students are trying to lose weight, some are trying to build muscle. But overall, even those who are actively working out in a gym are looking to improve their level of physical fitness.
I took my first Brazilian Jujitsu class in 2001. The desire to become a black belt academy owner someday was not what made me step on the mat the first time. I started because I was a golfer, and it was getting too cold to play. I also wanted to lose some weight. In the first four to six months of my training, I lost around 35 pounds. My desire to want to fuel my training and better at the sport led me to finally change my diet. (I always tell my students, you'll only ever eat Taco Bell before training one time.)
Between the consistent training and the diet changes, I started seeing results that I hadn't been able to achieve running and going to the gym on my own. That's the truth. If going to the gym on your own, running, and holding yourself accountable to getting in shape were easy, we would all be in perfect shape. But the truth is, that doing it on your own is hard. It doesn't work for everyone and most of us need some help.
When I first started URSA Academy, we only had one level of class, our brand new beginners were in classes with the advanced guys. We only had one level. It was tough, because that tough old school method of training was all I knew. What I started to realize was that there were a lot of people who would really benefit from training and truly NEEDED jiu jitsu, but the initial conditioning was scaring them away or making them quit. I honestly believe that jiu jitsu is for everyone. And I quickly realized that if I wanted to make jujitsu accessible to anyone, I needed to create a system that addressed the conditioning component that was holding so many people back.
At URSA Academy, we have two levels of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. Both of them teach real BJJ techniques, they just approach things from a different angle. In our first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, we focus on flow drilling, positional grappling, movement, survival, self-defense, and conditioning through BJJ specific training. All of our new students begin in this program to understand the 'Pillars of Jiu Jitsu,' the techniques & the mentality that will be the support for your game from white to black belt.
We also drill in short, intense rounds, never more than 3 minutes at a time. Across the world, the majority of BJJ students are men, although at URSA Academy, we have a statistically larger amount of women training than most academies. But this format of small bursts of intense activity works very well for men. (Women naturally better than men at endurance training, but interval training works well for everyone.) Playing into the natural strengths of our students helps them to increase their conditioning in a way that's challenging & empowering, but it's not going to crush people.
In order to introduce as many people as possible to the sport, help them experience the benefits of jiu jitsu, and set them up for a long successful jiu jitsu journey, BJJ Professors need to build people up, not weed them out in the 'old school way.' Conditioning is the first step of that building process and it's the responsibility of any jiu jitsu professor who truly cares about the long term success of his or her students.
So, no matter what shape you're in right now, whether you're working out in the gym once a week, once a month, or you haven't been off the couch in ten years, we've got a spot for you on the mat and we'll give you all the tools you need to succeed.