Jiu Jitsu First Class: Are You Ready?

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Are you ready for your first class in Jiu Jitsu? Many think they aren’t. 

New students tend to focus only on the physical skills required in Jiu Jitsu. Much more important are the mental skills of Jiu Jitsu. The most important mental skills are understanding how to learn and change. These are skills everyone has. 

Once you understand these mental skills, you can be good at Jiu Jitsu, or anything else you choose.

Your First Class In Jiu Jitsu

Starting something new is always challenging. Students worry they are too old, too out of shape, too small, not athletic enough. 

If you focus instead on building from the inside out, you will find that you can achieve anything. 

As you start Jiu Jitsu, you will go through big changes. These changes are your brain organizing itself in a more efficient way. 

The way your brain re-organizes itself around learning new skills will transfer to everything you do. 

Judo black belt and movement specialist Moshe Feldenkrais called this: Improvement of processes, as opposed to improvement of properties. “It emerges that systematic correction,” Feldenkrais writes, “will be a quicker and more efficient approach than the correction of single actions and errors.”

Change is a mental process first. The body will catch up to the brain.

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Work Smarter, Not Harder

You don’t have to be fast or strong or flexible to start Jiu Jitsu. You just have to be patient and focused. 

At Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore, I teach my students the principle of Seiryoku Zenyo, or maximum efficiency, minimal effort. 

What students tend to hear, though, is something along the lines of “maximum effort.” 

I spend a lot of time trying to convince them to relax and focus on “minimal effort” to practice their techniques, skills and drills. This attitude leads to faster improvement.

The surest method to make this happen is by working on technique in slow motion. The slower, the better. Learning begins in the brain first. The brain needs time to process new information. 

Slow-motion practice is the way to work smarter, not harder. Everyone, without doubt, has the ability to practice the smart way.

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore

“Life is a continuous process. The improvement is needed in the quality of the process, not in properties or disposition.”

The Ability To Grow

When people think of Jiu Jitsu, they may think of toughness, endurance, strength, and flexibility. Not everyone has those skills. 

Physical skills, however, are not essential to getting started in learning Jiu Jitsu. The most important skills reside inside you. The skills to learn, the skills to change.

If you have these, you can be good at Jiu Jitsu.

To improve at jiu jitsu, students will go through tremendous change. You will not get good at jiu jitsu by staying the same person you were when you first stepped on the mat. Jiu Jitsu requires a new approach. 

This principled approach does not come easily to new students. 

Most have been taught that improvement comes with effort and repetition. No pain, no gain. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. 

These notions actually interfere with progress in jiu jitsu – and daily life. 

Work needs to be separated from effort. Hard work is necessary for improvement; however, effort and strain block learning.

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore

“We can not become what we want by remaining what we are.”

Go With The Flow

Each movement we make is unique and new. The infinite complex of the brain makes it impossible to repeat the same action the same way.

The reason for this is what Russian scientist Nikolai Bernstein called “repetition without repetition.” Through his research, Bernstein discovered that simple tasks could never be duplicated exactly. 

Each technique is never to be repeated. Every lesson only happens once.   

If you are never able to do the same movement twice, why spend endless time trying to perfect an action through repetition? 

What we are after is not repetition, but learning.

Learning brings about change. Change creates improvement. (Read more about how to improve your learning.)

Through practice, we no longer remain the same. We change for the better. We change inside, which is manifested outside.

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore

“Everything changes and nothing stands still. No man steps in the same river twice. For it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.”

Take The Easy Route

It is paradoxical, but students who stop trying so hard to improve, improve the fastest.

I can never tell who is going be good at Jiu Jitsu when they first step on the mat. Usually, it is not the ones you suspect. You don’t have to be the strongest, you don’t have to be the fittest, you don’t have to be the most athletic. 

Jiu Jitsu is challenging. Learning Jiu Jitsu takes times. Approaching Jiu Jitsu with the right mindset will help take you far. 

Judo founder Jigoro Kano called this principle Ju-No-Ri — gentleness. It can also mean flowing with things. 

Students who are able to relax, take their time, and focus on practice without worrying about success usually progress the farthest. 

“Hard work can, on the one hand, mean constant openness and readiness to be moved, to become illuminated, to let ideas arise,” writes German philosopher and educator Heinrich Jacoby, a pioneer of the self-development movement in the early 20th century.  

“But it can also mean – and this applies to most of us here – brooding over, practicing, and exerting oneself. If you are … entirely given over to something, more can happen in a shorter time – and what happens can be very productive – than many hours of brooding over and exerting oneself may yield.”

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore

“We have no muscles which, when contracted, render our thought processes more productive.”

Jiu Jitsu Is For You

So, yes, you can do Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is for you. Are you ready for your first class?

If you give yourself over to learning, before you know it, you will be down the road. Your old worries will be gone.

You will realize you have the ability. Everyone does. 

Are You Ready? Get Started at Zenyo

About The Author

John David Emmett

John David Emmett

John David Emmett is head instructor at Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore. John is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with more than 20 years experience.

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