WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST CLASS AT AFFINITY ACADEMY
By James Brightwell
Your first time at anything can be daunting, first day at school, first driving lesson, first day at a Jiu Jitsu Academy. I thought I would detail what you can expect at your first class at Affinity Academy and hopefully answer any questions you might have about starting to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Affinity Academy.
JUST COMING FOR A VISIT?
At Affinity Academy you can watch any class, at anytime, meet our Sensei (teacher) and ask some questions before ever getting on the mats.
WHAT TO WEAR?
You don’t need to own a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi for your first class. If you want to participate in a class that uses a Gi than you can rent one at Affinity Academy. For No Gi classes T-shirts, board shorts and sweat pants are all fine. You will need to buy a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi if you continue training in Gi classes and you can purchase one from Affinity Academy.
YOUR FIRST CLASS
It is a good idea to arrive around 20 minutes early to your first class this will give you time to introduce yourself to our Sensei (teacher) or the instructor and check out the school (if you haven’t visited already). You will also need to sign a waiver form before you hit the mats.
- No striking, punching or kicking.
- No eye gouging or hair pulling.
- No twisting or grabbing fingers.
- No slamming (picking someone up and dropping them)
- No heel-hooks (twisting the foot or knee).
- No neck cranks.
Remember that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is “The Gentle Art” and designed to be trained safely without serious injury. The rules are to help keep you healthy and your training partners safe. Make sure you bring water with you, staying hydrated is a key to success.
We usually do a light warm up as a group where we jog a few laps around the mats just to get the blood flowing. We then tend to get into some solo drills like forward and backward rolls, shrimping and even crocodiles (don’t worry about the names) These will probably be new to you but all you need to do is watch the person in front of you, copy them and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry if you don’t get the exercises correct at first—no one does on their first day, and they take a little practice, just give it your best try!
TECHNIQUES / DRILLING
After the warm up our instructor will begin to demonstrate what we are going to learn today, this is usually done with a partner and someone with a rank of blue belt or above. Depending on which class you attend you may be coming into the back of our 4th lesson in a row on the same concept so don’t get discouraged if everyone else seems to be "getting it easily” On the flip side we may be learning something brand new and you’ll be just as confused as the rest of us. Once everyone has had an opportunity to ask questions and those have been answered you usually pair up with someone to drill the technique you have just learned. On your first day you will be assigned someone that will practice things with you. The point of the drill is to practice with a partner who is offering minimal to zero resistance. Drilling isn’t supposed to be difficult and you’ll find there is a lot of chatter as people ask questions and tend to have a good time doing it.
If I can offer some advice I will say ask LOTS of questions. If you don’t understand something or want it explained again then put your hand up and ask. I will admit during my first class I asked zero questions. I didn’t want to appear like I didn’t understand - it was my first class, I wasn’t supposed to understand everything right away. I believe the only stupid questions at Affinity Academy are the ones that you DON’T ask.
The normal way you signal a submission in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to tap your opponent three times. When you tap, make sure you do it hard enough that your partner can feel it; or verbally tap by saying “Tap!”; if all else fails loudly tap the mat with your foot so they can hear it. In the same token, be aware of your training partner tapping and stop whatever you are doing immediately when he / she taps out. Tapping is just part of training you aren’t winning or losing (trust me there are no PRO SCOUTS at our practices) you are just drilling. Just try the techniques you’ve learned to the best of your ability and tap when you need to, ideally before it hurts.
After we have finished our Technique Drilling with minimal resistance we go into something called Specific - all this means is you will now apply what you have learned with a partner who WILL BE resisting (this is entirely optional) Specific Drilling has a goal to achieve for each person you are partnered with. We line up against the wall and one by one cycle in with a partner. The person on the bottom has a goal to achieve, the person on the top has a goal to achieve. The goal will be specific to the drill we learned earlier. The first person to achieve their goal remains on the mat, the other joins the back of the line and continues the cycle.
OPEN MAT SPARRING (ROLLING)
To finish the class we partner up either by invitation or by someone our instructor will assign and we commence 5 minute rounds. At the start of each round, you’ll begin by facing your partner on your knees. When you’re both ready shake hands and start to “roll”: this we do to try out all our techniques, stopping whenever one person taps and then restarting from your knees. This portion of the class is entirely optional as well but I encourage you to roll with someone for a round to experience what "rolling" is.
With class over, you might have more questions, now you’ve trained for the first time. If you enjoyed the class and want to continue training, you can discuss membership options or review the schedule. You will need a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi for continued training (which Affinity Academy sells) but again you won’t need this right away. Take advantage of the trial specials Affinity offers to make sure Jiu Jitsu is right for you.
When I first decided to try Jiu Jitsu I started to do some research on what to expect, I thought I was prepared but clearly did not do a great job at researching, as my first class I didn’t even bring a water bottle with me! I remember my first class very clearly, we were learning a sequence of moves. Pulling Guard, Scissor Sweep, Achieving Top Mount, Transition to Arm Bar submission. I remember feeling very, very discouraged that I wasn’t immediately as good as I would like to be, or as good as the very patient blue belt that was instructing me. I was extremely out of shape, hot and dehydrated (again bring water) I went home doubting I would attend another class. My wife asked me how it went, I told her I am out of shape, and I am terrible at Jiu Jitsu, I wasn’t going to return. My wife reminded me that I wanted to train in Jiu Jitsu to GET IN shape and like any skill you learn things take time to master. I had my trial week of classes so with nothing to lose I came back. At the end of my second class I purchased a Gi from Affinity Academy and when I got home I signed up for a 12 month membership package. 9 months later and I rarely miss a class. Through experience I have learned that the moves I learned on my first day were not the most basic of moves and thinking I would master them within 60 minutes was absolutely ridiculous!
When you arrive at Affinity Academy I will make sure to introduce myself, I’ll be the guy in class asking lots of questions, laughing a lot and drinking lots of water! I hope this extended testimonial helps you in knowing what to expect, the opportunity to write this happened as I didn’t quit after my first class, like anything worth doing Jiu Jitsu can be difficult but at Affinity Academy you’ll find plenty of rewards in training. Remember at your second class you are TWICE as good as you were at your FIRST….stay hydrated and I’ll see you on the mats!
Solutions Analyst & Affinity Academy WHITE Belt