Clark Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy
Day 13: Intro to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Background: The Clark Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy offers the best training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from beginners, to pro Mixed Martial Artists, and Law Enforcement. At our Academies, we focus on the team; Meaning you, the student. Not everyone has the same reasons for training in the Martial Arts. The philosophy of this Team is to teach functional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that you will keep with you for the rest of your life. You will not get watered down technique, or be taught how to win a tournament without knowing how to defend yourself on the street. We will teach you to be comfortable anywhere, with or without strikes; on the feet, on the ground, off your back, how to control the situation, and how to have fun while learning it!
Wow, It’s not everyday you get to learn from a master. Clark’s intro to Jiu Jitsu class was humbling and amazing, but it was not my first experience with a master (I’ve crushed 12 seasons of Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay). We arrived 10–15 minutes before class (pretty standard among newbies to any fitness class), and my request for a “gi” (the white jacket top and pants, pronounce “gee”) was shot down quickly. Turns out you have to be a member to get one — don’t think I’m not considering it.
Clark made sure Sam and I were squared away and ready for our first class, as we joined 6 other experienced practitioners. Chris, another instructor, paired off with us to show us the ropes. The class faced Clark, we clapped, we bowed, and we were off to warm up.
After jogging around the ring forwards, backwards, and sideways, we got to practice our rolling. You don’t have to ask me twice to start flipping around out there, but it’s not as graceful as the rest of the class. Sam, Chris, and I circled as the others broke into pairs, and he [Chris] showed us the proper way to take down an opponent. After, we worked on fighting off an attacker from the ground.
Clark’s academy places a large emphasis on functionality and practicality. Like teaching a man to fish vs giving him a fish, but with grappling and defending. Clark’s team wants to teach you how to protect yourself in real life situations, like coming home late from a bar, or having an attacker approach you when you’ve fallen.
Chris was a great sport. He let Sam and I practice flipping him, putting him into arm bars, and an Americana arm lock. Don’t be fooled though, he made sure to show me how each move was supposed to be performed — multiple times. I’d like to think I held my own, but once we got to the hip-flipping I had no answer.
Clark would join our group throughout the class to practice and talk us through the movements. He’d also stop the class to show us all lessons on escapes and submissions (Chris got the brunt of the teaching sessions as well). I’d say the best part of the class was the position reversals and the hip toss. It’s all about leverage and using your opponents weight against them. People of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to practice Jiu Jitsu because of this.
BJJ teaches plenty of physical lessons, but there are mental teachings benefiting students as well. An obvious lesson can be increased confidence from practicing a martial art, yet humility is introduced as a much smaller opponent can easily take down a larger one. Their [larger person] confidence/hubris due to the difference in size can be their downfall.
At the end of the class we lined up and greeted our fellow classmates. You could feel the community in the room, and it was great to be apart of it. Safe to say we’ll be back.
Meet the Instructor!
Clark Gracie: @ClarkGracie
What is your favorite aspect of Jiu Jitsu?
CG: I like the confidence it gives you. The confidence and the discipline. It’s very leave your ego at the door when you come in.
How would you describe Jiu Jitsu?
CG: There’s a good saying, Jiu Jitsu is basically the use of technique and intelligence over brute force. It’s about leverage and your technique.
What type of person does Jiu Jitsu?
CG: All types of people. You can be athletic or nonathletic. You can be looking for health, fitness, community, or even fun. You can be a kid that needs structure or self-confidence in their life. Someone who is being bullied, or even a bully who needs to learn that he is not the toughest kid around.
What age did you start training?
CG: Around 4. When I started it wasn’t big on kids group classes. It’s now growing, but when I began it was nonexistent in the US. So I was forced to train with the adults more when I turned 10. Now it’s full of kids who are 3 or 4 years old, it’s amazing.
*Explain it to Dylan* Can you explain the belt colors and what they signify?
CG: White is where you start, and the next for adults is blue, purple, brown, and black. On average it takes about 10 years to reach black belt level if you are consistent.
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