by Ashley Valli
Part of going through the stages of beginnerhood at BJJ (besides just flinging yourself into the pit of your first training session) is getting to know the different classes on offer and how to get the most out of them. Most of the time you’ll find it ranging between fundamentals and all levels (beginners: we don’t advise you taking the advanced classes for obvious reasons).
If you want to level-up quickly from a beginner to an intermediate white belt, we suggest you get to know the strengths of each of these two classes and plan your training accordingly:
- Teaches you the tricks and tips. This is for you beginners, intermediates, and any other BJJ-goers who are needing an introduction, refinement or refreshment of the different skills and positions of the jiu jitsu practice. The body of knowledge is so vast that there is always something new to learn.
- Fundamentals first, All levels second. Fundamentals is essential for laying down the groundwork in movement patterning and concept development. We recommend absolute beginners in jiu jitsu train for a month in fundamentals before attending the all levels classes —even then only at their comfort level, and if you’re unsure ask a coach.
- Helps to minimise injuries during training. You’re squeezing necks and bending limbs the wrong way — not only that, but these actions are also enacted upon you. Fundamentals helps to teach you how to execute these actions without putting your opponent at unnecessary risk as well as the safe ways to react when you, yourself, are put in a tricky position. Awareness of timing, including when to tap out, is also a learnt skill.
- Conditions your subconscious with learnt behaviours. Learning jiu jitsu is all about repetition. The more you do it, the better you get. Think of how your fingers have your pin memorised even when your mind might not, or how your feet know instinctively when to accelerate, break and hold the clutch when driving. When you keep repeating the same technique for long enough you start reacting to it without need for prompting.
ALL LEVELS CLASS
- Challenges you again and again. Part of what helps you level-up in jiu jitsu is grappling with people of all different experiences. Jiu jitsu is hardly a class you can just swim through (unless of course you’re a black belt shark come to prey on a beginners class). You will be challenged again and again.
- Gives you the freedom to explore your skills further. While fundamentals tends to focus more on routine and set repetitions, all levels gives you a bit more flexibility while also still allowing you to build on the fundamental skills of training.
- Going against higher level belts can help you learn faster. Maybe not so high that you get taken down so quickly you don’t even have time to blink, but with those skilled enough to allow you to give it your best and get bested anyway. By grappling with someone more skilled than you are, you are encouraged to work harder, use your mind and your muscles, and figure out your next move.
- Humbles you again and again. A lot of beginners go in with a certain amount of ego: all levels helps to squash that right out of you. There will always be someone better than you (even when their belt, size or weight might’ve had you think otherwise). Sometimes you might even get to watch someone else be humbled: sometimes a white belt beats a blue belt. It’s all about the humbling.