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How to make Jiu Jitsu accessible for all

Some schools still retain the “BJJ is not for everyone” mentality, thankfully many schools are moving beyond that attitude. Jiu Jitsu schools are looking to be more inclusive towards the myriad types of people taking Jiu Jitsu classes.  The responsibility of the instructor is to make sure the training environment is appropriate for all players. I have set up a few guidelines on how to make the mats more welcoming to all people who may be there for very different reasons.

1. Know why you are there

People are drawn to BJJ for many different reasons. When I was first looking for a Jiu Jitsu school the options are slim.  Fortunately Jiu Jitsu schools in Morris County and the surrounding areas are becoming more plentiful.  People are looking for BJJ classes for any number of reasons and most are not looking to become world champion fighters.  Some are looking for fitness, some are looking to learn practical self-defense and some are looking to be competitive with not only themselves but with others. Your reasons may be consistent throughout your training or they may change from day to day or week to week. Make sure you understand why you are there before you step on the mats to train.

2. Return the energy that is given to you

We acknowledged that you will encounter people training for different reasons then you.  It becomes very important to be sensitive to the level of output your training partner is giving.  When I am starting a live round with a 40 year old man who is primarily looking to get in shape and may be nursing some injuries.  I will definitely not train with them as competitively against someone I know is looking to compete in a few months.  I may look, in this situation, as a way to practice the positions I am weak in or simply play defense.  That way both parties are benefiting from their time on the mats.

3. Be honest with yourself and your training partner

Don’t be the person who asks their partner to go easy because you are hurt and then try to kill them after you slap five. This is how injuries happen.

4. Get to know your training partnersGaelforce BJJ Roxbury morris county new jersey

After a while you should be familiar with the motivations of your training partners. This allows you to make sure you benefit from each roll. When you come to a BJJ class you should be able to recognize who you can roll competitively with and who you can work defense positions with. This understanding will maximize your progress while minimizing injuries.

Jiu Jitsu is a wonderfully rewarding activity. Your success is dependent on not only yourself but all of your training partners. In order to progress and achieve longevity it becomes important that you not only take care of yourself but also your training partners. It’s like ole Jack Burton used to say, “The dancer who steps on his partner’s toes dances alone.” Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section.

Alex Kennedy
Gaelforce BJJ
Roxbury, Morris County, New Jersey

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