Easton Training Center Beginner’s Guide to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is the single most effective martial art you can learn for self-defense. BJJ doesn’t rely on size and strength. It’s all about leverage and joint manipulation. A smaller person could easily use BJJ techniques to defeat a much larger and stronger opponent. Since real-world fights often end up on the ground, training in a martial art that focuses exclusively on ground combat is both practical and prudent. If your primary interest is learning to compete in mixed martial arts, you might know that BJJ makes up a significant part of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting. In MMA it’s absolutely necessary to develop a great ground game. From the basics of ground-and-pound to executing a successful submission, Jiu-Jitsu will provide you with the skills you need to dominate in a match. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will also get you in shape! It is a physically demanding sport that requires both flexibility and endurance. You will exert a great deal of energy on the mat, and that exertion will get you into peak physical condition. Best of all, with BJJ, exercise is fun, never a chore. The Easton Training Center Beginner’s Guide to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will cover the basic things you need to know if you’re just starting out. Let’s take a closer look at how to care for your gi, tie your belt, the kids’ belt system, and the health benefits!
Part 1: How to Care for Your BJJ Gi
So you got your first gi for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Now what? Here are some pro tips on how to keep your gi looking fresh, feeling crisp, and smelling nice without destroying the material, fading the color, or shrinking it beyond use.
Wash your gi immediately after practice. Bacteria builds up quickly, so make sure you
Wash your gi as soon as you get home. You don’t want to get your training partners or yourself sick. Staph is a real thing, and it’s not a fun experience for anyone. Be a good training partner and have a clean, nice smelling gi to train with because no one wants an affront to their senses or their health!
Try to have a backup gi. Having an extra gi around makes sure that you always have a clean gi to put on for your next class. This tactic also helps you not wear your gi out too soon. If you are training more than 2 or 3 days a week, having a spare gi around makes sure that you are always prepared for class.
Don’t use hot water. Warm or cool water is preferable with gis. Hot water will shrink your gi! All gis will shrink a minor amount after their first wash, but hot water will shrink them more than you would like and also damage the fibers. If you are going to compete, make sure that you keep IBJJF gi standards into account in regards to the fit of your gi. You don’t want your pants or jacket to be too short.
Wash on a “gentle” setting. Gis get washed a lot. Make sure that they last as long as possible by washing them on gentle settings.
Do not use fabric softener or bleach. Fabric softener and bleach will break down the fibers of your gi, making it thinner and weaker. This will be to your disadvantage when competing or training. You don’t want a flimsy gi that has the potential to rip mid roll.
Use good detergent. Cheap detergents wont get out the smell and bacteria in a dirty gi as well as good detergent. Cheap detergent will also damage the fabric of your gi, making it thinner and weaker.
Wash your belt. “But, won’t my skills wash away?” Your skills aren’t reliant on the dirtiness of your belt. Be a good training partner and keep the staph away from the mats. Wash your belt.
Pro Tip: Tie the string of your gi pants before washing so that the string doesn’t slip out of your pants. If you forget to do this and it does, tying one end to a pen or hanger and threading it through is the best way to fix this issue.
Turn your gi inside-out when washing. This will preserve the color of your gi and keep your patches looking fresh. If you are washing your gi with other clothes, throw it in with similar colors. It’s best to wash it alone or with other gis of the same color. But if you have to wash it with other clothes, make sure that your white gis don’t turn pink and wash them with only white clothing.
Remove your gi from the wash immediately. This is so that your gi doesn’t develop a terrible smell from sitting soaking wet in your washer for hours on end.
Don’t machine dry your gi (unless you want to shrink it). Hang dry your gi so that it doesn’t shrink. Tumble drying a gi will absolutely shrink it, and also damage the fibers over time. Fans or radiators are great ways to safely make your gi dry faster. Make sure your gi is at least 3 feet away from the radiator if you are using this method. Avoid direct sunlight when hang drying your gi (again, this will damage the fibers). Hang drying your gi inside is best.
If you want to iron your gi, do it inside-out. Ironing it on the outside will damage your patches and also damage your gi’s fabric. If you feel the need to iron it, stick to turning it inside out.
Frequently-Asked Questions about Gis
Any differences with hemp gis? Hemp gis can be cared for in the same manner as cotton gis.
What about No Gi clothes? If you want your compression shirts and shorts to stay the same size, hang dry them as well and wash them using cool water. Make sure that your grappling shorts are velcroed shut before washing so that you don’t ruin the velcro strap.
What if I want to shrink my gi? Gi pants shrink faster than a gi jacket. Keep this in mind when you want to shrink an oversized gi. All cotton gis will shrink a little bit after the first wash, so consider this before you throw it in the dryer afterwards. Try it on, and if it’s still too big, throw it in the dryer. Try taking the gi out of the dryer every 5 or 10 minutes and try it on to see how it fits so that you don’t over shrink it.
What about stains and smell that lingers? White vinegar and cool water work wonders for smells and stains. Run cool water over the stain, and if it still doesn’t go away, try soaking the stain in white vinegar before washing your gi. Putting a dab of detergent on the stain and letting it sit for a few minutes before washing has also been a useful tactic for stains. Freezing your gi overnight has also been a useful method for pesky scents that don’t seem to go away. If the scent still lingers, let your gi sit overnight in a sink or bucket with some white vinegar and cool water. If that method still doesn’t take the terrible scent out of your gi, it’s probably time for a new gi.
Part 2: How to Tie Your BJJ Belt
Ask any jiu-jitsu practitioner, and I bet they have a story of their first class as a white belt, of wearing their gi for the first time, or rolling with their first partner. They likely remember learning to tie their belt as well.
At the top of the class and after rolling on the mats, my first instructor would remind us to straighten our gis and make sure our belts were tied every single time we lined up. I understood it to be practical and respectful of myself and those around me. I struggled at first with tying my belt. Fortunately, senior students and coaches are always willing to help. Dedicate a few minutes now to learn this humble but important skill so that you can stay focused on what matters: training.
Here is one simple way to tie a secure knot:
Step 1: Hold the belt by the middle and place it in front of your stomach.
Step 2: Wrap both ends around behind your back and bring them to the front again.
Step 3: Take the left-hand tail and wrap it downward around both strands of the belt, then pull it up behind.
Step 4: Fold the left-hand tail towards the left.
Step 5: Bring the right-hand tail up in front of the left-hand tail and pull it down between the left-hand tail and the belt.
Step 6: Pull tight!
Consistency is key! Practice every day and before long you’ll be helping a newer student with their belt!
Part 3: The IBJJF Belt System for Kids
The belt system for adults is fairly straightforward and understood, but many adults have questions about the kids belt system as they start enrolling their children in BJJ programs. Easton follows the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) belt system. The IBJJF is a nationally recognized governing body of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that hosts many of the biggest Jiu Jitsu competitions in the world. Their standardized kids belt system is for ages 4 to 15. All students start at white and then move though the colors gray, yellow, orange, and green. Each color has 3 belt divisions: color-white, solid color, and color-black.
The white belt is given at the end of the first class after sign-up. Getting a white belt is greatly celebrated, every person on the mat once stood in the same spot and remembers it. Getting a white belt means first and foremost that you and your child are a member of the Easton Family, and second that the other kids now know that your child can handle a little squish.
As a white belt, children will start to learn the basics of Jiu Jitsu, including keeping positions of control and escaping positions of danger. We also include weekly mat chats that focus on behavior and how to handle ourselves on and off the mat.
Every belt receives stripes as they work toward the next color. White belts require 5 stripes before graduating. A new stripe is considered once a student has completed at least 8 classes and it has been at least a month since their last belt or stripe. Many factors go into the decision to promote, including focus, discipline, respect, and performance at school and home. Earning stripes is ultimately up to the Coach or Professor and can be delayed until the student is ready. A student will spend at least 6 months as a white belt.
Gray Belts (Gray-White, Solid Gray, Gray-black)
Gray belts focus on details and figuring out how to adjust and complete moves against fighting opponents. Gray belts can be considered for the intermediate class, with Coach’s approval. Students attending intermediate classes are required to attend at least 16 classes before being considered for a stripe promotion. Gray-White belts earn 5 stripes and will spend at least 6 months at this belt before moving up to solid-gray. Starting at solid-gray the remaining belts require 11 stripes to move forward. Students can expect to spend at least a year at each of these belts.
Yellow Belts (Yellow-White, Solid Yellow, Yellow-Black)
The yellow belts focus is flow, transitioning from move to move smoothly, as they begin to figure out their strategy and thinking several moves ahead. Yellow belts may be allowed into the advanced class, with Coach approval.
Orange Belts (Orange-White, Solid Orange, Orange Black)
Orange belts are considered advanced. Their focus is to continue to develop their strategy, finding out which moves work best for them and how to perform them smoothly.
Green Belts (Green-White, Solid Green, Green-Black)
Green belts have been training for at least 10 years and are sharpening their skills and fine tuning their game. Green-black is the highest belt students under the age of 16 can achieve.
Moving into the adult belt system
At the age of 16 students will move into the adult belt system. If a student has shown the proper training and expertise, the coaches may decide to award them a blue belt. Students who need more experience will transfer to an adult white belt.
When we think about exercise, certain motions come to the forefront of our thoughts: running, jumping, maybe even a coordinated series like soccer. Often, we forget that highly technical sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, can have just as much of an impact on a healthy adult lifestyle as more traditional workouts. Just like any other sport, you’ll have immediate results from a single session, as well as the long term benefits from working on the mats over time.
Let’s start with some of those instant gratifications. Immediately you’ll get a rush of endorphins after a class. Regardless of how your day shapes out, that extra kick of feel-good juices is going to make it better. If you’re like me, and have trouble sleeping at night, getting a session in always makes the body more receptive to sleep at the end of the day, which leads to a better night of sleep, and subsequently, a better morning. If I do not get some sort of training every two days or so, my body refuses to give me some decent shuteye.
There are those more advanced benefits as well, the ones that we tend to see over time. At the heart of it, jiu jitsu is a body weight exercise. This type of workout has shown a history of great benefits, one being to reduce the likelihood of casual injury. People who are used to moving their own weight around (and maybe someone else’s at times) tend to have a lower injury rate on a day to day basis. Those microtears created during class repair themselves and make muscles stronger. The bruising that we would see after the first few classes gradually stop showing up as easily, as our bodies get used to the abuse it’s getting. I won’t even go into the specifics of cardiovascular health, but you’ll notice that barely perceptible increase in your endurance, until one day you finish up and realize you could have gone on longer.
As adults, we no longer have that set routine as we did when we were younger, there’s no recess in the middle of our day to give us a physical outlet. Something as consistent as jiu jitsu in our everyday lives is going to grant us a certain stability. Having someplace to go, at a specific time of day, to focus on bettering ourselves in an environment we can control really gives a renewed sense of purpose. As the world is constantly telling us, we need to keep exercising as we get older, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great way to help us do that.
Ready to Get Started?
Easton Training Center’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program has classes for students of every level. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned brown belt, you’ll find training at our academies to be fun and challenging.
Our Fundamentals program teaches the essentials of offense and defense from the foundational positions. You’ll learn self-defense techniques for real life situations. From there, you’ll start to build your own game in live training, or Randori. In our advanced classes, you’ll learn the finer points of sport Jiu-Jitsu from the best instructors in Colorado.