Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Jiu-jitsu?
Jiu-jitsu is a largely empty-handed Japanese martial art that includes integrated throws, arresting techniques and grappling (both standing and on the ground).  Jiu-jitsu is derived from the Samurai sword, earlier grappling styles and Chinese influences, and is the fore-runner to many more recent martial arts, notably Judo, Aikido, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Sambo, Krav Maga, and much military unarmed combat. More details.

2. What is Judo?
Judo is a late 19th century synthesis of several styles of jiu-jitsu.  It's original emphasis was away from martial art (-jitsu) to way (-do), emphasizing personal and social development over pure survival.  However, since the passing of its founder and admission into the olympic games mainstream judo has gone more sportive and competition oriented.  I refer to the earlier form as classical Judo.

3. What is the difference between Jiu-jitsu and Karate, Taekwondo, etc?
The various Karate styles are fist and foot systems (kick and punch), and taekwondo is similar, but with even more kicking (nowadays).  Jiu-jitsu is more about throwing and grappling.  There are overlaps.  Some of my students have opted to switch to jiu-jitsu as they became older.

4. What about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is really an offshoot of early judo, specializing in ground-grappling, and the fore-runner to mixed martial arts (MMA).  With the rise in popularity of MMA there are a lot of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu classes springing up.  Which is best for you?

5. What are the initial barriers to learning Jiu-jitsu?
Fear of falling; dislike of close body contact; reluctance to experience or inflict pain.

6. What's a good martial art for children?
I recommend looking at classes offering Judo, Aikido and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.  Many children like to wrestle, and Judo  and BJJ both build on that.  Aikido is less overtly agressive, and that may suit some children better.  The more dangerous and overtly aggressive techniques of Jiu-jitsu, and fist and foot techniques can wait for greater maturity.  Most important is finding a class that your child enjoys, where the instruction is excellent, and safety is a priority.  Skill building and enjoyment should be emphasized over competition and rank advancement.

1. Why jiu-jitsu?
Self-defence (adaptable to many situations), a challenge for your mind and body, all-round fitness, stress relief, and fun!  More.

2. Why classical judo?
Personal and social development, technical excellence, learning to learn (and teach), some friendly competition.

3. Why learn jiu-jitsu or classical judo instead of martial art X?
I believe that all martial arts, when taught really well have much to recommend them.  Accordingly, I recommend looking around at a few classes.  Try to assess a class based on instructor, school, and personal fit, rather than simply the "brand" of a particular style.

Personally, I found that I was able to progress more rapidly in jiu-jitsu and classical judo than in the other systems that I tried early on, and so those were the ones I stuck with.  I attribute my own progress to the quality of my instructors and their teaching system, along with the constant feedback from partner-work that jiu-jitsu and classical judo give, plus my own diligence, curiosity and enthusiasm.

4. Why not jiu-jitsu or classical judo?
You abhor violence, even in self-defence; already train in several other martial arts; your absolute priority is winning; you can't commit to regular training.  Longer answer.

5. Why shouldn't I train in lots of martial arts at once?
It can be confusing, much like learning several languages at once.  Better to get a good foundation in one style first.  Jiu-jitsu and classical judo work well together because they have significant overlap, and the principles do not conflict.  In our Federation we also offer instruction in Hung kuen Chinese Boxing, which is a complementary fist and foot style.

1. How does your grading system work?
There are 12 student grades (kyu).  Students start at white belt (ungraded), and progress through purple, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown belts.  Each belt has two grades, marked with stripes.  Gradings are held twice a year.  After brown belt comes provisional black belt, and then there are 10 master grades ("dans").

2. How long do I need to train until my first grading and what does it involve?
A minimum of 25 sessions of training plus the recommendation of your instructor is required before you can take the first grade (12th kyu).  You will be required to demonstrate techniques and knowledge to a panel of black belts (usually three).  A partner will be available to demonstrate techniques on, and to serve as an attacker to demonstrate reflexive self-defence against common attacks.  Later gradings follow a similar scheme.  Points earned in a separate qualification contest, held under our own judo rules, also contribute to your grading score.

3. How will previous martial arts training help or hamper my progress?
Previous training will be helpful in-so-far as you will be likely be familiar with the etiquette and expected commitment and attitude of training.  To the extent that your previous martial art(s) share principles with jiu-jitsu, you will have a head start; to the extent that the underlying principles conflict, you may find that you have some difficult unlearning to do.

4. How often should I train?
Most people start with one class per week.  That's enough to get started and make initial progress.  Once you can fall safely and your body has been conditioned so that you are not sore for several days, you can pick up a second or third weekly class.  Practicing the movements outside of class without a partner as part of general fitness training is also a very good idea.  I took up Hung kuen chinese boxing in part so that I could do solo training every day.  You can do this in jiu-jitsu too; it just needs more imagination, since it is not explicitly taught.

5. Where can I go for additional classes?
Our Honbu (HQ) dojo has classes every day of the week, of a very high standard.  You will get to train with other students under highly qualified instructors, all of whom trained extensively under the late Kancho Barry Bradshaw.

6. How long does it take to earn a black belt in your style of Jiu-jitsu?
It depends on the individual.  Ten years of consistent and diligent training to provisional black belt (assistant instructor level) is a rough guide, although it can be done in less.

Of course, getting to black belt should not be an end in itself, but rather a rite of passage along the way.

7. How can I progress at jiu-jitsu?
Train regularly, train hard, but don't burn out.  Be prepared to make mistakes and be open to learning.  Teach others.  Be a good -- no: great -- partner in pair-work.   When you think you have a technique or principle figured out, think again and look deeper.  Seek to develop sensitivity and skill over raw attributes such as strength, speed and flexibility.  Ask questions.  And don't forget to have fun!