First Day Lessons
I've been teaching some classes lately, and last week I had the pleasure of instructing someone on their very first BJJ class. My school has a standard First Day Lesson, so I just stuck to that. It goes like this:
1. Upa escape from mount
2. Standing guard pass to 100 kilos
3. Hip switch to taking mount
4. Americana or cross collar choke
Each of these is taught and drilled on its own, and then (when all have been taught) done in a row, one after another.
An emphasis is placed on drilling, drilling, drilling, without a lot of questions, discussion or interpretation, especially with their partner (usually another white belt) because most problems will work themselves out if they just drilled it more. Afterall, they are usually doing things they've never done anything like before.
Here's some explanation of why these moves are taught first:
The upa teaches them one of the most important skills ever -- escaping mount. I'm sure you can understand the importance of that. It's usually taught after a little test where my instructor has the person lay down and get mounted and tells them to escape however they want (just without punching or eye gouging). They usually spaz out and fail. If they roll and give up their back he'll stop and ask them "Now, does this seem like a better or worse position?" and have the partner start setting up a RNC if they don't catch on quickly. This exercise make people realize "I don't know what I'm doing" and hopefully "But I need to learn."
The guard pass introduces them to passing the guard, and also teaches them proper base and posture and how to generate forward pressure while passing. 100 kilos gives them a simple side control to start.
The hip switch to taking mount teaches them a proper way to mount, and once in mount, they learn either an americana or cross collar choke (dependant on whether they have a gi or not).
As you've surely noticed, all of these moves flow from one to the next, and it is through this that the white belt learns to actively advance position and ultimately submit their opponent. Escape, pass guard, advance positions and then submission. Position before submission.
I feel this is a great first lesson, and always encourage white belts to continually drill it, especially back and forth with another white belt. If they just got these basic moves down cold, they would lay a solid foundation on which most of the rest of BJJ would build on very well.
The reason I bring all of this up is because 1) I thought you might find it interesting to see what and why Gracie Barra teaches first, and 2) I'm interested in hear what your school teaches as its first lesson. I know different schools and different instructors have different approaches and moves they like to teach.
So, what's your first lesson and why?
First Sequence I Learned Was Close The Distance, Clinch, Double-underhooks, Walk Him Down, Mount, Punch, Rear Mount, Rnc. The Idea Was That The Instant You Leave Class, You'll Have A Game Plan Ready If Someone Suddenly Attacked You.
I Probably Should Say Something About Lava, Shouldn't I? But I Won't.
My first lesson was:
Upa mount escape
Elbow-knee mount escape
Collar (X) choke
I get pawned off on new people fairly often, and while I don't have anything set in stone I go over with them, it normally goes something like this:
-teach the positions
-put them in a few submissions if need be, to show them that their arm won't break in an armbar, and a triangle won't kill them
-explain submitting and the importance of doing techniques in a safe manner
-last thing is a submission, generally an armbar from the guard
I think it's important to show atleast one thing to "hook" the people. The armbar from the guard is really a bjj mainstay, and something that many people are familar with. Though position is really the most important thing, it takes many people months, or even years to understand that... and when you're first starting out, it's alot easier to get excited about choking someone out (or armbaring them) than what seems like a lame guard pass.
There generic first lesson at my school is usually:
Originally Posted by Kengou
an explanation and demonstration of the positions (guard, side control, mount, etc)
scissor sweep from guard
a basic submission from the guard
and a stern talk about not spazzing out while rolling. This never seems to do any good, as Aesopian mentioned.
We actually have a basics night at my school (Thursdays) where we emphasize drilling a lot of the basic positions along with heavy conditioning. I absolutely love attending this class.
Last edited by Cassius; 12/20/2005 5:30pm at .
The first lesson I usually give involves:
A summary of basic positions, and the positional heirarchy
Tapping (about three reiterations does the job, usually)
Where to keep the arms in various positions.
Ankle lock from back mount (as object lesson not to cross the feet in back mount rather than actual submission)
Knee-through guard pass
Following this, I'll usually roll with the newbie, play with my food before unleashing the pwnage, and attempt to summarize and correct the myriad mistakes made during the roll.
I'm ambivalent as to whether lots of repetitive drilling actually helps a white belt all that much. I was initially trained using this approach, and I've noticed that the 'throw them to the wolves' approach at my current academy seems to produce better BJJers faster, as the newbies basically get a private instruction session during and after the roll from the more experienced guys, rather than drilling a move of currently dubious context(to the white belt in question) with someone equally clueless.
Originally Posted by Aesopian
Stating that yours is the way GB teaches is isn't really accurate. You see, I train at a Gracie Barra academy. I've trained at the Gracie Barra academy. From observation, the way newbies are treated/instructed at various GB-affiliated academies depends greatly upon the individual instructor.
Originally Posted by Aesopian
Incidentally, I've never seen newbies thrown so far into the deep end without any support as I have at Gracie Barra by Marcinho, Arroz, Flavio et. al. It seems to work to a certain extent, but for higher belts to take an interest in your development, you have to have achieved at least a strong blue/new purple belt level. If the aim of an academy is to build good fighters/competitors from the ground up, I would suggest that there are better models.
Last edited by NSLightsOut; 12/20/2005 7:08pm at .
We teach bridging escape from mount, basic leg-on-shoulder guard pass to side control, switch your base and mount. The person underneath then repeats and you've got a nice circuit.
I'm not sure about teaching a standing guard pass straight away - the less you give them to mess up the better I think. Especially on the first night. In the beginning you want the person to feel like they've walked away with some new skill and to feel encouraged to come back. So it has to be easy enough for them to remember, but also enough of a challenge to tease them into returning.
At my instructor's schools (Will-Machado), the white belts have their own class to protect them from the wolves and to keep the techniques at a suitable level - there's not much point teaching someone omoplata when they don't even know what a guard is. They also have a fairly strict syllabus they are require to know to be promoted to blue belt.
Last edited by JohnnyS; 12/21/2005 12:14am at .
My instructor is a Royler black belt and he teachs the same basics that Aesopian's school teaches, along with armbar from mount and rear mount/RNC.
Originally Posted by BenwaMandelbrot
Interesting, so is mine. Is he Brazilian? Does he cheer for himself when he trains with you?
He is a Brazilian guy. I haven't heard him cheering himself on but he giggles quietly to himself when we roll. That may just be a reflection on my present skill level though, particularly as sometimes he announces his intention to do a particular sweep about 30 seconds before doing it.
I think his most notable quote was "farts and BJJ go together like thongs and a beach."
He probably meant the shoes.