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First Day Lesson

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    Yep. I do it all the time. You sit up to follow the guy as he attempts the standing pass. You're already one one knee up, basically sitting guard. All you have to do from there is whip your other foot behind you, like a square drill, and hit the double. Very effective. I generally do the "rotational" double where you push with your head in the middle of their chest and pull up on the back of their legs, rather than the more traditional wrestling double.


      For those of you worrying that this is too much to teach on the first day, look again at what I'm teaching:

      Guard pass.
      Taking mount.

      Maybe I'm biased and that really is too much, but when it's being taught, it's sure seems like just 4 basic techniques.

      Realize that I'm not overloading them with all of the details I give above. Those are just included to help the person teaching the lesson spot and troubleshoot common problems. When I teach these moves, I demonstrate and explain each very simply ("Grab the arm, pull it to your chest. Grab the armpit. Trap the foot. Bridge.") I'll let them drill it several times before I start correcting anything, since most people just need to try it a couple times to get a feel for it and they'll do their own self-corrections when the move is obviously not working. Only once I see that they're getting it do I start adding anything ("Good! Now make sure you're pulling down on his armpit to help roll him over.")

      The reason I like this lesson is because it gives them a quick introduction to BJJ, with almost all major aspects present (escapes, passing guard, dominant positions, submission, etc.). Even if you don't explain it as such and even if they don't really "get" these points right away, they were still exposed to them and given a good idea of what they'll be doing in BJJ.

      Having a standard first lesson like this has been very useful. For a while, Eduardo was having to teach at two schools and sometimes I would end up running class. If I got a new student, I was not experienced enough to make up my own lesson, so I would just run through the above and it always went well.

      For every first class I've seen, I could think of counter-arguments to them. Let's teach mount -- no, a new person will never have mount since they'll be in bad positions so they need escapes more. Okay, let's teach escapes -- no, that's not fun enough so they won't get what BJJ is about. Okay, let's teach kimuras, they're fun -- no, it's bad to start people on submissions...

      Pretty much everything in BJJ is going to be weird and awkward for a new person, and they'll likely forget it all after their first class. So just pick something and go for it. I've come to think that it doesn't really matter what you teach as long as whatever it is gives them a good idea of what BJJ is like and makes them see that there is something there to learn.


        Zankou, yeah, I was still a bit sleepy when I glibbly replied. Good follow-up.

        Aesopian, are you going to run this a for a while on newbs and see how it pans out?


          It has been run on newbs for years now and it's worked well. It was the first lesson I learned in BJJ and I still value it.


            If this is something that has been in place for years, from CG, Jr. and presumably used throughout the Gracie Barra chain, and you have no ability to change or modify it, why exactly did you post it?

            Where you looking for comments on it or were you just posting it in a general forum for your personal reference?

            I have no opinion really one way or the other; it looks like a fine lesson plan, I'm just confused as to why it was posted when you seem a bit defensive about the suggestions and responses.


              Originally posted by Aesopian
              I'm putting together a tutorial on how to run the first class at my school and wanted to put the draft online so I'd have easy access to it.
              First line. And Garbanzo Bean asked to read it.


                Gotcha. So is this actually the lesson plan used by the Garcie Barra for first day newbs or is this something written up from your recollection and experience?


                  This is the first lesson taught at my school.


                    I find the topic of what to teach first and how to structure lessons interesting, but what I'm finding especially interesting is how little it seems to matter. Assuming you're teaching good techniques, it seems that anything will do as a first lesson.

                    I'll give you some examples.

                    I know someone who teaches a first lesson that consists of butterfly guard sweeps where you drive forward and stand up. His reason for this is because he finds that new people are more comfortable doing this than closing their guard on a stranger. It also teaches them to come on top as soon as they can, and since this may be his only lesson with them, he wants them to at least learn to create space, stand up and be able to run away in a self defense situation.

                    Those reasons are as good as any for me, but I'm sure some will object to starting them with an open guard, since that's supposed to be more advanced.

                    So on to another example.

                    I know a purple belt who was running open mats on the weekend at his school, and one day a woman showed up who wanted to try BJJ. They warned her that they were just going to work on whatever they felt like and that it wasn't going to be a normal class. She said that was fine and trained with them. She ended up learning nothing but x-guard.

                    Now I can already hear your gasps of outrage. "X-guard! To a white belt! Have you no moral conscious?" But here's where it gets good.

                    Later that week, my friend saw her training in a normal class. She was sparring and someone stood to pass her guard. She went straight to x-guard and swept them. She just did what she knew.

                    Another example of a first class, going to the opposite end of things, away from "advanced" moves.

                    This same friend first started BJJ back in 1992, before the UFCs made it cool, by visiting California and doing a single class at The Gracie Academy in Torrence. He said that it started with a private lesson from Rorion, who would do like I wrote above and mount the person and tell them to try to escape. He'd effortlessly stay on top. Then he'd reverse it and tell them to mount him and try to hold him down. Then he'd effortlessly upa escape over and over again. He'd then teach the upa and have them go train with the rest of the class.

                    Technique-wise, my friend only really left knowing the upa, but that was never really what mattered. The point of the lesson was to sell you on BJJ. It made him think "How can this guy hold me down so easily? This must just be impossible to escape this!" Then it made him think "This guy must have incredible knowledge if he can escape this easily!" Then it gave him his first bite of BJJ and he saw how simple it was. He then went back to all his fellow kempo buddies and was their premier ground fighter, being the only one who could upa.

                    So there is an example of the first lesson being almost exclusively as a sale.

                    Here's my personal example. It's wasn't my first class, but on probably my second no-gi night ever, in my first month of BJJ, I learned the reverse omoplata. At the time, it was as complicated and unusual as any other move in BJJ. So I just drilled it like I would any other move and it was given no special tag as a beginner or advanced move.

                    We all know how this turned out.

                    Consider all the different first lessons that are taught in all the different schools. I doubt one of them has THE LESSON that gives them the edge over all others just because they taught it on the first day.

                    So while I don't mind people commenting on what they would change in the lesson I wrote, or what they would teach instead, you'll have to forgive me if I'm not particular open to changing it.

                    Here's what I'll do.

                    At some point in the future, I will probably have a brand new student all to myself. Maybe I'll grab some kid out of my neighborhood and teach him in my new backyard training center. His first lesson is going to consist of defending the single leg by taking the crucifix. Then I'll move on to the basic crucifix choke and I'll finish with the reverse omoplata. From then on, we'll continue with all of the normal stuff like scissors sweeps, side control escapes, etc. But I'll keep returning to his "basics" on the crucifix and reverse omoplata.

                    Maybe I will be toying in the realm meant only for the BJJ Gods by doing this and will scar my white belt for life. Or maybe I'll just get a guy who does what everyone else does but also throws in a bunch of reverse omoplatas. These are risks I'm willing to take.
                    Last edited by Aesopian; 9/28/2006 12:36pm, .


                      Honestly I think the first day should just:

                      [1] Keep them safe.
                      [2] Let them have fun and build excitement about bjj.

                      There doesn't need to be much emphasis on learning. It's just intro. They could be learning ankle locks for all I care, so long as they don't get hurt and get excited about bjj.


                        I know what you mean. On my first night in karate, I was taught how to deflect a punch using gedan barrai, grasp the wrist in a manner remniscent of a particular bunkai from Seiuchin, and return fire with a shuto strike to the upper lip. While definitely an "advanced" move, I used it constantly in the sparring matches I held in my head.


                          Originally posted by Aesopian
                          First line. And Garbanzo Bean asked to read it.
                          He could have just sent it to me, but he decided to post it in DHS, thereby enriching the most important forum on the internet.
                          "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal


                            As for passing from knees or standing, I can find you an equal number of black belts on both sides of the issue, and I know all the arguments for and counter-arguments against either way.

                            So basically I think it's a personal preference and doesn't really matters.


                              While I agree in general with you that in someways it doesn't matter, I tend to take the approach I mentioned above (i.e. go over positions) as it will provide a context for later classes. As for your rev-omoplata scenario, you would probably have great results, that transfer across techniquess. You'd also probably end up with someone with a really fluid game.


                                inasmuch as you're using the mount demo as a de facto sales pitch, maybe it'd be a good idea to employ someone a bit more advanced than a blue or experienced white, particularly if the new guy is large or athletic. Rorion I'm sure can hold the mount against damn near anyone who comes through the door, but the illustration would lose a lot of its impact if your top guy were to get bucked off.



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