Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to buy a gi (uniform) to be a student at Gracie South?
Students who only wish to attend no-gi submission wrestling and kickboxing classes are not required to purchase a gi. However, we strongly encourage any prospective student to consider attending gi jiujitsu classes for a number of reasons: Belt rankings are assigned and evaluated through gi training, and many of the fundamental techniques taught in gi class may also be adapted for work out of gi. Gi jiu-jitsu is also good for building strength and improving conditioning.
Do I have to spar (roll)?
No one will force you to spar (or “roll” as sparring is called in jiu-jitsu) if you do not want to. However, it is an integral part of the learning process, and most – if not all – students learn to enjoy it. While injuries can and do happen in any martial art, physically harming an opponent is not the objective of rolling. Rather, it is an opportunity to test what the student has learned and his or her ability to apply it in an unpredictable, live situation.
Is jiu-jitsu just a sport or will I learn self-defense?
It’s both! Jiu-jitsu is becoming one of the most popular combat sports in the world, with the number of organized tournaments growing every year. Despite that, jiu-jitsu has also stayed true to its origin as a powerful system of self-defense born in the streets of Brazil.
Will I be required to compete?
No, although many students enjoy doing so. If you’d like to get involved, ask an instructor about upcoming tournaments.
How dangerous is jiu-jitsu?
Participating in any full-contact sport or martial art is inherently risky, but injuries are rare at Gracie South, and when they do occur, they’re usually in the forms of bruises, scrapes or sprains.Training and rolling are done on thick, soft mats under the supervision of experienced instructors. Students are free to “tap out” at any time during a roll, and are encouraged to do so the moment that they feel discomfort.
What do I call the teacher?
We enjoy a very informal, friendly atmosphere here at Gracie South, and all of our instructors prefer that you call them by their first names.
Will I be expected to bow or anything like that?
No, not at all! You’ll find that attending Gracie South may be different from other martial arts experiences that you’ve had. No one bows or refers to the instructors as “sensei” or “master.” There aren’t any oaths that you’ll be repeating, either. Just show up ready to train, and be sure to take your shoes off before you walk onto the mat. That’s it!
What are the belts and how do I earn them?
The belts are white, blue, purple, brown, black, Advanced black belt practitioners may go on to earn the black/red belt and then red belt. Belts represent degrees of experience and training in jiujitsu. Unlike other martial arts, there are very few belts and progress from one to the other is comparatively slow. It usually takes between one and two years to advance from white belt to blue belt. While this might be frustrating for people looking for “bragging rights”, we feel that it is important that no student be promoted before his or her time. In most cases, your instructor will decide when you are ready to advance.
What do those stripes mean?
The strips you may see on belts are given in recognition of progress made on the journey from one belt to the next. A student may be awarded up to four stripes, but it should be noted that a belt promotion may still be some time away, even after he or she receives a forth stripe. Your instructor will decide when you are ready for a stripe.
How long will it take me to earn a black belt?
It varies from person to person, but on average it takes more than a decade of committed study to earn a black belt. It is a long, arduous journey that only the most committed students complete.
Am I too old or out of shape to start training?
If you’re worried about being older, overweight, out of shape or tired, then you not do so. Our students come in all shapes, sizes and ages! Actually, jiu-jitsu is a fantastic way to get in shape, and with care, it can be studied for a lifetime. Many of our students have seen substantial weight loss and/or gains in strength and endurance through training.
What if I have an injury or medical condition?
If you think that an existing medical condition or injury may interfere with your training, just let one of our instructors know. If possible, we will help you to work around any limitations you may have!