Frequently Asked Questions about martial-arts training


How do I prepare for my first Jiu-Jitsu class? What do I need to bring to class?

Please show up 10 to 15 minutes prior to your scheduled class time so we can go through a brief orientation to our Academy. If you have any type of physical disability or illness, please check with your doctor before coming. And just bring clothes you can work out in.

Is there a limit to the number of Jiu-Jitsu classes I can take?

We do not like to limit the number of classes our students can participate in, but we do have different types of memberships. Come in and meet the instructors, view the facility and we can discuss the proper membership for you.

What type of mats do you have?

At Team Maryland BJJ we only use the best mats in the world, Zebra Mats! You will enjoy training on the same mats used in the Olympics and Grappling tournaments all over the world. Our Tatami mats are thoroughly cleaned every night to provide safe and clean training environment.

Is Judo or Jiu-Jitsu training suitable for kids?

Yes, training is perfect for kids! Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is based off techniques that use leverage and natural body movements. It is great for developing balance, flexibility, and giving kids strong, natural body development.

What is the minimum age for a child to be enrolled in the Judo or Jiu-Jitsu program?

Our childrens program is designed for students starting at the age of 4.

What is Judo, and how did it start?

Judo is a sport, a system of self-defense, and a method of training the body, founded in 1882 by the renowned educator and martial artist Jigoro Kano. Kano, who was the head of various schools and colleges in Japan, studied Japanese Jiu-Jitsu with many masters of the art, starting in his teens. He took pieces of each system, removed the most deadly and dangerous techniques, and presented it to the world as Judo. Its most prominent characteristic is its canon of devastating throws, in which a person can use an opponent’s strength and momentum to his or her advantage. Judo also includes “groundwork” like pins, chokes, and armbars.

Kano -- who was fluent in English and thoroughly familiar with Western ideas of education --  had goals that were remarkably high-minded for his day: He wanted Judo to be a system of physical education for people all over the world, helping to unite people from different cultures and to illuminate one’s inner life. Judo, he believed, would help a person identify his or her own weaknesses, and strengthen that person. Judo was built around two ideals: seiryoku zen'yo or “maximum efficiency with minimum effort,” and jita kyoei or “mutual welfare and benefit.”

Today, Judo is a prominent Olympic sport, and one of the most popular individual sports in the world -- particularly in France, England, Germany, Russia, Brazil, and, of course, Japan. Recently, high-ranking Olympic Judo champions have emerged from countries like Greece, Israel, Georgia, and Mongolia. And many Judo champions have gone on to successful careers in mixed martial arts -- among them, Fedor Emelianenko, Karo Parisyan, Hidehiko Yoshida, Ronda Rousey, and more.

What's the difference between Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

One of Jigoro Kano’s students, Mitsuyo Maeda, travelled the world as a professional fighter. He spent his last years mostly in Brazil, where he taught Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu techniques to Carlos Gracie. Carlos, in turn, further developed those techniques with his brother, Helio, to create Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Although Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu come from similar roots, a person watching a Judo and a BJJ side-by-side would see two different arts. While the Judo fighters would stand, trying to knock each other down with explosive throws, the BJJ fighters might quickly -- even voluntarily -- go to the ground and continue the struggle there. BJJ has perfected the art of ground fighting, using graceful sweeps, pins, arm bars, leg locks, chokes, and other methods to submit an opponent. Since many real-life fights go to the ground, BJJ is considered essential to people who want to study self-defense. BJJ fighters -- like Royce Gracie, Nick Diaz, BJ Penn, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and many others -- have come to dominate the mixed-martial-arts world.

Can women do Judo and BJJ?

Absolutely. Women have long been a part of both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu -- in fact, some of the most prominent Judo and BJJ players in the world right now are women. (Count among them Kayla Harrison, the 2012 American Olympic gold medalist in judo; Penny Thomas, a South African world champion in BJJ; Kyra Gracie, a BJJ world champion who is a member of the famous Gracie family; and Ronda Rousey, the Olympic bronze medalist in Judo who is now one of the most famous mixed martial artists in the world.) Women are always welcome at our club, and we believe they will find an open and supportive atmosphere among the guys. Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, as highly effective martial arts, are especially good for women to learn. Click here to find out more about our Women Fight Back! program.

Do I have to be in top physical condition to do Judo or BJJ?

No. Any athletic endeavor needs some baseline of physical fitness, but both Judo and BJJ were created in part to help people achieve fitness. In the process of doing Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, you will build arm, leg, and core strength by lifting and throwing your partners, passing their “guard” to get into a pin, and holding them down. When it comes to weight lifting, there is nothing like throwing another human body that doesn’t want to be thrown!

Incidentally, Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are also practiced by people who have disabilities of various sorts. Blind judoka, in particular, have garnered national and international attention in the Paralympic Games. Jean Jacques Machado, one of the most famous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters, has a birth defect known as Amniotic band syndrome, leaving him with only a thumb and a little finger on his left hand.  

Are Judo and Jiu-Jitsu  effective forms of self-defense on the street?

Yes. Training in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a particularly effective combination. A Judoka can end a confrontation with a concussive throw, and practitioners of Judo or BJJ can dominate an opponent on the ground. Those who train in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu specifically work on street-style defense techniques, like disarming assailants with guns or knives, or defending against punches and other forms of aggression. Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are essential to the rough world of mixed martial arts, and both arts are a staple in the hand-to-hand combat studied by soldiers, police officers, and security personnel.

That said, at Maryland Judo & Jiu-Jitsu, we do not teach the martial arts on a basis of fear. Many of the people who study Judo or BJJ will never get into a street fight and never have to use their techniques in a real-world situation. While the martial arts are great for building confidence and might even save your life one day, we hope that most people study Judo and Jiu-Jitsu for the pleasure it brings every time you throw or roll on the mat, and for the friends you meet at the club.

Will I get injured playing Judo and Brazilian Jiu-JItsu?

Sometimes BJJ and Judo can be rough, and high-level competitors get their share of knocks, sprains, and bruises -- just as you find in any sport. But most people who play Judo or BJJ are never seriously injured and enjoy doing those martial arts well into old age. Since they are individualized sports, each person can find a suitable, individual level of intensity. No one at the Maryland Judo & Jiu-Jitsu Academy will tell you that you’re “not going hard enough” or that you need to “toughen up” -- that is, unless you want us to. (Some people like being pushed.)

The Academy strives to make Judo and Jiu-Jitsu practice as safe as possible. We practice throws onto thick crash pads, and we minimize the use of dangerous techniques, which are done only under careful supervision.


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