In my years of teaching Jiu-Jitsu to hundreds of students, I have found that each person brings his own set of skills, knowledge and ability into the academy. Each of those qualities helps the student to improve over time, while some may see success almost immediately, the majority of students need time to understand the techniques taught and drill those moves so that over time they become reaction rather than thought.
Typically, those interested in learning Jiu-Jitsu can be broken down into 3 major categories.
The Empty Cup
These are people who have interest in learning the Jiu-Jitsu for sport, MMA or self defense who have no prior training in the martial arts or wrestling. Having no prior experience can be a plus to learning Jiu-Jitsu in terms of being more accepting of the “fight strategy” that Jiu-Jitsu employs. As well, those with no experience generally come into the academy with a great interest, having seen our art used in the UFC and other MMA type events. They understand the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and tend to have a great deal of trust in the techniques of the art, having trust in the techniques can often be one of the biggest parts of becoming a good Jiu-Jitsu player.
The Black Belt
These are students that come in with some amount of experience in other arts such as; Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Judo, Aikido and Kung Fu to name but a few. There are many advantages to having prior experience in other martial arts such as having an established training discipline as well Martial Artist tend to have excellent coordination and can easily begin to develop their ground skills rather quickly. In many instances, many of the martial artist that come to our academy are looking to add the ground or takedown game to their existing arsenal of stand up fighting techniques. This is one of the best parts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as it does not attempt to convert a practitioner away from their tried and true method of self defense, instead it only looks to add to it by providing the practitioner with valuable information that their current art may not fully cover.
High school and collegiate wrestlers have the most success at the beginning of their training. Wrestlers already bring in a deep understanding of takedowns as well as controlling and transitioning movements on the ground. Wrestlers also bring in an intensity that is hard to match. Their coordination for the ground game is already in place in most cases and in short order once they understand the “rules” of how we approach the fight on the ground can modify their wrestling to enhance the techniques they will learn in our academy.
In the end, each individual regardless of their experience or athletic ability brings his own skill set and ability to learn and accept the techniques of Jiu-Jitsu. Some students “get it” quickly while others take some time, but in the end I can say that I’ve never had a student who was not able to use the techniques successfully. Every person who is interested in learning the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and commits to it will in the end find success on the mats.