With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down martial arts academies across the world, understanding how to utilize resources to teach yourself a skill has been more important than ever. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a highly technical martial art that has been traditionally taught in person, with a seasoned practitioner teaching, demonstrating and providing feedback.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t teach yourself Jiu-Jitsu. And because of the internet, it’s much more of a feasible task than in the past when it wasn’t so easy to accumulate information.
To teach yourself Jiu-Jitsu, there are three main components you’ll need to focus on, strength and conditioning, technique and introspective research. And the three best ways for you to learn it are by signing up for online courses, purchasing books and deep-diving into YouTube tutorial videos and online articles.
Teaching yourself a new skill always has pros and cons associated with it, and that’s no different with Jiu-Jitsu.
Top 3 Ways for You to Teach Yourself Jiu-Jitsu at Home
BJJ is one of the most popular martial arts in the western world right now, and it’s something you can teach yourself. Now, you’ll likely get the most out of BJJ by practicing it in person under the tutelage of a black belt or seasoned veteran. But, if that’s not possible for you, or you’d rather teach it yourself in the comfort of your own space, then you’ll need to adopt resources that will help you.
A lot of BJJ academies offer online courses that are full of tutorial videos, notes and sometimes live Zoom sessions. There are also countless Jiu-Jitsu books on the market, as well as online videos on platforms such as YouTube.
An important thing to remember is that having a friend, family member or spouse around to aid you in drilling a technique will help you get the most out of at-home teaching. It’s not as necessary to have another body around for the conditioning and researching aspects of teaching yourself, however. At the end of the day, if you are flying solo in this self-teaching journey, that’s okay too.
Enrolling in online classes, reading Jiu-Jitsu books and watching and reading free online content are different ways you can teach yourself Jiu-jItsu. But possibly the best strategy is to use a combination of all three things to bolster your learning.
Enrolling In Online Classes
The easiest way for you to teach yourself Jiu-Jitsu at home is by enrolling in an online program through an accredited gym or team. With this method, you will receive step-by-step instructions for technique, as well as strength and conditioning, depending on who you decide to go with.
These online programs are fantastic because they will supply you with a structure, and a well though-out path for learning and growing in the martial art. The best programs are offered by some of the biggest names in the Jiu-Jitsu world. For example, Gracie University boasts several different courses that you can choose from, including the Gracie Combatives Beginner Program, The 32 Principles of Jiu-Jitsu and FITjitsu.
Gracie University also offers live classes online through Zoom.
Enrolling in online courses is typically the most expensive option for you to choose if you prefer to teach yourself Jiu-Jitsu at home, but there is a lot of value that you’ll get by receiving instruction in a structured way.
Reading Jiu-Jitsu Books
Another effective way to learn Jiu-Jitsu is by reading books. There is no shortage of BJJ literature out there, and they tackle everything from technique, mindset, general concepts and much more. “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique,” is written by respected BJJ minds Royler and Renzo Gracie, as well as Kid Peligro and John Danaher. The title of the book is exactly what it’s about.
Couple with photos, different Jiu-Jitsu techniques are broken down step by step. And you’ll come to understand the theory behind different submissions.
This book is just an example of one of countless others on the market. Compared to taking an online course, it may be harder to feel motivated to read a book, depending on the individual. Book learning may take a little more discipline as you won’t get the visual and verbal queues and instructions from a coach.
But, books supply tried and true ways of learning new skills, and if you’re on a mission to teach yourself Jiu-Jitsu, the bookstore may be the perfect place to start.
If you’re more of an auditory learner, you can always purchase Kindle versions of select BJJ books as well, especially if you want to digest Jiu-Jitsu theory and history and don’t need to see any visuals. And another great thing that the internet has brought us is social media and online blogs. You can comb the internet for BJJ training literature as well, whether it be on Reddit or through our website!
Watching Free Video Tutorials
I just mentioned scouring the internet for free content to read about Jiu-Jitsu, and you can also find free videos on platforms like YouTube that can help you teach yourself martial arts. YouTube is an awesome place for individual Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to upload their own video content, which means there is a ton of fantastic, free lessons available for you to consume.
You can expect to find short videos that contain a high-level belts breaking down everything from chokes to the history of Jiu-Jitsu.
And since it won’t cost you anything to watch their videos, one of the best things you can do for them is to click the thumbs-up icon on their video, as well as comment on it and subscribe to their channel.
And with commenting, you’ll have a chance to ask the creator a question if you don’t understand, or you need something clarified. Another benefit of YouTube, as well as other social media platforms, is that some of the most viewed Jiu-Jitsu channels have built somewhat of a community, and you may find and interact with someone who is also teaching themself, and in turn, learn from them.
Three Main Components to Focus On to Become a Well-Rounded BJJ Practioner
So, what should you teach yourself? There are three things that you should focus on if you plan on starting this Jiu-Jitsu journey at home. You’ll want to have solid strength and conditioning, you’ll need to spend hours and hours learning techniques and you should give yourself time to reflect and write in a journal.
Strength & Conditioning
Now, of course, everyone will have different resources when it comes to teaching themselves Jiu-Jitsu. From a strength and conditioning aspect, you may be inclined to road run and do calisthenics, especially if you don’t have a gym to go to or fitness equipment at home to use.
Every BJJ practitioner is different, and strength and conditioning needs and abilities can range from one person to another. It’s always best to consult a doctor or fitness expert before you start a new training program, especially if you haven’t been active as of late.
Practing Jiu-Jitu Techniques
Drilling technique is what you’ll likely spend most of your time doing. You’ll need to make sure you’ve cleared an adequate amount of space in your home or wherever you are practicing. Buying mats to work on would also be a great investment. Of course, practicing different movements, submissions and controls with another person is the way Jiu-Jitsu is usually done.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a lot of things by yourself. Staple things like sprawling, technical standing, rolling and bridging can all be learned and practiced by yourself.
For most submissions and guard work, try and recruit another friend who wants to learn Jiu-Jitsu, or someone who will allow you to practice on them.
Utilizing a Journal for Introspection
A phenomenal thing to use when teaching yourself Jiu-Jitsu is a journal. Reflection is a very powerful tool, as it helps you understand how you felt doing something, reminds you what you did and how you did it.
You can use the journal to record your progress on certain drills and techniques, as well as your strength and conditioning. Writing down your thoughts on a specific workout or training session is a popular thing to do with a journal, as it allows you to remember the mindset you had, and how it potentially affected your Jiu-Jitsu.
Most of us overestimate our memory, especially in the short term. After a few weeks, you may forget certain details about a practice that you were proud of, down on or even progress that you made. Taking the time journal after every practice will help alleviate that.
The Downsides of Teaching Yourself Jiu-Jitsu at Home
Realistically, learning Jiu-Jitsu at a gym is the best way to go. Although you can teach yourself a lot, it’s very hard to mimic live training with other practitioners, as well as real-time instruction from a black belt or experienced BJJ enthusiast.
It’s very important to feel what it’s like to be grappling with another person, whether it be to fundamentally understand the martial art, the fatigue that comes with it, or the excitement of trying out new techniques.
No Training Partners
Maybe the biggest downside of teaching yourself Jiu-Jitsu is that you might not have a training partner to work with. When you’re at a gym, there are several bodies for you to train with, ranging from skill, experience and size. You’ll develop much quicker as a martial artist if you are able to get the live experience of rolling with different individuals relative to training solo.
As mentioned before, if you’ve chosen to teach yourself, it’s a good idea to find another person to join you. You can also work with a loved one who isn’t training Jiu-Jitsu, however you won’t get as much value out of it from a progression standpoint.
If you don’t have anyone to practice with, then you won’t be able to work on several submissions, passes or controls, which obviously is not ideal.
Not Having an In-Person Teacher
A con of teaching yourself Jiu-Jitsu is that you won’t have an in-person instructor that can show you the ins and outs of BJJ in real time. Although you can watch videos with instructors, read books by instructors and purchase courses via instructors, that isn’t the same as having them with you in the flesh.
Having someone immediately correct a mistake and show a variable for a technique in the moment while giving advice is hard to replicate.
Not Enough Room In Your Training Area
Another common problem you may face if you take on this endeavor is not having an adequate amount of space to work with. Some Jiu-Jitsu drills and techniques require a lot of space, like rolling and double legging.
So, if you don’t have a big enough area, you may not be able to properly train aspects of Jiu-Jitsu, affecting your development as a BJJ practitioner.
Further, having mats to work on is crucial as you’ll be spending your time on the floor doing movements like rolling, shrimping and break falling.
Summing It Up
As I’ve laid out in this post, there are avenues you can take to teach yourself Jiu-Jitsu. There are numerous different online academies and courses you can sign up for that will supply you with a ton of resources and information. Some programs offer Zoom sessions as well, which is a fantastic tool to help develop your craft.
Online videos and articles are plentiful and they can also give you what you need to get started and sharpen your skills. These are typically free as well, which can be even more enticing than the online courses.
And of course, you can always purchase Jiu-Jitsu books for every facet of BJJ, including theory, technique and history.
You’ll want to focus on three main factors for the martial art, specifically strength and conditioning, technique and introspection. Teaching yourself Jiu-Jitsu is an alternative to learning it in-house at a gym, and much better than not learning it at all. But, you might not get everything you need from BJJ if you never make it inside an academy.