My short beginners course in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

I recently took a beginners’ course in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I’ve been intrigued by the sport for many years and was very excited to see that a Roger Gracie Academy opened in Reading last year.  Roger Gracie is the grandson of the founder of the art, Carlos Gracie, and is a 10 time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion. The Gracie family has been the driving force in the growth of BJJ and a revolution in the martial art around the world.

The Reading based club is called Mathouse.  It is run by Dominik Debiec who is a Black Belt under Roger Gracie and is two times European Champion. The vision for the academy is to offer top Jiu-Jitsu instruction in a friendly, positive and goal driven environment and it succeeds in this. Upon signing up, I was given a gi or kimono which is the suit that you wear.  Recently, there has been a spin off from traditional gi based BJJ to no gi BJJ where practitioners typically wear board shorts and rash vests possibly stolen from Surfers. But, as Dominik rightly stated, it is better to learn the fundamentals of gi based BJJ before branching out into no-gi BJJ which, incidentally, Mathouse also offers as a class. So onto the first lesson, which is how to wear your gi. Unfortunately, this caught me out, I had them on backwards.


The short course was spread over 4 weeks, with instruction every Tuesday.  It covered some basic self-defence and then moved onto the fundamentals of the sport. I was hooked immediately.  Pun intended, hooks are part of the nomenclature and there is quite a bit of it. In follow up posts, I will explain what kimura, omoplata and various other terms mean.

Mathouse follows the same ethos that all Roger Gracie Academies follow. They are well known for fostering an exceptional atmosphere and all members are treated as part of a big family. The result is a relaxed and enjoyable place in which to train. Egos are left at the door and there is mutual respect for all practitioners in the academy, no matter what grade they are.