What do I need to wear to my first class:

Anything you would normally wear for a day at the gym – sweats and a t-shirt. As a courtesy, we ask that you make sure nails are trimmed (hands and feet) to avoid any erstwhile scratches!

How will the first class go?

We strongly encourage first time grapplers to stop in on the beginner’s days, as those classes are tailor fitted for someone just starting their jiu-jitsu practice. However, even if time only allows you to drop in on one of our Intermediate/Advanced Classes, the flow will be the same: You will get individualized attention, be walked through all the movements, and be under the watchful eye of one of our instructors. We warm up (jiu-jitsu centric movements done in sequence to get the muscles and joints loose), then work on a short chain of techniques for about 15-20 minutes. No beginners have to roll (spar) if they do not want to. The beginners classes do not have a rolling component, and any new members are encouraged to watch the more advanced practitioners roll but in no way are they just thrown in. You do not roll until we think it is safe for you to do so, and, just as importantly, you feel comfortable doing so.

What is with the uniform?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s proud lineage can be traced back to the Japanese art of Judo. They wore Gi’s, and thus the tradition was passed on. Do not worry – while we always encourage you to pick one up, you can start your training without one. Once you get bitten by the jiu jitsu bug, however, you are more than likely going to want to nab one just to open up the schedule for more classes for you. The Gi adds a deeply tactical aspect to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice, and is a core component of a well-rounded grappling game.

But there is all this rolling and sweating and touching…I don’t know about this…

True, BJJ is a practice that involves getting in personal spaces, and having people get in yours. There is simply no way around this. Yet, this is not to say that you have to jump right in and flop all over the place with everyone! If there is one overriding principle with our classes, it is this: You do only what you feel secure doing. The beauty of jiu-jitsu itself is that the concepts and techniques employed can be adapted to any body type; the elegance in the instruction at Black Hole is that it can accommodate any comfort level. If the prospect of people being constantly in your personal space gives you the willies (and this is something that even more advanced grapplers deal with from time to time) then we can and will ease into. You can still take classes. And learn to defend yourself. And start to connect with your body in the new and exciting ways that only Jiu Jitsu can initiate. The rest can come at a pace that feels natural.

Will I ever get this? Will I ever fit in?

The start of any new activity brings with it anxiety – this is natural and unavoidable. Its what you do with this anxiety that makes the difference: Does it fuel you to keep learning, or keep you from exploring what we promise can be a life-changing experience? There is a learning curve in BJJ. As the saying goes “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” At times it will seem like a whirling mass of limbs and joints, with no rhyme or reason and no semblance of a road map to success. So many things can be out of your control during a class, but there are two things that you will always have control over: Your breath, and your presence. If you keep tabs on the former, and eventually learn to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations, the applications to this principle will be endless: Both on the mats and working into and out of tough spots, as well as off the mats in any set of circumstances that might seem initially overwhelming…if you just breath, and relax as much as you can, you will weather whatever the storm is and be able to collect yourself and progress. As for the latter…you WILL get this if you just keep showing up. That’s the secret to Jiu Jitsu – just show up. Countless people have either been discouraged at first glance, or after their first really tough class, or even months in when they seem to hit a plateau in their skill development. The answer? Keep coming back. That’s it. Your coaches and teammates will take care of the rest.

And as for the “fitting in” portion of the question? There are all walks of life represented at Black Hole: We have doctors, lawyers, laborers, students, the unemployed…all political views are amply represented, as are all religions and ethnic backgrounds, along with age groups. How can we all seem to mix so well, being from such seemingly disparate ideological landscapes? None of it matters on the mats. This is part of the reason that people get hooked on training: Who or what you are outside of the gym is of little consequence when learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, all that is important is being a great classmate and rolling partner. That’s how everyone gets better. And that’s how we’ve built Black Hole into what it is: A fun, and safe, place to train.

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