My First BJJ Experience

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A lot of people ask me about how I got started in BJJ.  My first exposure was like everyone, watching Royce Gracie walk through his opponents in  UFC 1.  Expecting a result more like Bloodsport, we sat there glued to our TVs watching this skinny guy in a gi, going through guys without getting a scratch on him.  What was this Gracie Jiu Jitsu?  What was this Royce guy doing and where could I learn it?  This was in 1993 and I was 20 at the time.

My only other martial arts experience before that was a few months of Tae Kwon Do that I had taken when I was 17 or 18.  I trained for a bit but that was enough.  From this experience I made for myself a summation of what the martial arts were about and it wasn’t very interesting.

I ended up going to Brazil for a non-BJJ related reason in 1994.  I was there only briefly, but while I was there, someone took me to the local Gracie school.  While I was there I remembered what I had seen of Royce and had no idea what to expect.  Here were a bunch of guys, in dirty white gis, grappling endlessly.  Stopping to converse in a language I had no understanding of.  I watched but did not understand a thing.  It was interesting to see.  They took it very serious and they all walked around with an almost fierce yet relaxed confidence.

A year later I ended up going back to Fortaleza for my 2nd time.  I had friends that were training this stuff there.  They tried to talk me in to going to train Jiu Jitsu.  For me the whole Royce Gracie experience had wore off and in the back of my mind all martial arts were like my first experience of TKD.  A couple months after arriving, one of my friends talked me going into a school to try it out (the same one I was to start training in 2 years later).  I went with a borrowed gi.  My Portuguese was not very good at the time so I was in class and not understanding a thing.  BJJ is hard enough to learn starting off, let alone trying to do it without understanding a word.  I didn’t stick it out.  Instead, I spent my time that I would have training at the beach.

It took until 1997, my 3rd trip back to Fortaleza, that I finally began training.  Again I was talked into going in to train.  This time, I was able to understand the instruction.  My first class was learning how to stand up in the guard.  It was interesting, the leverage, the details it takes to keep your center of balance, posture, foot work, and on and on.  At the end of class was the final thing that hooked me.  I was 24 at the time and in great condition.  The instructor put me with a 14 year old that weighed 45-50 lbs less than me.  He was a yellow belt and had been training for about 2 years.  Instructor told me to make him tap… and I tried and tried and tried without remotely coming close.  I was tossed around and submitted, swept, and anything this kid wanted to do to me.  It was amazing!!  I had never seen anything like this.

As a result of this experience, I bought a gi and began training 2x a day for the rest of my time in Brazil.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was something that I decided I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  14 years later and I still feel the same way.  Everyday I find details of a position or new ways of combining old positions.  BJJ is constantly changing for me.  You figure out a series or a sequence that you think works, you run it, refine it to make it even better, then you do it again on someone and it doesn’t work.  So you have to go back and reorder everything, rethink it and start again.  This is the beauty of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and you never stop developing your game.  BJJ is always changing and evolving for us.  Once you achieve a certain level of Jiu Jitsu you realize that there is no end to this thing!


Contact us for more information on how to train with us!

Carlson Gracie Indianapolis Jiu Jitsu

916 E. Main St.

Suite 111

Greenwood, IN. 46143



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