What Do You Do In A Jujitsu Class, Exactly?
See the Jujitsu-basics page for a more complete answer. Likewise, see the
Instructors page for more information about the instructors at Hillcrest. To see what it “looks
like”, see the Technique Examples & Highlights page for clips from recent Hillcrest belt-tests and
an instructor demo.
The class format is usually divided into two parts. The first half consists of a warmup,
rolling/falling practice, “basics”, and some grappling/sparring. The second half consists of
technique instruction, and ends with all students demonstrating those techniques.
How Is Jujitsu Different Than Other Martial Arts?
A complex question, but in short, Jujitsu is an ancient system of unarmed combat that
encompasses standing techniques as well as ground grappling. Jujitsu’s strikes, sweeps, throws,
and joint locks, etc., were designed for self-defense. It is a very “hands-on” system, in contrast
to some other systems that teach primarily by kata. Jujitsu features prominently in UFC-type
events, however there are some important similarities and differences to understand between
training for competition and training for self-defense, as well how we reality-check training.
Doesn’t All That Falling Hurt?
Sometimes yes. Mostly no. That’s why we practice things like falling and the safe and proper
execution of techniques, and we also do them on padded mats (in fact, almost all of the dojo’s
floor is padded). As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the harder you slap the easier it is. If that
explanation didn’t make any sense, believe us, just try it on the mat and you’ll see.
Can Anybody Learn Jujitsu?
Absolutely. Jujitsu is an excellent activity for both men and women, and boys and girls. See the
About Jujitsu at Hillcrest page for more information about self-defense aspects. To provide the
best possible instruction to all students in the junior division, Hillcrest usually requires students to
be at least 6 years old. Please speak to the instructors for more information.
Do You Break Boards And Stuff Like That In Jujitsu?
No. As Bruce Lee once said, “boards don’t hit back.”
What Kind of Equipment Do You Need?
For trial lessons, just yourself and some loose-fitting clothing (e.g., sweatpants and a t-shirt).
Regular students are expected to purchase a uniform (gi) from the dojo at a reasonable price.
Males should wear a cup for the obvious reasons. It’s also a good idea to eventually buy a pair
of bag-gloves when we workout on the heavy-bags on the basement (usually can be purchased
for $10-$15 at a sporting goods store).
Why Do Some People Wear Black Gis And Some Wear White?
At Hillcrest, students wear white gis, and instructors wear black gis (note: these rules can vary
by schools and systems). A black belt does not automatically mean that one wears a black gi.
Black belts must also accrue enough “teaching time” to qualify for full instructor status.
How Do I Start? Can I Just Show Up To A Class?
Yep. It’s that simple. 1st week is free (trial week). The only request is that you show up on
time and talk to one of the instructors before class so they can give you an overview and answer
any last minute questions.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Black Belt?
That depends. Specifically, on you. Somebody who regularly practices techniques outside of
class will usually progress faster than somebody who does not. While the technique
requirements are documented per rank, the timetables are not set in stone. When you’re ready to
test for the next belt, the instructors will let you know. However, if you’re still interested in
getting a range-estimate for this question, “on average, between 4 and 6 years” is a reasonable
rule-of-thumb, ceteris paribus.
The belt levels at Hillcrest are white, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, and black.
See the Instructor Demo page for video samples of techniques done by instructors.
What Are Belt Tests Like?
More straightforward than you’d probably think. The student proceeds through the categories of
techniques and performs them with an uke. The hardest part is that there is no prompting, and
no notes allowed. The student is expected to know (and execute) all the techniques required for
that belt-level from memory. Tests are also comprehensive (i.e., everything from your belt-level
and below, not just the new stuff) so consequently the higher the belt-level the longer the test.
After the techniques there is also sparring and grappling. See Belt-Test Preparation for specifics
on how to prepare for a test.
For the upper belts, Jim likes to throw in a few surprises, but that’s only at the upper-belt level.
For lower belts (e.g., yellow to green) the focus is more on the number of techniques, such as 5
bearhugs for yellow and 10 for green, etc. For the upper-belts (purple and up) the difference is
less about the number of new techniques and more about the smoothness of execution, and the
ability to execute smoothly from both sides (e.g., throw from the right side as well as left, etc.)
Learning never stops at any level, but for higher-belts new understandings tend to be more subtle.
To underscore the last point, there are certainly well over a thousand different techniques
between all the variants of Jujitsu (Goshin, Aiki, Brazillian, etc.) and many more when
considering other martial arts systems. Nobody knows everything. Hillcrest strives to develop
students competent in a self-defense system that works for their body-type and natural skillset.
As Jim likes to say, rather than force-fitting you into the art, “the art becomes you.”
Can Children Receive A Black Belt?
Yes. They can receive a junior division black belt, which requires a reduced set of techniques as
compared to the adult ranks. When junior black-belts, for example, are old enough to enter the
adult classes they will enter as blue-belts.
See the Junior Division page for a few clips & pictures of the juniors in action.
Are Private Lessons Available?
Instructors are available for lessons outside of class (cost depends on rank of instructor),
however semi-private lessons are preferred. Because Jujitsu is a grappling art, 1-on-1 lessons
tend to not be the most effective way to instruct. It’s very difficult for an instructor to properly
critique a student’s throw, for example, if the instructor is being used as the uke (likewise with
sweeps, bearhugs, etc.). There are more than few aspects of Jujitsu that can be taught well
1-on-1, but there are even more that cannot because of the requirement for instructor
Speak with an instructor if you still have questions about this.
Are Lower-Belts Used As Training Dummies For Upper-Belts?
No. If anything, it’s the reverse. Being able to uke is sometimes called “the other half of the
art.” Students need to learn not just to perform techniques, but also to receive them. The uke
serves an important role in technique feedback for the tori (e.g., if a peel doesn’t feel right, if a
block seems too high/low/soft, etc.). Through practice, an uke learns to stay relaxed, improve
their reaction times, and to “give” at the right moment, providing not only a more realistic target
for the tori, but improving their own skills as well.
Where Can I Obtain More Information About Jujitsu?
See the Links page for references.