It is common to see BJJ camps as advertised for all levels, welcoming beginners as well as advanced practitioners. But how much experience do you really need to get the most out of a camp?
In this article we’ll answer this question and give you some tips to ensure that your first BJJ camp will be a great experience!
How new is too new?
First, you should know that every Brazilian Jiu Jitsu camp is different. Some camps, like BJJ Summer Week, have hundreds of attendees and others, like the BJJ Unique Summer Camp, are more intimate affairs with less than a hundred. But whether the camp be large or small, beginners are always welcome!
However, if your first gi and belt have just arrived at your door and you’ve never set foot in a BJJ gym then you may want to give yourself a few weeks of practice before committing to a camp. BJJ is an intense sport that some people struggle to enjoy. Many people begin only to quit within the first weeks or months.
If you have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars to attend a camp, it might be nice to have some idea of whether or not you enjoy practicing the sport!
Having said that, if you’ve attended a few classes and have a solid case of BJJ addiction, then by all means dive in! While some techniques may be challenging, you’ll still be able to gain more than enough to make attendance worth your while.
If you’ve only been practicing BJJ for a few weeks you might find more advanced moves complicated, but you aren’t alone in that! Many concepts in Jiu Jitsu are complicated at first, no matter what rank you are. Even colored belts struggle when they encounter novel techniques like berimbolos or bear-trap entries for the first time!
New techniques will always be hard at first, but that is part of the joy of the sport!
Getting the most out of your first camp
Whether you’ve been training for two weeks or two years, there are some important differences between training at a camp and training at your home gym. These tips will help you make the most out of your time at your first BJJ camp!
Pick a camp that fits you
BJJ camps offer a wide variety of experiences. Some camps offer vibrant nightlife and party scenes, while others are more closely aimed at people who want a week of training and conditioning.
By selecting a camp that aligns with your interests you’ll ensure that your expectations match reality.
We all have different reasons for practicing BJJ, but having fun is what keeps us coming back. If you’ve just gotten into Jiu Jitsu, you should approach camps as a vacation where you get to do a hobby you enjoy, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by people who share your interests.
Keep this in mind while training at camps; no one is grading your performance and no one will be upset with you if you miss a class you said that you would attend. Show up, have a good time, and enjoy your BJJ vacation!
One of the most important things to realize when you attend a camp is that you don’t have to attend every class!
The Mallorca BJJ and Yoga Fest camp offers five 90-minute classes and two open mats per day and the reality is that is far more Jiu Jitsu than the average human loop can handle! Listen to your body and don’t overtrain.
If you really want to attend a particular class at the end of a long day, consider skipping the open mat that precedes it so you arrive fresh and ready to learn.
Variety is the spice of life
Each coach brings their own unique teaching style and when you’re just starting out it is important to get a broad perspective. While some camps are stacked with all-star competitors, the reality is that as a beginner you’ll get benefits from any training!
Try to make it to a variety of different coaches’ classes. You may find that someone’s teaching style resonates with you more than others.
When possible, seek out coaches whose body type matches your own. If you’re of smaller build you may find that the techniques taught by athletic heavy-weights aren’t a great fit for your attributes. However, don’t be afraid to train with coaches with different builds – some of the best lessons I’ve ever had have come from coaches from radically different weight classes than me.
Keep in mind that classes taught by famous competitors tend to be more heavily attended, which can result in a crowded training environment and less opportunity for one-on-one time with the coach.
Too tired to train? Watch and take notes!
If your body is telling you that it needs rest, but you have a class on your schedule that you desperately want to make, consider attending from the sidelines. Bring a notebook or record the class so you can drill the moves at your leisure!
In fact, you should be taking notes on every class you attend. Camps throw so much information at you that it can be a real challenge to remember everything that was covered!
Ultimately, unless you have never set foot on the mats and have no idea if you enjoy the sport, BJJ camps really are for everyone. As a first- or second-week white belt you should expect to get something different out of a camp than a more seasoned player will – but nevertheless the experience will be enjoyable and rewarding.
Whether you’ve been training for days or years, remember to pace yourself, train with a variety of coaches, and watch classes when you’re too tired to participate.