Step 1: Mindfulness and Flow
The first step of the program is to make participants feel comfortable in a new and potentially stressful environment. The initial sessions focus on breathing and meditation, utilizing Ginastica Natural to build a foundation of natural movements that will calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and regulate heart rate. We work on getting the mind calm and aware, and slowing the body down while learning basic flows that will set a base for future jiu jitsu practice.
Step 2: Partner Warm-Ups
Once the participants have successfully tapped into their awareness and have a baseline sense of control over their conscious minds, the program moves to partner warm-ups. This important step allows participants to learn how to be comfortable with physical contact, especially very close contact, in a safe environment. We slowly and methodically increase the level of physical contact between participants while focusing on maintaining a comfortable level of calm. Leaders stop participants often during these activities to judge anxiety and stress levels, with participants learning how to spot their own signs and symptoms of panic, anxiety, stress, helplessness, etc, as well as how to manage and control them.
Step 3: Partner Drills
Once participants have reached a level of comfort with the physicality of warmups and have a firm grasp of how to reduce reactivity to physical touches, the program moves forward to partner drills. Drills are among the most useful tasks you can do to improve your jiu jitsu, and may be even the single best way to see the quickest results from your training time. The point of drills is to familiarize the nervous system with certain patterns. What’s known as “muscle memory” is actually nervous system adaptation to a specific demand. Mastering drilling patterns mean that the body gets used to executing them much quicker compared to unfamiliar ones. Drills make the moves you apply more efficient, sparing your energy during rolling.
When drilling a student should focus on executing every aspect of the technique as perfectly as possible. Drills should be performed slowly and precisely, always taking a move to the very end of the technique. The focus should be on details and correct execution. In the case of partner drills, appropriate resistance should be applied during drills. However, that doesn’t mean preventing the partner from executing the technique. Drilling is not position sparring.
The program starts with static partner drills in which one of the partners remains in a single position while the other drills movements, taking turns along the way. These are drills that can usually be easily replicated with immobile objects at home. Apart from learning new techniques, beginners become as familiar as possible with the basic movement patterns of Jiu-Jitsu.
The program then progresses to technical sequence drills in which one partner's movement is responded to by an equal move of their partner's that sets them up to repeat the sequence. Technical drilling is the continuous repetitive practice of mostly singular moves, for time or reps. The partner’s resistance during technical drilling varies according to the students’ level and drilling goals. Learning drills tend to be slower but more detail oriented. Everything from the top and bottom movement to submit entries can be included in technical drills.
This portion of the program is finalized with flow drills which are more complex drill structures. Instead of repeating one move over and over, students can focus on drilling scenarios. This way, both students actively interchange between attacking and defending from a multitude of positions.
Step 4: Open Rolling
To finalize the Defy & Conquer program participants will start rolling.
“Rolling,” as we call it, is a form of “sparring” and is a way for students to test their skills and abilities against their teammates. Like sparring in other martial arts, rolling helps identify opportunities for improvement, work on strengths and advantages, and continually practice and improve the techniques that require attention.
Students do this by engaging in rounds of grappling with teammates, similar to what you would expect in a competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu environment. However, don’t be mistaken; the intensity is dampened when rolling so that everyone can all stay on the mats for longer.
You’ll see that the two teammates are engaging with each other and are practicing their techniques, movements, and submissions. When one attacks, the other defends. If caught in a submission, such as a choke hold or a joint lock, the student can ‘submit’ by tapping on any part of his partner’s body. The teammate will then let go of the submission, and the two can quickly restart the process. If she is unable to tap the body of her partner, or on the mat, she can yell “tap” which also indicates a submission.
Students don’t need to prioritize submission attempts when rolling, and they can instead focus on controlling a particular position, or practice defense from specific situations or submissions. It is live training that enables fluid practice and learning.
Rolling is fundamental to piecing together the concepts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and it helps you stay focused in class as you now understand the relevance of every position and submission. It is also the most exciting and rewarding activity in your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu learning, so it deserves proper attention.
Step 5: After Program Completion
It is the goal of Defy & Conquer to properly arm our female participants with a newfound sense of confidence in their ability, and enough knowledge to step onto the mats at any gym with the desire to keep learning. Through donations, fundraising efforts, and local gym partnerships, Defy & Conquer will cover the costs for continuing education at one of Charleston's amazing BJJ gyms once a participant has completed the program. We also require all participants to give back through volunteering with the program in one of several capacities, including helping future participants through the program.