Xequemate may or may not be the place for you to train and learn self-defense and/or martial arts. When I started my training in 2003, my goal was to learn how to fight. The first environment I trained at pushed me very hard. There was an intense calisthenics workout before every class and there was no air conditioning. You could sweat off 5 pounds in a class. Bacteria was everywhere and ringworm was common place.
After several years of training, when I realized I was not going to be a UFC fighter, my mentality changed, and the atmosphere where I was training was no longer appealing to me. I wanted to learn jiu-jitsu every day, in an atmosphere that catered to technique vs power, in a clean environment and taught in a way that I enjoyed it. After visiting many schools, I realized that jiu-jitsu can be taught many, many different ways.
Some schools focus on endurance and strength with grueling calisthenics. Some instructors push you like a drill instructor. Some instructors don’t roll with their students. Some schools do or don’t enforce stretching. Some schools mandate specific uniforms. Most importantly to me, not all schools have an emphasis on Master Helio Gracie’s self-defense system.
The key to being great in jiu-jitsu, more than anything else, is to continue training. In order to continue training, you must enjoy training. You can train every day for hours if you enjoy the people, atmosphere and program. That coupled with proper technique, and you continuously take strides in your jiu-jitsu career and lifestyle.
So what is Xequemate’s personality? We believe that jiu-jitsu should be enjoyed from the start of class to the end of class. We do not have an intense calisthenics workout. Instead, we save that energy for sparring after class. We teach a technique focused class with a specific curriculum with emphasis on Master Helio Gracie’s teachings as taught by his son, UFC legend Royce Gracie. We believe in emphasis on the self-defense aspects of jiu-jitsu.
A typical Xequemate white belt nearing his blue belt has a strong arsenal of throws and takedowns, a good understanding of Master Helio’s self-defense techniques, and proficiency with several options for sweeps, reversals and/or submissions from any position. We teach a low impact technique-centric class and allow enough time at the end of class for the toughest students to completely exhaust themselves.
A student shouldn’t be “pushed”, but rather “gently pulled”. The Gracie’s refer to this as “pull teaching” opposed to “push teaching”, which basically translates to positive motivation vs negative motivation. But it goes beyond that. A class should be flexible enough to allow for the gentlest student to achieve their goals and the strongest student to achieve theirs.
Many students spend years practicing jiu-jitsu and still don’t know the etiquettes of sparring. Sparring is a very valuable part of class and everyone is encouraged to take part in it, but it’s not mandatory. Eventually it becomes the part of training you most look forward to, but it doesn’t always start that way.
What is rarely taught is that there are many different levels of sparring. There is playful sparring, there is serious sparring and there are wars. You can become great in jiu-jitsu employing one, several or all of these variations. Not all people want to war with another person, but some people do. This agreement should initially be a spoken agreement until you know your training partners well, and the agreement eventually becomes unspoken, because you know what to expect from one another.
I have some students who I love to war with. They are warriors and they want the opportunity to beat their instructor. I give all of my students that opportunity on a daily basis. Some students would rather roll in a learning manner, and everyone should be capable and happy to train this way with their sparring partners. Some students will only want to roll lightly, or playfully, and that should be equally enjoyable.
When taught correctly, and practiced correctly, jiu-jitsu can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. Xequemate BJJ has the ability to push you as hard as you want to be pushed, or the ability to go as easy and soft as you want. No part of instruction is mandatory and there is no-one yelling at you to get one last pushup in class. There are no pushups in class. Pushups serve no purpose in jiu-jitsu. Technique wins over muscle. Time spent doing calisthenics is time lost practicing technique. We train constantly to sharpen the technique sword.
Lastly, we believe in teaching principles in addition to jiu-jitsu. Jiu-jitsu is a very effective martial art. When you are proficient with it, it’s almost as though you have a super power. With this ability comes responsibility and we believe in teaching Bushido code. Bushido is a Japanese word for “the way of the samurai life”, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code stressing frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death.