I was recently asked by someone about what it takes for one of my students to join the Advanced Classes. I explained to him my thoughts on why having a beginner program is important. When I finished he told me that I should put it into a blog post. He suggested a clear thought process for students to read would help people.
1. Safety. When someone joins my gym (unless you are a upper belt from a respected gym, you go into the beginner program. I even ask wrestlers and Judo people to join the class. Why? There are several reason. The first being safety. A new student comes into the gym and doesn't have a clear understanding of the rules and dangers of training. There is a high probability that you could hurt yourself, if you go straight from 0 to 100. You could also hurt your training partner. The most dangerous people to grapple with at the gym are the white belts. Why? Because they are giving their all and trying their hardest without knowing proper form, and understanding how to control their bodies. By going to beginner class our instructor's are going to make sure you are safe. For yourself and others before you graduate to advanced class.
2. Learn what Jiu-Jitsu is before we having people live sparring. Before you start having people try to choke or armbar you ect... We want to teach you the basics. It can feel overwhelming to be thrust into a full speed class, if you have no idea what is going on. The beginners class sets you up with a knowledge of Jiu Jitsu basics. What is a Mount, Back Mount, Guard, Side Control ect... I want people to show a basic understanding of Jiu-Jitsu before they go to Advanced class. In advanced class I don't want to have to explain what an armbar is to the new guy. It slows down the class and by having a room full of more advanced students. In this way I can teach more efficiently in my class.
3. Advanced Class is for the most advanced students in attendance. This is what makes my advanced class so challenging. This is why I have guys that have been training in that class for 18 years, they are still being challenged. Beginner Class is taught to the level of the least experienced student. In the beginner class we are trying to teach basic Jiu-Jitsu. The instructors are told to leave nobody behind. In advanced class sometimes not everyone is going to understand the technique. This is ok. Frustration is a part of training. By the time you are in advanced class you should have the understanding that Jiu-Jitsu is hard. You have made the commitment to me and to the gym that you are here until you receive your Black Belt and beyond.
Conclusion: Starting your journey from White Belt to Black Belt starts at my gym in Beginner Class. We start you there for a wide variety of reasons but the main thing is safety. We don't want you to get hurt and we don't want you to accidentally hurt someone else. The instructors in my beginner class do a excellent job of preparing students for there first advanced class. I am proud of the process that we put new students thru. I know some people are very excited to move from beginner class to advanced class. But understand that we are just wanting you to have a positive experience training. I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion about the differences in my classes.
Update: We still have a beginner and Advanced class for Jiu-Jitsu. I don't see that ever changing. Having a safe envirment for people to train in will always be important!