Frequently Asked Questions

Jiu-Jitsu is the umbrella term to describe the art of submission grappling. It originated in Japan and later became popular in Brazil where they focused on more ground work, with it being called “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” or BJJ for short. 

The Gracie Family originated from Brazil and were the main family responsible for making Jiu-Jitsu so popular. With their focus on self-defense efficiency, it was further referred to as “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” and became world-known through the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in 1996, where their representative Royce Gracie won the event, and the first three of four events.

We at Theory use the umbrella term Jiu-Jitsu to embrace the open-source nature that is grappling in 2022, teaching the sport and self-defense aspects to our students.


Jiu-Jitsu embraces the same mentality of controlling our opponent’s through various pins, but there are two aspects that make it much different: submission holds and the position known as Guard.

Submission holds (typically a joint lock of some kind or a choke/stranglehold) demonstrate to our partner that if the match were to continue, that there could be serious damage to their body or the potential that they can pass out from a choke. Although the matches rarely ever manifest actual damage or students passing out, it is mimicking a self-defense situation where if the event were to continue and the opponent was damaged or passed out, it would be a major advantage for them to cause further harm if they so chose. In order to prevent harm in a match, a student will “tap out” either by tapping twice on their partner or vocalizing with the word “Tap” to let them know that they submit with the seriousness of their submission hold.

The Guard position is where our legs are over their hips while we lay on our back. This allows us to keep our opponent in front of us and the use the power of our legs to sweep our opponent or even in some cases to generate pressure for submission holds. This is something very unique to Jiu-Jitsu and distinguishes it from other grappling arts, such as wrestling and Judo. 

Jiu-Jitsu can also be practicing with just a rashguard on or a jacket called a Kimono that offers your opponent handles to control them or add additional submission hold opportunities.

There is an old quote in Jiu-Jitsu that says “There is no such thing as a dangerous submission, only a dangerous person.” 

  • Jiu-Jitsu’s health and safety is defined by its studio’s culture. There are some schools where live rolling is a “survival of the fittest”, where it looks more like a street fight than an actual sportive grappling match. Most students (without any solid technique given to them) end up relying on primal instincts and this lead to a lot of injuries.
  • Training is about skill development over victory. We are developing technical strategies and concepts for advancing your grappling skills, not to try and “beat” our partner. There is no ‘winning training’. Theory is not a competitive environment, but a collaborative one. 
  • Training intensity can is only raised once you have established a training relationship with your partner. A training relationship in this case meaning knowing your partner’s training goals, technical abilities, and injury history. Without that knowledge, it is a recipe for injuries to happen.
  • Your partners are your teammates and are there to ensure you have a great Jiu-Jitsu experience, all while being safe and having fun!

The speciality of Jiu-Jitsu is when a fighting situation ends up on the ground, typically when a bigger opponent takes the other one to the ground since they are unable to get the better of the exchange through strikes. Over 80% of fighting situations end up on the ground due to this, or typical off-balancing. 

Jiu-Jitsu allows us to control and submit an opponent even if they outweigh us or are more athletic, through proper body positioning and submission holds. We can choose to damage our opponent through submission holds (without damaging our hands/knuckles with striking our opponent), or to use it as a place of control to subdue our opponent until the authorities arrive if we are in a public place.

Most classes have three phases: Instruction, Drilling, Sparring.

Your instructor will typically cover a concept/technique and then provide the time for you to drill it with your partner, varying intensity as your comfort builds. From there, specifically in the Advanced Class, you will be able to use all your skillsets in live sparring. You can think of a class being like being taught concepts of chess, and then playing live chess matches with other students.

No problem! We have students who have never participated in martial arts, or may not feel they are at an ideal level of fitness, yet they are excelling!

  • Jiu-Jitsu is a great martial art and fitness activity for a variety of people, body types & shapes, and fitness levels.*
  • You don’t need to be at your ideal level of fitness to start, since it is mostly mental at first, and your body will adapt to the movements.
  • Most people will naturally improve their cardio, fitness, agility, strength, and flexibility over time as you train – it’s a powerful bonus that results from learning the core parts of our art.
  • You can always supplement your training with other fitness activities outside of the gym as well such as weight lifting, yoga, etc., but it is not required before you start.
  • If you have any medical related questions, please consult your doctor or physician for medical advice about participating a physical activity like Jiu-Jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu is for every age and fitness level! Our craft brings a lot of success based on your knowledge, and substituting physical speed/strength with mental speed and proper physics, such as framing, timing, and utilizing larger muscle groups. 

Your partners at Theory will also match to your skill and fitness level, since anything beyond that is not productive for either partner in their development, so you never have to worry about getting smashed or injured from that.

You can learn more about our Youth classes with our intro Youth Empowerment Course and our Youth Jiu-Jitsu Program

Everyone starts at White, after which there are four more:

Blue
Purple
Brown
Black

In between ranks there are White Stripes you can earn on the end of your belt as “progress markers” towards your next rank. These Stripes are goals you will accomplish towards your next level of mastery. 

There are also belts for children: grey, yellow, orange and green. Once the child has reached 16, they can become a Blue Belt.

The black belt has additional degree stripes, which are normally dependent on time. 

After several degrees of black belt, there is an honorary red and black belt, and finally a red belt. The highest level, 10th degree red belt.

There are unfortunately a lot of schools that their only guidelines are dedicating many years to the school, randomized techniques, mixed in with a cardio workout and a “Shark Tank”, which involves sparring with you until you are completely gassed out. At Theory, we take a more technical approach.

We offer our students specific curriculum of techniques and principles to show competency in order to get recognized for the rank, ranging from technical knowledge to live skills demonstrated in rolling. We want to see that you have pathways and technical knowledge, which will serve you much better in your Jiu-Jitsu career. This is also done out of respect for the student, since being recognized as a higher rank comes with it an expected level of skill. If the student is ill-prepared for this rank, they will be met with many failures especially at competition, and be confused since they were told they were at this rank.

Black Belt takes about 8-12 Years, typically 2 years going from ranks of White Belt, to Blue, Purple, Brown, and then Black. These promotions can take a shorter or longer time depending on the amount of training sessions, like most activities. 

Jiu-Jitsu is one the fastest growing sports in the world, with new innovations being created every year. Although competition can be an exciting experience to see how your Jiu-Jitsu game manifests in a high-intensity setting, it is never a requirement for being promoted or your involvement at the school.

There are some schools where there are separate competition teams and classes, but we here at Theory are inclusive to each of our students and their goals with no one being left out. If you are preparing for a competition, you can get some more spirited rolls with students who feel comfortable turning up the intensity, and with other people you can work your technical game, knowing what pathways you will be focusing on.