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Students pose after a gi class at Pica Pau Jiu Jitsu in Aurora, IL.

Learn Jiu Jitsu

A bit more about the sport of jiu jitsu and how Pica Pau can help you get started.

What is Jiu Jitsu?

Jiu jitsu is a wrestling sport centered around getting the submission, or making your opponent "tap out". It's known for giving smaller people the ability to win over larger or stronger opponents through technique & leverage.


A typical match starts on the feet, with each opponent trying to get the match to the ground - usually through a takedown, throw, or simply sitting down to attack from a bottom position (known as "pulling guard"). Throughout the match, each opponent tries to progress to a dominant pin or position, from which a submission can be applied. There are many different submissions, but they fall mostly under two categories: chokes, such as triangles and guillotines, and joint locks, such as armbars and kimuras.

In most rule sets - and the way we train at Pica Pau - there is no striking involved.

Head Instructor Aaron Brooks of Pica Pau Jiu Jitsu competes in an IBJJF No-Gi match.
Owner Tam Dang of Pica Pau Jiu Jitsu competes in an IBJJF gi match in 2020.

Gi or No-Gi?

Gi jiu jitsu is done in the traditional kimono uniform, called a "gi." No-gi is done in tight-fit grappling clothing, usually a rashguard and spats. The goal is the same: submit your opponent! The difference is that in gi jiu jitsu, you can grip the uniform - by the sleeve, pants, or collars - offering different types of control & leverage. You cannot grip the clothing in no-gi.

Many grapplers practice both styles. At Pica Pau, we offer training in both! For your first few gi classes, you are welcome to use one of our clean loaner uniforms until you purchase your own. For no-gi, you must bring clean athletic clothing. Don't stress out over which class to start. They are equally fun and useful, and your training in one style will benefit the other.

What is class like?

A typical class consists of 45-50 minutes of instruction. The instructor demonstrates a technique, and students break into pairs to practice the move with instructor assistance. This is often followed by short, controlled rounds of situational sparring - where partners begin the round in the position of the technique being taught - so that students can practice the move in a live setting with resistance.

All-levels classes end with optional rounds of open sparring. We do not limit how long students spar; most students stay for 30-60 minutes of sparring.

Basics classes typically demonstrate a simpler, more foundational version of the techniques taught in the all-levels. This allows newer students to get more repetitions of the moves they will see in the all-levels classes. Basics classes do not include open sparring.

Head Instructor Aaron Brooks demonstrates a triangle submission during jiu jitsu class at Pica Pau.

Benefits of Training

Students have fun in a no-gi grappling class at Pica Pau in Aurora, IL.

Have Fun

For many people, jiu jitsu is one of the best parts of their day. People describe it as their "me" time - to hang out with friends, get in a great workout, and relieve everyday stress.

Eden Berg of Pica Pau competes in a gi jiu jitsu match in IBJJF in 2021.

Discover Your Strengths

Everyone develops a jiu jitsu game unique to their physical & mental strengths. Evolving your grappling over time - based on what you like, what comes naturally, and what works for you - is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of jiu jitsu. You never know what kind of grappler you'll become!

The Pica Pau Jiu Jitsu competition team poses after the Chicago Spring Open in 2021.

Challenge Yourself

Jiu Jitsu is described as "human chess" because it is both physically and mentally challenging. Learning a new skill  - especially one as dynamic & complex as jiu jitsu - can be intimidating, but that's what makes it so rewarding. At Pica Pau, we support our students every step of their journey - from their first day on the mats, to the day they get their black belt & beyond.

Why do you train?

We asked our students how jiu jitsu benefits their lives. Here's what they had to say:

I have a sedentary job. Jiu jitsu is a good way to keep testing myself and stay physically fit as I get older.

Troy Z.

Stress relief. While I’m on the mats, I’m focused on what I’m doing in the moment. Nothing else exists and when I leave, I come back to everything refreshed.

Mike W.

Jiu Jitsu is so much fun. I love learning new things and I feel like I have so much left to learn. It's very exciting.

Victor A.

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