The Wheat from the Chaff: Examining Wrestling’s Dominance in MMA


For decades, wrestling has rightly been recognized as one of the most favourable skill sets a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter can possess. Last month, Khabib Nurmagomedov left the MMA world reeling by announcing his retirement on the back of a win over Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov's incredibly dominant victory capped off his career with an astonishing 29-0 record, allowing him to step away with both his lightweight title and the top slot in the world's best P4P fighter ranking secure. Khabib largely owes his success to his relentless wrestling-based style of attack, and is widely regarded as one of (if not *the*) best MMA wrestlers of all time. But what do we mean when we talk about wrestling in the context of MMA? How does wrestling function differently in the cage than in pure wrestling competition?



Rampage Jackson used his wrestling abilities to dominate opponents


Depending on where you are and who you ask, "wrestling" can refer to many things. Generally, wrestling refers to various forms of unarmed sport combat whereby competitors engage in up-close grappling exchanges with the overall goal of positional dominance. These contests can include establishing upright clinch control (Greco-Roman wrestling), high-amplitude takedowns exchanges (Freestyle wrestling), or cementing top position while your opponent attempts to get back up (American Folkstyle). It's worthwhile to draw a distinction between wrestling (as is described above) and submission grappling/jiu-jitsu (which puts a greater emphasis on attacking from the bottom and where conceding position is common). The latter deserves another discussion altogether.




When we talk about the success of wrestling in MMA competition, there are two distinct concepts we are referring to. First, there is the value of wrestling as a "base" discipline -- a foundational martial art that a competitor has practiced long before transitioning into MMA. Countless UFC and MMA world champions over the years have credited their success to their wrestling backgrounds, including all-time greats such as Daniel Cormier, Frankie Edgar, and Henry Cejudo. 


Wrestling gym Vancouver
2 Division UFC World Champion and Olympian wrestler Daniel Cormier slams an opponent


The other (arguably more important) way to understand wrestling’s dominance is as a system of techniques employed to achieve a superior position or otherwise dictate the realm in which a fight takes place. These techniques must be added to the toolkits of all MMA fighters looking to succeed at a high level, regardless of their foundational discipline. As recently as 2019, celebrated kicker and KO artist Donald Cerrone mixed in his wrestling-based attack to outwork & defeat Alexander Hernandez, a dangerous up-and-comer. Jose Aldo and BJ Penn -- two fighters without any formal wrestling background to speak of -- made careers out of their incredible wrestling defense, employing techniques to stave off the takedowns of opponents who, on paper, were the superior wrestlers.

Let's examine how & why wrestling in MMA functions so effectively.

Wrestling as a base for MMA

As we touched on above, wrestlers make up a staggering percentage of former and current MMA world-champions. Much of this success can be attributed to the natural tendency of high school & college wrestling programs to produce quality, competitive athletes. From an extremely early age (as young as 4 or 5 years old in the USA), members of these programs take part in regular athletic competition. Tournaments are frequently held throughout the year at the local, state, and national levels. Athletes must practice nearly every day of the week, and become comfortable with a strict diet and frequent weight-cutting procedures.

Like most sports, highly-athletic, explosive athletes tend to rise above their peers in wrestling. However, the relentless, grinding pattern of practice-compete-practice also requires a vast degree of mental toughness in those who stick it out. Weak-willed competitors are weeded out, be it through the demands of the schedule or by being broken at the hands of another athlete in competition. The end result of this system is an ongoing crop of hardened competitors, athletic individuals fueled by a deeply ingrained work ethic. 



Wrestling practice is known for it's grueling intensity


Wrestlers in MMA routinely display a level of strength, cardio, and mental toughness a cut above other martial artists. Drawing on their decades of competition experience, they can steadily break down their opponents over the course of the fight. This kind of mental toughness -- both in training and in competition -- can’t be earned overnight. A successful wrestler can go shockingly far in MMA with little more than a double-leg takedown and a solid overhand punch.

This history of MMA is full of wrestlers who exhibit these intangible qualities. NAIA All-American wrestler Benson Henderson earned the nickname “Bendo” for his apparent flexibility and submission defense, but refusal to quit under any circumstance is textbook for a wrestler. Greco-Roman Olympian Dan Henderson, one of MMA’s all-time greats, is perhaps known more for his unbelievably powerful striking than his use of wrestling in the cage. And Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo, arguably the greatest wrestler to ever compete in MMA, channeled his competitive spirit to capture UFC titles in two divisions.


wrestling Vancouver gym
2 division UFC World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo


The familiarity wrestlers have with some of MMA’s most challenging positions & techniques gives them another leg up on their opposition. On the mat, a wrestler with relatively little jiu-jitsu experience can quickly learn how to effectively control & avoid the submission attempts of a more experienced grappler. A strong example of this came in 2019, when hulking wrestler & BJJ blue belt Nick Rodriguez bested some of the world’s top black belts to take 2nd place at ADCC.


Vancouver wrestling class
Nicky Rod reverses an opponent at ADCC


wrestling in Vancouver
Despite being a relatively experienced grappler, Nicky Rod took second place at ADCC, defeating ADCC and IBJJF black belt world champions by utilizing his wrestling prowess


Wrestlers are also far more comfortable than their peers at stringing together different wrestling techniques. Often called “chain wrestling”, this relentless form of attack sees wrestlers stay several steps ahead of their opponent in order to secure a takedown. Fighters who lack a wrestling base are more likely to simply bail and try to reset after a stymied takedown attempt, making their shots predictable and easy to defend. Daniel Cormier mixed up his high-crotch and single-leg attacks beautifully throughout his career, allowing him to score high-amplitude throws against other decorated wrestlers like Dan Henderson and Josh Barnett. 

Defense is another area when lifelong wrestlers can shine. Self-styled strikers like Chuck Liddell and Justin Gaethje, known for their tremendous knockout power and exciting fighting style, have their wrestling experience to thank for their continued success on the feet. Both men practice their wrestling "in reverse” as a way of dictating that the fight remains standing. Through high-level defense and the ability to quickly get up from bottom position, they can settle into a comfortable and effective rhythm on the feet.


wrestling Vancouver
Chuck Liddell used used his wrestling to avoid getting taken down, and keep the fight on the feet


Wrestling as a system of techniques for MMA

"If you're a wrestler and you're coming over to MMA, or vice versa, you need to understand that most of everything needs to be thrown out" -- Chael Sonnen to mmafighting.com. March 9, 2003

At the purest level, wrestling empowers a fighter to determine where the fight will take place. Without a solid grasp of wrestling defense or offense, a fighter will be completely at the mercy of his opponent's whim to fight on the feet, the ground, or against the case. One of clearest examples of this came when Randy Couture & world champion boxer James Toney met at UFC 118. An accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler, Couture took Toney down effortlessly, negating the latter's significant striking advantage and submitting him with ease.


Decorated wrestler Randy Couture easily takes down professional boxer James Toney


But one doesn't have to be Randy Couture to understand and implement a wrestling attack in MMA. Georges St-Pierre, despite his background in Kyokushin Karate, famously developed himself into one of the best MMA wrestlers of all time. In a perfect example of what makes MMA so great, Georges turned his quick, in-and-out Kyokushin movement into a powerful double leg takedown. His mastery of this technique proved so successful that he was able to dominate lifelong wrestlers like Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes.


Vancouver wrestling classes
Georges St-Pierre lands an explosive double leg takedown


Chael Sonnen broke down GSP's success as an MMA wrestler with stunning clarity in his 2003 MMAFighting.com interview with Luke Thomas:

"Georges St. Pierre has one wrestling technique, Georges St. Pierre could never push and pull and pummel and set a guy up. He has one technique, which is the double leg. Now off of that double leg he's got about three different setups he uses to get to that position, and he's got about six different finishes depending on what his opponent does when he gets there. I would call him the best wrestler in MMA, but I would also go out and go 'Georges knows extremely little about wrestling'. If you want to go into a wrestling match, Georges is not the guy you want to coach and train you."

Wrestling in Vancouver
UFC World Champion Georges St-Pierre is well known for controlling his opponents with his wrestling skills


What GSP illustrates is that in MMA, a fighter's ability (or inability) to execute a specific technique is ultimately more valuable than their base. If your opponent can keep you from being able to execute your techniques, you're in a heap of trouble. As Chael describes, when it comes to effective defense "you don't have to learn wrestling to stop wrestling." BJ and Jose Aldo, two fighters with no wrestling background to speak of, are remembered as much for their impeccable takedown defense as their devastating finishes. These champions both knew the importance of adding wrestling to their repertoire of techniques, even if it was strictly in a  defensive capacity.

For those of us who didn't grow up wrestling, this is heartening news. Serious MMA gyms in Vancouver and around the world know the importance of the art and have incorporated it into their lessons.

Because of the efficacy of defensive wrestling in MMA, many fantastic wrestlers have had a hard time transitioning their skills to the sport. Yoel Romero, despite his incredible Olympic pedigree, has displayed pretty minimal top control in the octagon. The most successful wrestlers to transition are those who marry their skillset with the unique aspects of MMA -- striking to set up shots, ground and pound, submissions, and utilizing the cage.


wrestling BC
Khabib used his wrestling to become one of the most dominant champions in MMA history


This is where Khabib shines. Many attribute his success in MMA to his Sambo background -- a fighting style which blends elements of wrestling, striking, and jiu-jitsu -- but so much of what made Khabib's great is particular to MMA. For years, the cage has been the friend of the fighter on bottom, an extra post to help the fight back to their feet. Khabib turned this saving grace into a nightmarish trap, dragging his foes down and battering them with punches as they worked their way back up -- only to be taken down again. Khabib understood how to apply wrestling techniques to MMA in a way that people will be analyzing for years to come.


Wrestling is absolutely critical for success in MMA. Although a background in wrestling offers a slew of benefits, the basics can be picked up and applied by anyone with the drive and determination to learn. Highschool, colleges, and other Vancouver gyms are great places for people of all ages to discover the joy of wrestling. 

DCS enjoys a rich reputation as the top Vancouver kickboxing school, but our world-class MMA and grappling programs are a fantastic way to build up your wrestling basics as well. Gym Owner Ryan Diaz is a 2x MMA World Champion with a lifetime of experience in MMA wrestling techniques. Ryan teaches a proven, tried & true system of rules for wrestling in MMA. Our youth program, spearheaded by wrestling fanatic and accomplished youth coach Jonathan Hutchinson, lets children build their wrestling fundamentals in a safe, positive environment. Best of all, our instructors are all available for private lessons -- there’s no quicker way to sharpen your wrestling skills than with the best personal training in Vancouver.

Different Types Of Punching Power

Tyson power punching boxing Vancouver

How Do I Develop Punching  Power? How Do I Snap My Punches Better?

So many times, coaches are asked these questions among the first few concerns from aspiring boxers.

What is lost on many people is it is not just the Mike Tyson’s of the world that are born with natural punching power. Though many are not born with the natural gift of many typical power punching fighters, no matter your body type or muscle mass, it is finding what works for you when turning weight and staying on balance that finds your power.

There are many different body types and many big punchers through boxing history without a muscle on their frame.

Below we will look at different types of styles, their punches and how they found their power due to comfort in their own frame, their style and confidence in their ability


Boxing classes in Vancouver
Knockout artist Rocky Marciano lands a solid right hand to his opponents jaw


Traditional Power Puncher

Examples: Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Adonis Stevenson, Shane Mosley.

In most cases, built like a tank. There's little to explain with natural born power punchers. No matter their body type, their frame is normally covered in muscle.

Tyson being the perfect example of a fighter that can hit hard in spite of himself.



Despite being 54 years old, Mike Tyson still has incredible punching power


Like Tyson, many traditional power punchers tend to share similarities with ‘The In-Fighter' in using a pressure first style. Where the two style of boxers differ is the options a power puncher caries.

While In-Fighters tend to use pressure to be most-effective in their punches, a power puncher will often have the ability to throw deadly punches from any position. Pressure is often used by these competitors as the fastest means of execution.

Often times these athletes can make up for lapses in technique with the ability to end the fight with a single punch.


Vancouver boxing gym punching power
Ferocious power puncher George Forman sends Ken Norton to the canvas


No matter a height advantage or disparity, staying at the end of a power punches shots spells disaster for opponents.



George Foreman was one of the most prodigious power punchers of all time



Examples: Lennox Lewis, Thomas Hearn, Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales

Though not often in possession of the natural punching ability of a power puncher, a quality Boxer-Puncher many times will score equally impressive highlight real knockouts.

Like the name explains, the Boxer-Puncher uses a cross-style between an in-fighter and outside boxer. It is most successfully executed with the effective aggression and ring control of an in-fighter and the timing, footwork and angles of an outside boxer.

Typically, an athlete with a strong understanding of the sports fundamentals, a boxer-puncher often has the greatest ability to adapt in a fight among these styles.

Based in fundamentals, a boxer-puncher's body can type vary more than any of these categories as well.

Oscar De La Hoya, a prime modern-era example of a terrific boxer-puncher, used pressure behind his jab, picking his shots from new angles with his famous left-hook.

While Thomas Hearns, a 6-foot-1, 147-pound fighter who carried booming punching power, used the same fundamentals as other great boxer-punchers, but with a build more typical of an outside boxer. Using a style that was perfect for him, Hearns would often have stronger punches then his physically stronger opponents.


Power punch Boxing classes Vancouver
Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns delivers a fierce knockout blow


Instead an outside boxer uses their movement and control the pace of the fight, often leading to knockouts based on fatigue of their adversary. Due to this style many fights with end in decision for these boxers. Knockouts also often occur when an outside boxer can find their punch distance on their foe, timing shots with superior speed to their opponents.

It often spells devastating results when opponents are hit with a shot they did not see, from an angle they did not expect. The outside boxer tends to give opponents a false sense of security to help themselves find the openings to land these blows.

Most (but not all) outside boxers are taller fighters that must keep opponents on the end of their punch to be successful in finding their power. Though most outside boxers have a reach advantages, shorter fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr and Pernell Whitaker prove a great understanding of punch distance will give them the ability to use this style.

The In-Fighter

Examples: Julio Cesar Chavez, Joe Fraizer, Ricky Hatton, Antonio Margarito

Often mistaken as a brawler, the In-fighter use a specific set of skills often fighting in what looks like a phone booth size space.

An in-fighter applies constant pressure on opponents to put them either on the ropes or into a distance where their punches are most effective. To be successful in this style, good conditioning and stamina is key.

Finding their distance is a must for these fighters' success. Often times finding distance will lead to a high punch output.

Power punches from the in-fighter will be found in close quarters, most famously from Julio Cesar Chavez and Ricky Hatton with short hooks to the liver and uppercuts to the sternum. More head-hunting focused boxers like Joe Frazier, while a big body puncher found great success with his close-quarters hooks and overhands to the head.


boxing gym in Vancouver
The legendary Julio Cesar Chavez lands a devastating hook to his opponents jaw


The typical in-fighter is short is stature and applies pressure and resorts to in-fighting to make up for their lack of reach. This is not always the case, as many athletes find themselves most comfortable on the inside despite having height and reach on opponents.

Such is the case for Antonio Margarito. A boxer taller than the majority of his opponents throughout his career, Margarito applied constant pressure, most effective when he gave his reach away, opting to fight on the inside.


What all these very different fighters have in common is one thing, they are all comfortable in their own skin. That did not happen overnight. Just like anyone stepping into class, sparring or into their first fight, it took time, repetition and hours of practice to find that comfort.

Just because Thomas Hearns was not built like a traditional power puncher, he adjusted to his style and was one of the biggest punchers in his division, as a 6-foot-1, 147-pound string bean. What worked for others, sometimes does not work for everyone.

Next time you hit the bag, hit the pads or lace the gloves for sparring. Look at what has worked for you, how you’re built and slowly, inch-by-inch, your identity as a fighter will grow.

Written by Lev Jackson


IBO Boxing World Champion Manny Sobral


When walking into Manny Sobral’s boxing classes at Diaz Combat Sports (DCS), students gain a deep understanding of boxing fundamentals. What you don’t learn while conquering the basics, is that coach Sobral has an even deeper resume during both his amateur career as an Olympian boxer for Canada, and a prolific professional career, amassing a 27-2, with 15 KO’s record, an IBO Welterweight World Title, and Canadian championship to boot.

Known as Manny “The Teacher” Sobral, he was a high-school teacher by day, world class fighter by night.



Highlight of Manny "the Teacher" Sobral


Manny began boxing at the at of 13, and just a year later was taken under the wing of legendary coach George Angelomatis. Though he trains fighters in a state-of-the-art facility today, his beginnings were just block’s away at the Astoria Boxing Club.“George was a strong believer that you get what you put it, and thus, so am I,” Manny said of his work ethic. “You get out of training what you put in, so a lot of it is up to you.”

As a teen, everyday he would be training in the basement of the Astoria hotel on Hastings and Heatley, a gym that trained over 10 amateur national champions, Sobral included. It was under the florescent lights and peeling paint of the basement gym where he built an amateur resume that saw Sobral represent his country at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and win five international gold medals for team Canada in tournaments in Italy, Venezuela, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia (then Yugoslavia in 1987).

Before going pro in 1992, Sobral had over 180 amateur fights to his credit, only 11 defeats.


Boxing classes Vancouver
Manny Sobral boxing in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.


In a career year in 1988, he was voted boxer of the tournament in the National Championships, beating out boxing legend, teammate and eventual Olympic gold medalist Lennox Lewis.


Boxing Classes Vancouver
The 1988 Canadian Olympic Boxing Team


Before representing Canada at the Olympics, Manny honed the maple leaf trunks scoring a win in Bulgaria against then worlds best amateur boxer Fransic Vastag. A man that walked into the ring with an astonishing 385 wins against just 17 losses. While his nickname “The Teacher” holds true, like many good teachers, continuing to learn was always a priority.

As an active professional fighter, Manny furthered his learning as a student at SAN Diego University completing his Master of Education in 2000. All the while continuing the trend of training after school.


boxing gym vancouver
Manny with boxing Legend Muhammad Ali


It was that year he began with the Vancouver School Board (VSB), starting in at Aries Program working with indigenous youth. Fast forward to today, before coaching his athletes at DCS, Sobral works for the Summit Program, outreach education aiding at risk youth. After four decades in the sport, it is imparting knowledge to eager students that keeps him in boxing.

“I love the students at DCS because they’re like sponges,” he explained “They want to learn more and more about the intricacies of the sweet science.”


boxing gym in Vancouver
Manny Sobral with boxing Icon Evander Holyfield

Moving to the professional ranks in ‘92, Sobral spent the next four years doing one thing, winning. Fighting across western Canada and Washington state, he built a perfect 20-0 record, winning the Canadian super welterweight title on the way with a third-round knockout of Del Ritchie in 1995 in Edmonton.This moved the former amateur standout to his biggest match since turning pro, a world championship fight.

On December 12, 1996, undefeated Manny Sobral faced Aaron McLaurine for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) super welterweight title.The match took place at the PNE Pacific Coliseum on Hastings street, bus stops away from the Astoria Hotel, where his boxing story began.

It was on that night, Sobral achieved what so few do, win a world championship. After twelve hard fought rounds, the fight was won by unanimous decision, putting the championship belt around his waist.


boxing gym vancouver
Manny Sobral doing pad work at boxing class


The accomplishment was made sweeter given the location, East Vancouver, and the crowd, filled with friends, colleagues, family and fans who had followed him and seen him fight since he first laced the gloves at 13. Still going by his coach Angelomatis’ “get what you put in” mentality, there was no resting on his laurels for Sobral, who took little time to return to both training and his studies.

Just three months later, Sobral came back with a boom! In the first defense of his IBO championship he knocked out Chris Weston in the second round, dropping his opponent down three times before he could not answer the count of ten.


Boxing classes in Vancouver
Manny with boxing Legend Sugar Ray Leonard


Manny’s career would go on with great success for another four years, including splitting a thrilling series of fights with thunderous puncher Tony “Bad Boy” Badea. Following a two-year retirement, he returned for one fight with soon-to-be unified, multi-time world champion Mikkel Kessler.

Taking no time to take shake the ring-rust off, Sobral moved up two weight-classes and travelled to Denmark to face Kessler, 24-0, 17KO’s at the time. Though he came up short, he had no issue having a competitive fight, two weight classes too heavy against a future hall of famer after two years away from the sport. This defines his mentality “you get what you put in.”

Kessler would go on to unify the WBC and WBA super middleweight world titles just years later, while Sobral scored many victories outside the ring following a legendary career. Not competing as an athlete, he was not far from the ring, being an integral part of building the professional boxing scene in the lower mainland. Since retirement he was a successful promoter, putting on over 12 professional boxing shows at the River Rock and Hard Rock Casino (then named Boulevard Casino) with West Coast Promotions.

His success as a promoter was surpassed by his coaching career, which was a true environment for “The Teacher” to impart knowledge, training many successful amateur and professional fighters. For anyone who walks into DCS looking to box, Manny will be ready every Monday to impart his knowledge to his always energetic, enthusiastic students.

Written by Lev Jackson

Will Elliott Joins Diaz Combat Sports As General Manager

For weeks, we at Diaz Combat Sports have had to keep our lips sealed about this exciting news. We are thrilled to finally announce that, effective immediately, Will Elliott will be taking over as General Manager at DCS. A longtime figure behind-the-scenes in the world of Asian MMA, Will leaves a profound mark wherever he brings his considerable talents. 


Will’s impact on the world of Asian MMA is difficult to overstate. A frequent guest at Tiger Muay Thai Phuket from 2006 (back when it consisted of just a single ring) onwards, Will took on a General Manager role there in 2009, then was promoted to Managing Director in 2012. By 2013, the gym -- and surrounding area -- was experiencing explosive growth as a direct result of his foresight and initiatives. First, he set to work on improving Tiger’s image, establishing it as a reputable MMA gym. To this end, he assembled a world-class team of MMA instructors. Among them were veteran UFC fighters Roger Huerta & Bryan Ebersole, as well as Fernando Maccachero, a 4th-degree BJJ black belt under the great Murilo Bustamante. 


MMA legend Georges St-Pierre visits the Tiger Camp


Will and Brazilian Top Team founder, UFC Champion, and Pride Veteran Murilo Bustamante


Elliott established the Tiger Muay Thai Fighter Tryouts, which would become a viral martial arts sensation almost overnight. The grueling tryout process was designed to produce the best possible team of MMA and Muay Thai athletes Tiger had ever housed, while providing valuable training partners to those visiting for fight camps. These tryouts persist to this day, attracting dozens of hopeful fighters and thousands of online viewers. Notable alumni of this program include current UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, top-ten ranked UFC Flyweight Kai Kara-France, and Lethwei megastar Dave Leduc.


The winners of season #1 of Tiger Muay Thai fighter tryouts.


At his direction, Tiger implemented a multi-language initiative to produce content in Mandarin Chinese and Russian, the two most common foreign-language groups in the area. Further, Will spearheaded grassroots fighter development programs with China, Malaysia, and Cambodia. In order to promote the sport of MMA in those countries, Tiger Muay Thai sponsored promising athletes to come develop their overall game with the striking, wrestling, and grappling specialists at Tiger while providing them with free training and accommodation. 


Forming a partnership with Kunlun, Chinas largest MMA organization.


Today, Tiger Muay Thai has evolved into a sprawling campus with multiple rings/cages, fitness areas, a hotel/dormitory, and a restaurant/juice bar at their massive training compound. Soi Taied, the once-quiet 2km stretch of rubber trees in Chalong where TMT resides, is now a bustling community affectionately called “Fight Street”.  Various MMA, crossfit, muay thai, and overall fitness gyms dominate the strip, alongside a slew of ancillary businesses like hotels, restaurants, and motorcycle rental shops. Through Will and the dynamic team at TMT's hard work and efforts, Tiger Muay Thai became a household name in martial arts, and the no.1 martial arts training destination gym on the planet. 


The TMT team hosts Malaysian Invasion, a reality TV show and fighter development program.


Following his time at Tiger, He was hand-selected for the management team at Evolve MMA in Singapore, one of the if not the largest and most successful gyms in the entire world. Will spent 4 years at Evolve, facilitating visits and seminars from some of the martial arts world's most distinguished figures. 


As we at DCS relocate to our new 11,000 square-foot facility, we wish to convey our deep gratitude and appreciation for Will. With him at the reigns, DCS is poised to become one of top gyms in the world and usher in a new period of MMA excellence for all of Western Canada. Welcome Will -- we can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

What To Expect From Your First Kickboxing Class

Kickboxing class Vancouver

The first moment you walk into one of Vancouver’s kickboxing gyms can be, admittedly, somewhat intimidating. Don’t fret -- this feeling is normal, and shouldn’t last long in a quality gym. There are plenty of common anxieties experienced by first-timers, who may wonder:

  • Do I need to already be fit to join this class? 
  • I’ve got no martial arts experience, what if I can’t keep up? 
  • Will the instructors be patient, and the other students be friendly?
  • Is gym an inclusive space?
  • What if my workout is too easy or too difficult?

At DCS, these apprehensions won’t last long.  We go to great lengths to provide, without a doubt, the absolute best kickboxing in Vancouver. Our highly capable, world-class team of instructors are happy to specifically tailor your first experience to suit your needs. Whether you are looking to improve your physical health, learn a new skill, or launch a career in combat sports, you can expect your first DCS Vancouver kickboxing class to get you primed for success.

Structure Of Your Trial Kickboxing Class At DCS

When you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is the welcoming, positive vibe DCS has worked so hard to cultivate. The Vancouver kickboxing scene is home to many gyms, but we believe the positive atmosphere at DCS sets us apart. We firmly believe that martial arts are for everyone, regardless of race, age, sexuality, or gender identity. Further, we stress that all our members -- regardless of experience -- must leave their egos at the door. On any given day, you can expect to find DCS full of patient, passionate students & instructors.

After our front desk staff greet you and sign you in for your class, you’ll be given a short tour of the gym facility. We’ll introduce you to your instructor for the day, who will chat with you about your goals for the class. These conversations are important to us, as we can help tailor your experience to suit your specific needs. For instance, if you simply wish to improve or maintain your physical health, we can devote additional time to conditioning. On the other hand, if you want to compete or are concerned with self-defense, we can focus on fighting technique. If you’re worried about being hit in the face, don’t be! Nobody is asked or pressured to spar if they aren’t 100% comfortable, and beginners aren’t permitted to spar anyway.

Vancouver Kickboxing class
Practicing knees at kickboxing class in Vancouver

Your instructor will lead you and any other first-time attendees aside to a private trial area. There, you will be given a personalized rundown of the very basics of kickboxing. You can expect to cover:

  • Proper kickboxing/Muay Thai stance
  • Basic punches and their mechanics
  • Basic kicking mechanics 
  • Rudimentary footwork

Even at the most basic level, spending some time on these core skills will yield great results. You’ll be surprised at how powerful a properly thrown strike can be! As well, keeping your hands up is a simple act that can help protect you in a self-defense scenario. While we are fortunate to be in a relatively safe city like Vancouver, kickboxing can help you to carry yourself with more confidence regardless.

Practicing teep kicks at Vancouver kickboxing classes

Once your group has a good handle on the basics, you will be paired up with either each other or an instructor to do some drill work. You’ll be shown a simple technique or combo to repeat, which will gradually build your understanding of how to “flow” from one strike to another. These combinations are short & sweet, so you can refine your raw technique and avoid being overloaded with too many steps.

Finally, our instructors will put you through your paces with a conditioning segment. These typically involve sustained combinations, multiples of kicks, pushups, situps, and so on. As mentioned above, our instructors are here to help you achieve your goals, to give you the experience you’re after. They’ve brought lifetimes of expertise in kickboxing to Vancouver, and are happy to consider factors like age, ability, and overall fitness for your session. We empower you to make these portions as difficult as you like, and our instructors will push you to succeed.

After Class:

With any luck, by the end of class you’ll be as excited about kickboxing as you are exhausted! Above all, we want you to feel like your time with us was worthwhile. We expect you to sweat, and to be inspired by the level of technique our instructors & other students display. Because of our commitment to providing the most exceptional place for kickboxing in Vancouver, our staff will be eager to speak about your experience with you. We value feedback, so don’t hesitate to let us know any questions, concerns, hopes & dreams, etc. you may have.

DCS is the perfect place to start kickboxing in Vancouver, no matter the reason. Our team of instructors include the coach to a reigning champion in the Glory Kickboxing organization, a multiple-time Muay Thai world champ, and a striking specialist who works with top-level fighters in the UFC. If you’re looking to kickstart a career in martial arts competition, learn a form of self-defense, or join a community of friendly martial artists, there’s no better place in Vancouver. Kickboxing is a lifelong journey, and just by showing up you’ve already taken the first, most important step.

Click here to register for your FREE trial kickboxing class at DCS.

The Benefits Of Kickboxing

Throughout Vancouver, kickboxing gyms are popular hotspots for folks looking to learn a skill & improve their physical health. For us, this comes as no surprise -- kickboxing as exercise offers a range of physical & mental benefits. Better still, it serves as an excellent form of self-defense. Here at Diaz Combat Sports we have a team of world-class instructors providing the very best kickboxing in Vancouver. Below, we touch on some of the most attractive perks of regular kickboxing practice.

What Is Kickboxing?

In general, the term “kickboxing” encompasses a wide variety of striking-focused martial arts. Unlike western boxing, in which only punches are permitted, kickboxing disciplines allow such additional strikes as kicks, knees, and elbows. Karate, Sanda, and Savate are all well-known forms of the art. At DCS, we structure the bulk of our Vancouver kickboxing classes around Muay Thai, one of the most brutal and effective striking arts on the planet.

Physical Benefits Of Kickboxing

An exceptional form of exercise, kickboxing provides a broad range of physical benefits. One of the clearest is endurance -- kickboxing is a rigorous cardiovascular workout that improves lung function & kickstarts your metabolism. If you want to shave some minutes off your Grouse Grind time, or challenge some of the more advanced (and breathtaking) hikes around Vancouver, kickboxing classes are a perfect way to keep your endurance at its peak.


vancouver kickboxing
Training gives you a rigorous full body workout


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DCS Instructor Boom Watthanaya stays in shape through Muay Thai kickboxing and running


High intensity interval training is a crucial component of our class structure. Body fat & calories can be burned at a tremendous rate during these workouts. Better yet, our movements and techniques work specific muscle groups that may otherwise be neglected. Due to their focus on hitting, dodging, and proper footwork, our kickboxing classes are a great way to improve your speed, dexterity, and coordination. If you commit to regularly kickboxing in Vancouver, you can expect a boost to your overall strength and flexibility as well.

Mental Benefits of Kickboxing

Even without the physical perks, there are plenty of reasons why training in kickboxing is an excellent idea. As with any skill, development in kickboxing results in a feeling of pride & achievement as you progress. Understanding techniques & combinations allows you to “flow” between them more easily, hit harder, and train longer. This quickly becomes a positive feedback loop -- as you improve during each session, you’ll crave the next one even more. The experience of pushing yourself and surpassing your limits is an utter joy.


kickboxing training
Training teaches mental discipline


The more you put into training, the more it gives back in return. Thanks to this, it can be easy to establish a disciplined routine for yourself. Self-discipline doesn’t come easily to everyone. Developing & adhering to a training routine will make it easier to do so in other areas of your life. Further, you will find that a solid pad-smashing session offers a good deal of cathartic release. We understand that life can be hectic, particularly in a bustling city like Vancouver. Training regularly can let you blow off steam & help make you a happier, more well adjusted person overall. 


Martial arts training is fun and is a great way to make friends

Another perk of our classes is that they’ll introduce you to a wonderful community of friendly, passionate Vancouver martial arts enthusiasts. At DCS we pride ourselves on maintaining a vibe that is inclusive, positive, and ego-free. The atmosphere & community at DCS -- in addition to the endorphins released by exercise -- are certain to improve your mood!

As your skills sharpen over time, you will likely gain more confidence. Confidence in one’s self can let us face and triumph over any number of daily & lifelong challenges. Still, there is another, quieter confidence that comes from regular kickboxing practice: the confidence of effective self-defense.

Kickboxing For Self-Defense

As we touched on earlier, many disparate styles of kickboxing evolved independently from one another across the globe. Different people, through their various disciplines, have all arrived at the same conclusion: punching & kicking works. In the present day, one only needs to look towards Mixed Martial Arts to see how valuable a form of combat kickboxing is. Despite how much of MMA is contested on the ground, kickboxing remains an essential part of any fighter’s toolkit. If a superior striker can keep a fight standing, they often manage to pick apart their foe with devastating effect. Great kickboxers like Israel Adysena, Stephen Thompson, and Alistair Overreem have long been at the top of their respective divisions.


Vancouver kickboxing classes
Practicing knee strikes at kickboxing class



DCS Instructor and 6x Muay Thai Kickboxing World Champion Lamsongkram Chuwattana doing pad work


Although there are considerable differences between an MMA ring and the streets of Vancouver, kickboxing is still an effective form of combat for both. The reasons behind this are simple enough. From day one, the body mechanics required to throw a proper punch or kick are stressed and drilled repeatedly. A good strike, thrown with proper technique, will be considerably more powerful & accurate than the flailing of an untrained attacker. Basic defense, like keeping your hands up to protect your head, eventually becomes second nature.



DCS Instructors Adrian Shead and Boom Wattanaya demonstrate how to throw a roundhouse kick


Timing, footwork, and control of distance -- some of kickboxing’s trickier aspects -- can also provide great defensive benefits. A person well-schooled in their practice can effectively dictate the terms of a confrontation and escape, avoid, or counter-attack. Head movement and footwork, for instance, can make it exceedingly difficult for an assailant to land a solid blow. Additionally, few people (especially those without martial arts experience) appreciate the power of the front kick. A good front kick can easily be used to both knock a foe back and keep them a safe distance away. 


Practicing elbow strikes


Finally, should an attacker get in close, kickboxing makes a variety of surprising & devastating techniques available to you. Leg kicks, elbows, and knees can be delivered from short distances with incredible power, allowing you to incapacitate or escape your assailant.

 There is truly no shortage of benefits to training kickboxing, in Vancouver or anywhere else. Whether you are looking to maintain your physical health, meet new people, or develop the confidence that comes with being able to defend yourself, kickboxing is an ideal avenue for personal growth. 


Contact DCS for your free kickboxing trial class here!

The History And Evolution of MMA

Mixed martial arts (MMA) came as an innovative idea with a mission: gather a variety of martial arts, let their representatives fight inside a ring or cage, and determine which style is the most effective! Considering how violent, unorganized and dangerous its beginnings were, many people believed that this form of entertainment would be short-lived and probably banned. However, two decades later, MMA enjoys a massive following and stands as the most constantly evolving, fastest growing sport around the globe! The foundation for this meteoric rise resides in the history and evolution of MMA, which is as fascinating as the fight themselves.

Ancient History  

Although today's form of modern MMA is relatively young, the origins of the sport date far back into ancient history. Sportsmen in ancient Greece came shockingly close to modern MMA with their version of hand-to-hand combat, a brutal sport called "Pankration (all powers)". The contest was first introduced around 650 BC, and soon became a staple event of the Olympiad. It represented a combination of wrestling, punches, and kicks, with the athletes utilizing many locks and chokes on the ground -- techniques which would surface again through Catch Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Similarly, the Chinese military during the Han Dynasty developed a combat system called Shuai Jiao which synthesized elements of wrestling and traditional Kung Fu. These represent some of the earliest blends of diverse styles that would later become known as MMA.

Birth Of Modern MMA

Fast forward to the 20th century, where a number of events pushed MMA towards its official establishment. In 1914, legendary Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda took Judo (at the time known also as Kano Jiu-Jitsu) to Brazil and proceeded to pass the knowledge of this traditional martial art on the famous Gracie family. The Brazilians shifted the art’s emphasis from throws to prolonged grappling exchanges. In addition to improving the effectiveness of the technique, it allowed for a downed fighter to find ways to attack and even finish an opponent from a disadvantaged position -- thus establishing the great art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! Parallel to BJJ, another hybrid sport of striking and grappling called Vale Tudo (literally “anything goes” in Portuguese) emerged in the 1920s. Although it incorporated many styles, Vale Tudo fights were typically revolved around an intense rivalry between BJJ and Luta Livre -- a similar grappling system popular amongst the poorer class in Brazil.



UFC highlight reel


From the very beginning, the Gracie family firmly believed that BJJ was the most effective fighting technique. To prove their point, they issued their famous “Gracie challenge” which called on any fighter from any martial art to come to the Gracie gym and test their skills against BJJ. The challenge became so popular that fighters from all continents and martial arts came to Brazil to confront this mysterious technique. However, most would find themselves choked, slept and generally embarrassed due to a lack of grappling experience and submission skills.

We must point out that the explosion of martial arts movies during the 1960s and 1970s played a crucial role in the decades to follow. Movies like "Enter the Dragon", featuring martial arts superstar Bruce Lee as their leading figure, were the first ones to introduce the notion of style-vs-style combat to the big screen and inspire the later foundations of MMA as a sport on its own. 



Bruce Lee helped pave the way for modern day MMA


Shooto, perhaps the earliest official MMA organization, was founded in 1985 in the land of the rising sun. Originally built around turning professional wrestling into an effective real-world combat system, Shooto’s rules evolved through the years and developed into a true mixed martial arts competition. However, for most people, the birth of modern MMA was signalled by the establishment of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), who -- with the help of the Gracie family -- held their first event on November 12, 1993. Apart from a glaring lack of rules and disregard for safety, the early days of UFC will forever be remembered for the domination of one man and his unique fighting style.


Royce Gracie dominated the early UFC's with his BJJ prowess despite being much smaller than many opponents

BJJ’s Dominance and Evolution of Styles

Royce Gracie and his brother Rickson came to the US from Rio with one mission: launch the UFC and show the world the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! The impact BJJ had on this newly established sport was undeniable. Gracie would dominate every giant the UFC threw at him and score an incredible 11 first-round finishes from UFC 1 (1993) to UFC 5 (1995). Royce Gracie established the BJJ as the most important aspect of MMA and the family mission was more than accomplished.



Royce Gracie vs Ken Shamrock in the early UFC days


In the late 90s we witnessed several elite wrestlers enter the sport, their relentless style prevailing over the competition in the following years. The great Tito Ortiz is a classic example of a wrestler finding success with cross-training, adding submission defence and strikes into their ground game and binding this combination to perfection. The wrestlers’ art of dragging an opponent to the mat and unleashing a barrage of strikes, known as “ground and pound”, has become a widely beloved technique! Conversely, other successful wrestlers like Chuck Liddell would master boxing & kickboxing techniques and use their defensive wrestling to keep the fight on the feet. This style dominated for almost a decade and like BJJ, remains one of the most effective weapons of the present day.

However, the MMA game is constantly evolving and from the mid 2000s, flashier striking techniques from traditional martial arts like Tae Kwon Do and Karate began to reemerge. This new generation of strikers already had the foresight to include grappling skills in their game, giving them a massive advantage over the “old-school” fighters. Legends like Anderson Silva and George St. Pierre were true game changers, and probably the most well-rounded fighters in history at their height. Their styles may have differed in practice, but both incorporated four foundational martial arts: Wrestling, Muay Thai, Boxing, and BJJ. Today, success inside the Octagon most often depends on how well-versed a fighter is in these four fundamentals. 



Anderson Silva was was one of the most dominant UFC Champions


Adapting The Rules And popularization Of MMA

Lack of rules, gear, and safeguards for fighters’ safety are the main reasons why the beginning days of MMA are portrayed as barbaric and primitive. During the early UFC events, only a handful of moves were forbidden: eye pokes, groin strikes and biting. The fights were  violent and bloody enough that no media house wanted to get involved with such a perceived freak show. Everything hit a breaking point in 1996 when Sen. John McCain famously stated that MMA is “human cockfighting”, doing everything in his power to destroy it. This resulted in the sport being banned in almost all 50 states!

That’s not a sport, that’s a throwback to the Roman Colosseum.” – John McCain (source)

Luckily, this was a huge wakeup call for the UFC who began putting new rules into action and undertaking everything possible to make MMA more palatable for the general public. Between 1996 and 2000, they implemented the following game-changing rules:

  • Instituting MMA judges
  • Introduction of weight classes
  • Adding a boxing 10 point scoring system
  • Rounds and time limits

Unfortunately this wasn’t enough and the UFC would still see serious changes shortly after. In 2000, Dana White and his business associates Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta set a deal with the bankrupt SEG Company and bought the UFC for $2 million dollars. A year later, they created Zuffa, LLC and immediately switched their focus to adopting a more thorough set of rules which would help get the sport legalized and televised.   

“Without [McCain] doing what he did back in the 90’s to force regulation, this sport would be dead.” – Former UFC CEO, Lorenzo Fertitta (source)

The first big step forward came in April, 2001 when the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board put forward a set of rules which would later become Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts (2009). Putting the sport under stricter regulations and building the UFC brand opened the doors for many TV opportunities in the future. In 2011, Zuffa set a deal with FOX network, which secured for the UFC an income of incredible $700 million over the next seven years. 

On July 3, 2015, the UFC announced its collaboration with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), with the aim of ensuring the fighters were competing clean and making the sport more safe and equal. Although in the fallout we saw many fighters test positive and many fights fall apart, the company’s image benefited immensely.

Where Is MMA today?

Interestingly, UFC set out prove once and for all which fighting style was the most effective. While BJJ proved dominant at first few could predict that 25 years later, the answer would be: all of them!

Stylistically, the difference between the MMA pioneers and modern-day fighters is so enormous that one could easily believe the sport had evolved for a longer period! Although we observed many styles dominating over others, the only successful style in today’s competition incorporates a hybrid mixture of various forms of striking and grappling. MMA gyms have become combat laboratories, constantly producing different training systems and adding new elements. This enables any fighter to hold onto their traditional base (wrestling, BJJ or striking) and quickly build a more complete game around it. Some of the most successful fighters like Jon Jones, Stipe Miocic and Tyron Woodley are perfect examples of a modern-day MMA fighter.

As far as the UFC is concerned, business is booming! Although there are other successful promotions all over the world like Bellator and KSW, UFC still holds the monopoly and dictate the rules of the fighting business. Earlier in 2019, they announced its partnership with the biggest sporting network, ESPN. Without a doubt, the two companies will bring the sport to the highest levels and we’re more than excited to see future changes and evolution of the sport. As a fan, there's never been a better time to get into MMA for yourself. Many MMA gyms in Vancouver -- and the world over -- are attracting world class talent in Muay Thai, BJJ, Kickboxing, and beyond. Having a personal trainer is great, sure, but why not sharpen your skills and join the fun in helping the sport evolve even further?

The DCS Compound, A World Class MMA Gym Coming To Vancouver

The Compound: A Three Storey, 11,000 SQ Foot Martial Arts Training Facility Coming To Vancouver!

Big things are coming from Diaz Combat Sports in 2020! First and foremost, we are thrilled to present our new facility: The DCS Compound. Opening in fall 2020, DCS brings Vancouver a first-of-its-kind, world-class facility fully dedicated to fitness and mixed martial arts. Unlike any other gym in Vancouver, our compound boasts three floors of carefully curated training areas. 

We are dedicated to crafting the ultimate space for fighters, fitness fanatics, and everyone in between to receive the very best instruction at the top gym in Vancouver. 


Construction of the compound is underway!


Programs and Scheduling - The Biggest & Best Selection of Martial Arts Classes in Vancouver

As the largest MMA gym in Vancouver, the compound will give DCS the opportunity to expand our coaching staff, hours, amenities, and number of classes. Regular classes will take place 7 days a week, with class times stretching from the early morning to late evenings. Better yet, we will be able to provide a broader variety of classes to students of different ages, genders, and skill levels. While we currently devote a portion of our class schedule to kickboxing and BJJ for women, for example, the compound will permit us to offer the best women’s boxing classes in Vancouver. A broader schedule means more opportunities for students to discover different disciplines, or to simply train more often. Through scaling up our program selection, we make ourselves an ideal gym for people of all work schedules and walks of life. 



DCS Owner/Head Coach Ryan Diaz gives a quick update about the progress of the new gym


Our expanded class schedule will be bolstered by the further addition of talented instructors from all over the world. BJJ black belt Stuart Cooper, Olympian boxer Manny Sobral, and multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Lamsongkram have already brought their top-tier understanding of combat sports to DCS, and we will continue to build a roster of outstanding instructors at our new Vancouver gym. As well, DCS will continue our beloved tradition of bringing authentic Muay Thai instructors (such as Thanit “Boom” Watthanaya & Adrian Shead) from Thailand to run the best kickboxing classes in Vancouver. 


With more space, expanded hours, and a larger team of instructors, the DCS class schedule will be able to suit almost anyone’s needs. For those with particular scheduling needs, or those who simply wish to have one-on-one instruction, DCS instructors will be available to host private lessons. Those looking for personal training in Vancouver can rest assured that our team of elite coaches will be able to make time for you.

The Facility -- The Most Advanced Gym in Vancouver

The new DCS compound will be a three floor, 11,000 square foot facility in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. The location is close to owner Ryan Diaz’s heart -- after all, the great Bruce Lee chose San Francisco’s Chinatown for his own legendary martial arts studio. From his Chinatown studio, Bruce Lee revolutionized American martial arts. DCS intends to carry on this legacy of martial arts excellence, right here at our Vancouver gym.


The front entrance of the compound


The compound’s main floor is dedicated to our renowned kickboxing and Muay Thai programs. DCS takes immense pride in bringing authentic, world-class Muay Thai trainers to teach in Vancouver. DCS kickboxing instructor Adrian Shead, for example, currently coaches Muay Thai phenom Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao. Petch has held the Glory Kickboxing World Featherweight Championship since 2018, and Adrian brings the same level of passion and expertise to his Vancouver Muay Thai Classes as he does to training his star pupil. Spanning the whole length of the compound, the main floor provides ample space for students of all skill levels. Multiple heavy bags are available, as well as a dedicated room for both private lessons and introductory classes.


Upstairs, the second story hosts our Boxing and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu areas. The bulk of the floor will be covered in high-quality mats for our wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu programs. Stuart Cooper joined our team in 2019, and is excited to continue bringing his world-class brand of Jiu-Jitsu to Vancouver. The boxing area will feature a full-size boxing ring and 8+ heavy bags, as well as a curriculum developed by the great Skipper Kelp. With so much more available space, DCS will be able to provide more students than ever with Vancouver’s best boxing classes.


Fairtex is providing the Muay Thai equipment for the Compound


The lower level, home to our strength and conditioning program, boasts a range of high-quality exercise equipment. Our weight training area will feature a weighted sled, squat racks, and a wide selection of kettlebells and free weights. Our new cardio space gives members more ways than ever to test their limits through an array of rowers, skiers, assault bikes, and a SkiErg system.


In addition to dedicated class space, each level boasts an array of amenities for members. One of the first things visitors will notice on the compound’s main level is our own independent juice & coffee bar. The main floor will also feature cubbies for the storage of training gear & water bottles during class, a water station, and a gender neutral bathroom & shower. The upper floor is home to another gender neutral bathroom, as well as a series of skylights that allow members to work out in beautiful, natural light. Alongside its wide variety of fitness equipment, the lower level is home to both men’s and women’s change rooms -- each with lockers, multiple bathroom and shower facilities, and separate saunas.



With our new compound, DCS will further solidify its position as Vancouver’s (and Western Canada’s) first truly world-class mixed martial arts training centre. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on!

DCS Re-Opening Covid-19 Precautionary Guidelines

DCS Members Covid-19 Policies: 


  1. Instructors will be wearing masks for every session. 
  2. Due to our precautionary measures, if you feel ANY symptoms of illness please refrain from coming to the gym.
  3. There will be no lending of gear. Please be sure to bring all your own gear for each session.
  4. Thermometers will be on hand at the gym. Staff will be checked daily and anyone with a temperature of over 99 degrees fahrenheit / 37 degrees celcius will be sent home. Members may be checked and be asked to leave if temperatures are high.
  5. Please be aware of the designated entrance and exit doors, and use them appropriately.
  6. Please stay at least two meters from our staff and any other client. You will be designated a training area with your coach, and we ask that you please refrain from leaving this area unless necessary.
  7. Only ONE person will be permitted in the washroom at a time. Showers will not be available for use. Please be sure to wash and sanitize your hands & feet frequently. 
  8. Extra hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout the gym for everyone to use. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own towels, hand sanitizers and water. 
  9. There will be no back to back sessions. We will have a 15 minute gap between sessions and ask individuals to leave promptly after their session and we ask individuals to come only 5-10 minutes prior to their sessions and nothing more. This is to ensure that there will be less contact between individuals. 


In addition to all that you are doing to help us, the DCS staff is doing the following to make sure we ALL stay safe and healthy:


  1. All pads, mats, and any other gear you come into contact with will be thoroughly sanitized between every session.
  2. Washrooms, door handles, and all other high-contact areas will be cleaned and sanitized at regular intervals. 
  3. All showers will be closed.

What To Expect At Your First Jiu-Jitsu Class

Students at a jiu-jitsu class Vancouver

What to Expect at Your First Jiu-Jitsu Class 

Whether you are starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at a BJJ gym in Vancouver or anywhere else across the globe, attending your first class can seem intimidating -- after all, it is difficult to know what to expect. While BJJ is an incredibly complex martial art that takes years to master, your first jiu-jitsu class should be an enjoyable experience that introduces you to some basic moves and positions. The latter portion of the class is often reserved for either live training or sparring, known in BJJ as “rolling” -- however, you should not feel obligated to participate until you are comfortable and have a few classes under your belt (some instructors may even make this a matter of policy). Most other students should be happy to conduct specific positional training with you instead, helping you become familiar with essential positions and brushing up on the fundamentals themselves.

First Things First: Jiu-Jitsu Warmups 

Typically, all jiu-jitsu classes from beginner to advanced begin with some form of specific grappling drill as a warm-up. These drills commonly consist of a series of hip-escapes, bridges, forward and backward rolls, and perhaps a few other variations of moving your body across the mat with or without a partner. The forms of motion contained in these drills form the essential building blocks of proper grappling movements, so it is essential to familiarize yourself with them. Don’t be discouraged if these seemingly simple motions stump you at first -- the body mechanics, while sound, are often unusual and may take a few classes to fully grasp. Stick with it and listen to the instructor, with a few weeks of practice you will be moving through the class warm-ups without issues. 


Example of a traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class warm up demonstrated at the famous Marcelo Garcia academy

Learning BJJ: The Moves of the Day 

Your first jiu-jitsu class should be specifically aimed at beginners, and you will likely begin learning about fundamental positions such as mount or full-guard. Learning to recognize these positions is one of the first big conceptual hurdles you will face as a new BJJ student. Your instructor will demonstrate a simple move that will become the focal point of the day’s lesson, such as a basic escape or passing sequence. Try to follow along, but as always do not stress if you cannot master the move during your first class. It is quite rare for someone without grappling experience to pick up a move the first time they are shown, and even advanced students will need many reps before they can expect to perform a newly learned move. 


Learning the move of the day at jiu-jitsu class in Vancouver
A new BJJ student learns an armbar submission



Diaz Combat Sports head BJJ instructor Stuart Cooper demonstrates a basic escape from side control


If you find yourself in an all-levels class for both beginning and advanced students, you may wind up quite lost during the “move of the day” sequence. A good recommendation is to try to pair up with a more advanced student who can guide you through the class. You may even be directed to a specific partner by your coach. Do not be intimidated by coloured belts or cauliflower ears. Many advanced students, including purple and brown belts, are more than happy to help beginners find their way in BJJ -- plus, the feedback they can provide you on specific positions will always be superior to that of another white belt. 


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Class At Diaz Combat Sports
BJJ training is a great way to make friends


A ranked belt at any reputable school will not try to hurt you, and if the class is geared towards all levels, there are more than likely a few upper belts looking to hone their teaching skills and build relationships with new students. As long as you display a humble attitude, willingness to learn, and do your best to pay attention, you will be a fine training partner for anyone. 

If you do end up with another newer student during your first class, your instructor will usually come around to help you both out during the drilling portion of the class. Remember that BJJ coaches enjoy teaching jiu jitsu. A quality instructor will never be frustrated or berate you during your first class. 

Again, your humble attitude and willingness to learn will show from the moment you step on the mats, and most BJJ instructors love to have students of all levels showing up to their class and doing their best to learn BJJ. 

Going Live: Where the ‘Fun’ In Jiu-Jitsu Class Really Begins 

While learning and drilling the move of the day will be a large portion of any beginner or all-levels jiu-jitsu class, most classes will also include at least one instance of “live” training, which is often called rolling in BJJ.’ Typically, this will be a five to eight minute round where you and a partner will attempt to control or submit one another in accordance with the position studied that day. If you are nervous about this, you can always sit and observe during your first class, or perhaps go at a lighter pace with a more advanced training partner.  



UFC legend Nate Diaz does light rolling with a training partner


Jiu-jitsu Vancouver training
Two DCS students roll at jiu-jitsu class


It may be a new experience to have someone grabbing at you, lying on you, and trying to choke you out -- however, one of the features that makes BJJ so approachable is the act of “tapping out”. Commonly used to signal surrender when locked in a submission attacked, tapping is an acceptable way to excuse yourself from any scenario you wish to disengage with. If you find yourself stuck in an uncomfortable position, or matched with someone who is going excessively hard, tap out and politely tell them you are going to sit the rest of the roll out. While this situation is quite unlikely during your first BJJ class at a decent gym, you are ultimately the one to draw the line as to what you can handle when going live -- the tap empowers you to do so. 



Famous author and Youtuber Jocko Willink and a partner rolling 


In any case, your partner should know it is your first day, and ‘match your intensity.’ If you come out of the gate hard, vigorously trying to attack your opponent, you can expect them to turn up the heat. On the other hand, if you pair up with an upper belt and ask to work on the move of the day or some other fundamentals, most students will be more than willing to accommodate you. Your own attitude and aggression will be the biggest factor in determining your experience during your first few live rolls. 


after jiu-jitsu Vancouver class
Those that train together often form close bonds


Overall, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms are generally pretty cool places with positive vibes. You should feel welcomed as a new BJJ student during your first class. Understand that earning real respect on the mats will take years of dedication and discipline. However, as previously stated, if you show up with a humble attitude and willingness to learn, you should have no problem fitting right in at any BJJ gym in Vancouver.


Group photo after jiu-jitsu class in Vancouver