First BJJ Class: Your How-To Guide

first bjj class

It’s your first BJJ class, do you feel nervous?

Feeling anxious and can’t decide what to wear or bring?

What’s the best workout clothes should I wear?

What if I’m the only girl in class?

Do I show up with a pineapple?

I’ll answer all these questions, and ready you for your first Jiu-Jitsu class.

What to Bring?

Here are the things you’ll need to get you settled when starting your first jiu-jitsu class. Here are some golden nuggets for starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Preparations

Begin your first BJJ lessons with these steps and you’ll be set.

Hygiene

Do the whole nine yards. Take a shower before and after class. Never be the smelly dude during training. Brush your teeth, swig some mouthwash and apply deodorant regularly. You’ll be face-to-face for hours on the mat. Sweat and halitosis should never mix. Bathing, brushing, and applying deodorant will make your BJJ lessons more enjoyable.

Always trim and file your nails. Newly trimmed nails are sharp and present a hazard to your partner. Trim the pesky little skin near the nails too. This hurts like hell when peeled and wet with sweat. Long nails gather dirt as you roll. These become favorite breeding grounds for infectious bacteria. A nasty infection may result from the nick and dirt from training. Practice hygiene diligently.

Mentality

Since this is your first Jiu-Jitsu class, it’s natural to be nervous and excited. I still remember my first like it was yesterday. I’d like to summarize this with the Three R’s. Bring these and you’ll do well anywhere.

  • Respect – Martial arts is all about respect. Punctuality teaches you to respect your instructor’s and classmates’ time. Courtesy is shown before and after the class concludes. Listening and following your instructors display that too. You enrolled for a class, listen, and follow. Follow and you will succeed.
  • Readiness to Learn –  Don’t rush to impress. You’ll get to spar in rolls and official matches. BJJ has a multitude of techniques and combinations. Polishing your game will take time and a lot of rolls. Be patient and humble, these qualities will encourage your instructor and classmates to help you in your BJJ journey.
  • Resilience – BJJ is a contact sport so it requires mental and physical resilience. There are pain and discomfort throughout. Quitting won’t get you anywhere. Get better by staying and training. Tapping out is not quitting, it’s just the reset. Pressure testing your game gets you better and tapping out is part of it. Eventually, your body and techniques will develop, and winning will be natural. You’ll only get tougher.

Physical Items

You’ll need a bag, a big one. Choose a bag that will fit all your gear nicely. You can either get a duffel bag or a backpack. Don’t forget a mesh bag for the sweaty gear.

Here is the list of what to wear to your first BJJ class:

  • Gi – The first day is excusable. Most gyms will have a promo when you enroll. The regulars may recommend a tailor. Don’t rush into buying the competition gi just yet. You’ll need more than two if you’ll train regularly.
  • Flip Flops or sandals – It is highly recommended to get footwear that’s easy to slip in and out during training. You’ll need to go for breaks now and then. Never go barefoot outside the mats. Don’t risk bringing anything infectious on the mats because you got impatient.
  • Regular Clothes – You’re pumped for your first jiu-jitsu class. Don’t wear your gi right away. Sit back and observe the group first. You’ll all change together and it is part of the bonding. Showing up in regular clothes is fine.
  • Water bottle and towel – Bring these during training. Place them at corners of the mats. Everyone will have them too. You can take sips from the corner when you’re thirsty. You can drink and watch the lesson. You won’t miss anything.
  • Shower gear – If your gym has a shower area, then it’s best to bring your own. This should include a bathing towel, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Always stay fresh. Bring extra underwear.
  • Tape – The gi’s fabric is quite tough and rough. The skin may peel and abrasions may result from constant contact. The tape protects your fingers and toes safe from abrasions and injuries.
  • Workout clothes – Avoid wearing loose and ill-fitting clothes. These will snag and cause discomfort for you and your partner. Buttons, zippers, or pockets will get in the way while rolling. Compression wear is highly recommended. It prevents chafing and covers a lot of skin. They feel great under the gi too. Board shorts and a fitted shirt is fine on the first day. For the ladies, yoga pants and a tight shirt will do.

The Pineapple Conundrum

No pineapples. In Brazil, students brought fruits as substitute payments. It became a prank recently. The class is paid, no pineapples needed.

What now?

Arrive thirty minutes before your first Jiu-Jitsu class. You can fill up the forms and be toured around the gym. Observe and see the atmosphere. Ask all the questions you may have at this point. Having ample preparation is key to any smooth interaction.

Don’t worry because you’re new. Everyone in BJJ is friendly and helpful. Briefly introduce yourself before the class starts. Punctuality means you respect everyone’s time.

The class is now starting

New students will be introduced and partnered with a senior student to guide you through the training. Always ask when not familiar with the drills.

  • Warm-up – Start the training right. Concentrate on the proper drill execution. The drills build muscle memory. A proper warm-up will lessen the chances of injuries.
  • Class – The technique will be demonstrated and explained for 10 – 15 minutes. New students will be paired with more experienced practitioners. Seldom are new students paired together. Always ask when in doubt. The right execution will serve as your foundation.

Tips on your first class

Don’t stress about doing it right, it takes years of training to be fluent at it. Here’s an example of a technique:

  • No footwear on the mats ever. Be always barefoot on the mats. Flip flops and shoes belong outside the mats. Wrestling shoes are allowed on some occasions.
  • Striking is prohibited. Fast and jerky motions may hurt your partner. Don’t bend small joints such as fingers and toes for the submission. No neck cranks either.
  • Listen to your instructor intently and follow their directions strictly. You enrolled for an actual class and not a McDojo. Don’t practice YouTube moves or correct the instructor. Your instructor earned his skills, and his belt reflects his/her hard work.
  • Match the intensity of your partner. BJJ is a physical conversation. Take care of your partner. Your partner is a precious resource for training. Especially if you’re partnered up with a female or a senior. Technique trumps power in BJJ.
  • Position before submission. Set up the submission by getting an advantageous position. Get the upper hand before finishing. A half-baked setup will get countered.
  • Stop on time. Follow the clock and wait for your next turn. You’ll have plenty of rounds to go.
  • Don’t roll with the black belts just yet. You have an assigned instructor; it’s better to ask from them. You won’t be able to digest the technique yet.
  • Don’t call black belts by their first name. When in doubt, use Professor instead. Address your instructors by their respective titles.
  • Enjoy the Roll. This may be nerve-wracking, but in time, you’ll appreciate it. The roll is the best form of practice. Test your strategies and hone your skills during the roll. The more you roll, the better you get.

Tips for a first time Roll

Here’s a video of Demian Maia (BJJ and UFC champion) rolling live:

  • BJJ isn’t about explosiveness, battles are won through sustained pressure, attrition, and technique. Take your time and think. Allocate your stamina accordingly. There will be multiple rounds too.
  • Don’t panic and remember your lessons. Most new students try to outmaneuver their rolling partners using speed. Quick jerky movements may hurt your partner. Don’t rush, think your way out.
  • Relax, it’s only practice. No need to impress anyone. Absorb the technique and experience of live resistance training. Immerse yourself and have fun!
  • Listen to your body. If you feel a slight pain from your joints, tap out. Don’t force it and risk injury. There will be no deductions or penalties if you tap out. The roll will reset after the tap. Great rolling mates take care of their partners

The class just ended

Before the class officially ends, stretches are done to relieve the tension from the roll. Focus on stretching since your body will be sore from the training. After that, you’ll line up and bow. Every gym or school has its closing custom. Observe and follow their lead.

Open mats may be declared, and people will take advantage. Fighters and competitors will take advantage of the extra training.

If your gym has a shower area, take a shower. Hygiene is key. This should wash away the sweat and dust that you’ve gathered in training. This prevents possible infections. It relaxes your muscles after a grueling training session.

Don’t wear your sweaty gi on the way home. Stow your gi in the bag or the trunk. Don’t be the smelly dude.

You’re going home or at home now

Always drive safely. Don’t go home distracted. Rest a bit and clear your head. Get home safely so you can train another day.

Eat dinner after training. Refrain from fast food and eat nutritious meals. It’s always better to consult a dietitian when planning for a diet. A balanced diet is essential for recovery and growth.

Get enough sleep. I can never stress this enough. Your body needs to recover, and sleep is the other half. Social media and work can wait. Do not abuse your body. Apply a No Sleep, No Roll Rule. Sleeping gets you stronger.

Sweaty gis go straight to the laundry. Never use unwashed gis ever. Your gi will get dirty over the hours of training. Bacteria will breed in the nasty corners of your gi. Have more than two gis for training. Get a third official competition gi with your school’s patches for the official matches. Always remember to practice diligent hygiene.

Practice tying your belt. There are videos on Youtube; watch and practice. A good knot will prevent your gi from being undone during training. Complete the snappy look with a good knot.

Top Tips

We have gone through great detail on how to go about your first BJJ class. But here are some Top Tips to keep yourself energized during BJJ.

  • Remove watches, jewelry, piercings, and cosmetics. These will get in the way of training.
  • Compression wear works best. It covers more skin and prevents chafing. It doesn’t feel sticky or gross either.
  • Don’t get intimidated. They are kind and helpful. They were beginners who never stopped.
  • Be humble, even black belts stay silent and listen. Humility is the first step to greatness. There’s someone better than you. Take advantage of that and learn.
  • Believe in yourself, all black belts were once white belts. Your body type does not matter. The technique will pull you through. BJJ will transform you through training.

FAQ

Can I start BJJ at 30?

Yes, you can. 30 is the new 20.

What is the best age to start BJJ?

Any age is the best age. It is never too late for your first Jiu-Jitsu beginner class.

Is BJJ hard to learn?

Yes, it is. It has its own set of challenges and that is what makes it exciting.

How do you start Jiu-Jitsu for beginners?

Just go and attend the class. You don’t have to be a historian when starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You just have to practice. Consistency is key.

I’m a lady with a small frame, will I get hurt during class?

No, you won’t. Instructors will partner you with someone close to your weight and frame for the drills. Naturally, your partner will match your skill so you can learn.

Will it be awkward if I will be the only female in class?

No, it won’t. You won’t be seen as a female per se, but another student who may have a delicate frame. The students will be more focused on digesting the material rather than having “thoughts” about another student.

Where can I get a gi?

The gym can provide you one on your first day. Some gyms sell training and competition gis. Instructors and regular students should have the contact details of the store they bought their gi or a tailor who makes them.

What do I wear to my first Jiu-Jitsu class?

Preferably, tight clothes. For men, rash guard and board shorts are great. For women, rash guard, and yoga pants.

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