Tips on Surviving Your First BJJ Class

Tips on Surviving Your First BJJ Class

So you've decided to take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? That's great! BJJ is an awesome sport. You’re on your way to attend your first BJJ class. You’re excited, nervous, and probably have so many thoughts about your first Jiu Jitsu Class. Your probably thinking: “I have no idea what I’m doing! What did I get myself into? Please help me.”

Just relax. All journeys have a beginning and every colored belt started exactly where you are now and had the same feelings. Jiu Jitsu is an amazing martial art that you never stop learning and can really become a passion in your life.

Here is a small guide that will help you in taking your first steps into Jiu Jitsu and being a part of the wonderful community of friends that choke each other for fun!

What To Bring in Your First BJJ Class?

You’re going to need to have specific things for your first jiu jitsu class. It will depend on if it is a gi or no gi class

  • BJJ Gi - In a Gi Class, you will definitely need a Gi or you're going to have to use one of those awful spare gym Gi's. If you're just starting out, we'd recommend getting a starter gi - there are plenty of cheap and affordable Gi's for under 100 
  • No Gi Clothes - For a No-Gi Class, all you will need are some MMA/BJJ Shorts, Compression Tights, and a Rashguard. If you don't have any of these yet, that'll be perfectly fine. You can use an Under Armour type elastic shirt and a pair of shorts. Just make sure your shorts don't have zippers or pockets - that's a safety hazard during training. 
  • Water -  Not all schools provide water - so make sure you bring a large bottle. Stay hydrated - you'll sweat A LOT. 
  • Flip Flops/Sandals - You will need something to walk around on when you are stepping on/off the mat. 
  • Mouth Guard - Not everyone uses them, but accidental blows to the face isn't uncommon in BJJ. It doesn't hurt to have one to keep your teeth protected. If you have one definitely bring one. 
  • Sweat Towel Bring a towel, you'll be sweating a ton on your first day. 
  • Change of Clothes You're going to be drenched afterwards. You're probably going to want to get changed into some dry fresh clothes afterwards. 

Preparation Before Class

Learn the rules: Learning the do’s and don’ts before your first BJJ class will give you a better grasp of class goals.

Be Clean: Good hygiene is important etiquette in a BJJ school. You don’t want to be the smelly person nobody wants to train with in class. Shower and put on deodorant beforehand. 

Learn To Tie Your Belt: Take some time to learn how to tie your belt. Either watch a video or ask somebody in class for help.

How to tie you BJJ Belt

Cut Your Toe/Fingernails: Make sure to cut your finger/toenails. Slicing somebody up with Freddy Krueger nails is not a good lookin your first BJJ class.

Arrive 10-15 Mins Early: It’s good arrive early before your first Jiu Jitsu class to know where everything is in the gym.  You’ll have time to learn the class’s format, and have time to introduce yourself to your instructor and the other students in class.

BJJ Class Structure

Before your first Jiu Jitsu class starts all of the students greet each other. The jiu jitsu community is extremely friendly, so be sure to greet everyone in class including the instructor/professor.

Generally class starts with a bow to start class and the professor explains the class lesson for the day. They will take care of making sure you’re in the right spot and make sure you’re okay throughout class.

Warm Ups

This is the beginning of class that’s purpose is to get the students loose and warmed up for the upcoming class. It will either consist of line drills for solo techniques (front rolls, elbow escapes, etc) or partner drills(submissions or positional) for reps or time.. Also depending on the instructor, there may be calisthenics involved.  

Technique

This is part of the class is where you develop new skills, so be sure to pay attention to the technique demonstration and try to understand the basic principle of the movements. The professor will usually either make sure to break down the technique in the simplest terms for beginners or pay close attention to see if you’re drilling the technique correct.  

Jiu Jitsu Training Instructions

Picking a Partner

In your first Jiu Jitsu class some instructors will actually make things easy for you and pick your partner for you. Higher belts are also generally taught to help beginners by partnering with them. Though, if you do get to pick your own partner seek out a more experienced student.. Drilling with a more experienced teammate will give the chance to learn the move at the most optimal level.  

Tips to Remember While Drilling

Here are just a few tips to remember when drilling techniques on your first BJJ class.

  1. Don’t resist: When drilling don’t try to resist the move. This part of jiu jitsu is where you learn the move and let each go through the technique. It does you and your partner no good if you’re not letting them do the technique.
  2. Making Mistakes Is Okay: You won’t get everything correct on the first try, so don’t stress out when you make a mistake. This is a learning process and you have to put the reps in to get better.
  3. Ask For Help: If there is something you don’t understand, then don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what your instructor and teammates are there for. Everyone is there to get better and help each other.
  4. Don’t Coach: You’ve never done this before, so don’t try to correct teammates on something you have no experience doing. It will really annoy a more experienced teammate if you try to give them pointers about a technique. 
  5. Write Things Down: Keeping notes may help you remember parts of a technique. It’s also good to make a note, while it’s fresh in your head before you forget.
  6. Don’t Hurt Your Teammate: Technique is supposed to be done at a smooth calm pace. Please do not do the technique full force and potentially hurt your opponent. That is being a bad partner.

Live Rolling/Sparring

Now this is where things are going to get interesting. This is the part of class, where everybody spars against each other, trying different techniques to best each other. Some might be going full speed and some might be taking it easy with some nice controlled movements.

BJJ Live Rolls and Sparring

Don’t have a panic attack it’s going to be fine! This is everything you need to remember before rolling on your first BJJ class.

Breathe: New people have a tendency to hold their breath when they roll, so be sure to relax and remember to breathe. Grappling is very tiring and you’re going to need that oxygen.

Don’t Spazz: I know you’re being put in a stressful situation, so try not to freak out and spazz. If you moving frantically without thinking, there is a possibility you could hurt you or your partner.

No Small Joint Manipulation: Bending fingers and toes are not allowed, so be sure not to take your partner’s finger off.

Take Breaks: This is your first BJJ class, so you don’t need to kill yourself. If you need a break take it.

No Punching Or Kicking: This is BJJ not MMA, so don’t start try doing some ground n pound on your poor partner.

You May Not Even Roll: Some instructors don’t let new people roll during your first Jiu Jitsu class. Don’t get too bummed if you don’t end up rolling. Take the opportunity to see how your teammates roll and be prepared to grapple in the next class.

Rolling With Coach First: There are some other instructors that will be the first person you roll with. The purpose of this is for them to show you the proper pace to roll at and let you work. Don’t try to hurt the coach when they’re letting you work.(It won’t go well for you.)

Learn To Tap: Any time you get put in an uncomfortable position remember it’s okay to tap. Tapping out . Also tap on the person, so they know you’re beat or say tap if you aren’t physically able to.

Be Okay With Losing: Understand that you’re new to this and going to be getting beat a lot and that’s okay. Even the best grapplers in the world with years of experience still get submitted, so don’t get upset. You will learn and get better.

No Footlocks: Since you haven’t practiced leglocks it would be better to stay away from them at first. You could seriously hurt your teammate cranking on their foot forcefully.

Have Fun: This is the most important thing to remember on your first BJJ class. Jiu Jitsu is supposed to be fun, so remember to have fun! When you are at BJJ, you're among friends! 

You're Ready to Train!

If you follow these tips, you should have a great first Jiu Jitsu class. There is nothing else in the world like BJJ. Once the passion hits you it makes you feel like you can do anything. Maybe after a few sessions, you might get addicted like the rest of us!

Good luck with your first BJJ class, now go out there and have some fun! Osss!!!