What To Expect From Your First BJJ Class: A Guide For Beginners

Imagine you've been researching martial arts for weeks and finally decided on BJJ as your first choice. You're excited about the prospect of learning a new skill and meeting new people, but also nervous about what to expect from your first class. This blog post will tell you everything that is going to happen during your first BJJ class and what all those weird words mean!

First of all, don't be intimidated by the other people in the class. Everyone there is a beginner at some point and they will be more than happy to help you out. The instructor will start by giving a brief introduction to BJJ and explaining the basic concepts. After that, it's time for the warm-up. This may seem like torture if you're not used to working out, but it's essential for preventing injuries.

Next, you'll learn how to fall safely. This is another important safety precaution that can prevent injuries later on. You'll also learn some basic grappling techniques and how to apply them properly. Be prepared for a lot of drilling - this is when you practice the techniques you've learned so far.

Finally, you'll get to work on some live sparring. This is the fun part where you finally put your skills into practice! BJJ training schedules are usually made up of one or two classes per week since it's so intensive.

If you can't make it every day, don't worry - just try and come as often as possible during the first few months. Your instructor will be happy to help if you have any questions about anything that happened in class!

Most BJJ gyms will have their class schedule and it can be helpful for you to have a copy of it with you with the dates/times highlighted for you to see visually when to start getting ready.

BJJ is challenging but rewarding and you'll be hooked after your first lesson. Congratulations on deciding to start training - you won't regret it!

What does BJJ training consist of?

Most bjj instructors will have different styles, but most classes will start with a warm-up, followed by instruction on new techniques. You'll then drill those techniques before finally sparring.

What should I wear to BJJ class?

 Wearing a BJJ Gi to Class

Wear something comfortable that allows you to move easily. Many BJJ schools will require you to wear a BJJ gi (kimono) for class, but others will allow different types of clothing. Check with your instructor to see what's allowed.

Most students with long hair will tie their hair.

Women should wear either a sports bra or rash guard under the gi, ask your instructor if a rash guard is required to wear under the BJJ uniform if you are a male.

Women's BJJ Rash Guard In Jiu Jitsu Class

Show Respect and Manners In Brazilian jiu jitsu class

Each BJJ gym will have its own culture of manners and respect, usually defined through its lineage. Here are 3 common Brazilian jiu jitsu customs.

  1. Bow before stepping both on and off the mats
  2. When sitting, don't have the sole (bottom) of your foot facing the instructor
  3. Slap hands (high-five) and give a (fist bump) before sparring

What should I bring to my first jiu jitsu class?

Bring a water bottle and a towel. You may also want to bring a notebook and pen so you can write down new techniques that the instructor teaches if desired!

It's important to wear flip-flops when going to the bathroom as well. It is helpful to also have some nail clippers readily available in your gym bag in case you or your training partner notices sharp and long nails just before class.

A mouth guard is also important, especially if you decide to begin sparring.

Headgear is often accepted to help prevent 'cauliflower ear'.

For men, a 'soft cup' can also be helpful to prevent damage from private parts. Ensure that it is a 'soft cup' style jock and not a hard one typically worn in sports such as football and hockey as certain positions can cause injury to your training partner.

    1. Water Bottle (don't waste money / pollute the oceans), bring reusable bottles. 
    2. Face Towel
  1. Flip Flops
  2. Nail Clippers
  3. Appropriate Training Gear
  4. Clean Clothes To Wear After Training 
  5. Mouth Guard 
  6. Headgear (Optional)
  7. Notepad (Optional)
  8. Soft Cup (Recommended)

BJJ is a close contact sport and having great hygiene is important!

It's recommended to always take a shower, brush your teeth, and before and after class. Make sure to have your nails clipped to prevent scratches.

Bandage open wounds entirely or consider taking some time off to allow for wounds to heal before training again as this can lead to diseases such as staph infections.

What should I expect during my first jiu itsu class?

Expect to give 100% effort for the duration of your class. It's a physically and mentally demanding sport and requires a lot of hard work!

What does OSS Mean in BJJ?

OSS stands for "Oss!" which is the typical way Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters will shout out to their training partners. It's also used as a way to show excitement and other emotions as well!

What does tapout mean in BJJ?

A "tap out" is when you submit your opponent and they are forced to give up. It's one of the most common ways to end a match in BJJ!

What is a submission in Jiu Jitsu?

A submission is when you hold your opponent in a way that they are forced to either tap out or risk injury. There are many different types of submissions, but most BJJ fighters will try to use a joint lock or choke hold to make their opponent tap out!

What is a chokehold in Jiu Jitsu?

A chokehold is when you apply pressure to your opponent's neck and cut off their air supply. This is a very effective way to submit your opponent and can be done with or without a gi!

What is a joint lock in Jiu Jitsu?

A joint lock is when you apply pressure to one of your opponent's joints (usually a shoulder, elbow, or wrist) and force them to submit. This is a very common submission in Brazilian jiu jitsu!

What are the different belt colors in BJJ?

The different belt colors in BJJ represent a fighter's rank and experience. The belts are white, blue, purple, brown, and black. New students will start at the white belt level and work their way up to a black belt (the highest rank?).

 BJJ belt Colors

What is a "roll" in Jiu Jitsu?

A roll, or sparring session, is when two teammates practice their moves on each other. You can either roll with a partner or against the air (if you're drilling techniques).

What is "rolling" in Jiu Jitsu?

"Rolling" is another term for sparring. It's when you learn bjj against a resisting opponent!

What is the most important thing to remember in BJJ?

The most important thing to remember in BJJ is to not give up or quit. No matter how difficult the techniques might be to learn, you should always push yourself and keep going!

What should I wear to my first BJJ class if it is no-gi?

You should wear rash guards and spats or shorts. They should also be washed after class and not be worn again before being cleaned, the same goes for the BJJ gi.

Should you eat before Jiu-Jitsu Class?

It is not necessary to eat before coming to Jiu-Jitsu class. However, if you are feeling lightheaded or faint it might be a good idea to come earlier and have a small snack.

What should I do before the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class begins?

You should also try to arrive at least a few minutes early before your Brazilian jiu-jitsu class starts so you can get changed and be ready to go!

Should I stretch before my first BJJ class?

It may be helpful to have a stretching routine along with yoga a few weeks before to gain flexibility as this sport can demand your body to be put in unique positions. By no means do you have to be a contortionist, but you will quickly learn that being flexible is helpful for this martial art.

A slow static stretch immediately before Brazilian jiu jitsu class is not recommended, while dynamic controlled movement-based warm-ups are. Many instructors will have practitioners training the moves such as 'shrimping' so that it relates to the sport. The slow static stretch can come at the end of class as a cool-down while your muscles are already warm.

What is 'Shrimping' in BJJ?

This is also called the 'hip escape'. It is a very common move used to get out of bad positions and back into a more defensive 'guard'?

What is the 'guard' in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

The guard is a position where you are on your back with one of your legs hooked around the opponent's body. This allows for lots of flexibility and movement to defend against the opponent's attacks!

What is a 'takedown'?

A takedown is when you use your strength and technique to take your opponent to the ground. This can be used in self-defense or in sport Jiu-Jitsu competitions!

What are some dominant positions in BJJ?

The dominant position in BJJ is when you are on top of your opponent and they cannot escape, this can be done by taking their back or passing their 'guard' into a 'side control' or 'mount'.

You can also be in a dominant position if you are pinning your opponent with their stomach (center of gravity) on the ground.

Being in a dominant position is a great way to get your opponents tired and allows for mistakes on their part that will present opportunities for 'submissions'. This is where the term 'position before submission' comes into place.

What to do if you are in a 'bad position' in BJJ?

The first thing to do is try and stay calm. This may be extremely difficult, especially when you are just a beginner in BJJ but it's important that you don't panic, and think clearly on how to get out.

As you continue to go to class, your instructor will reveal more and more ways and specific pathways/techniques on how to do get out. It can be a hip escape or shrimp back into a safer position such as having your opponent in your guard or a 'sweep'.

What is a 'Sweep' in BJJ?

A sweep is when you use your leg to take your opponent's legs out from underneath them. This will cause their weight to be on top of you and will allow you to go on top and into a dominant position!

What should I not expect from my first BJJ class?

You should not expect to be an expert right away. The majority of people have never tried Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before so you shouldn't compare yourself with the other people in the class.

Jiu-Jitsu takes a lot of time and dedication to learn, especially as you progress through the different belt ranks. You should expect to be sore after your first class but this will go away as you get used to training Jiu-Jitsu.

You should also not expect to be able to do any submissions or takedowns as these require a lot of training. The focus for the first class should be to learn the basics of Jiu-Jitsu, which are body positioning and how to defend against your opponent.

How to tell if your gym is a 'Mcdojo' after the first BJJ class?

A 'Mcdojo' is a term used for a martial arts school that is more focused on making money than providing a good learning environment for their students. A good way to tell if your gym is a Mcdojo after the first class, is by how the instructor teaches and how they behave.

  • Does the instructor have a lot of experience in BJJ?
  • Is their teaching style open to your questions and feedback?
  • Does the instructor make you feel welcome and not intimidated?
  • Is there a separate beginner's class for beginners to go in without feeling overwhelmed?

These are all important questions to ask yourself after the first class to decide if the gym is right for you. If you answer no to any of these questions, then this may not be the gym for you. It's important that you find a school where your instructor is dedicated to their students and has a good teaching style to help you progress in BJJ.

Submission Shark has also interviewed a leading expert on this topic, you can learn more about the 'Dangers of Mcdojos' and how you can avoid them in this interview here.

What should I do if I'm scared of sparring?

If you're nervous about rolling (sparring) in your first class, then don't worry! This is a common feeling for beginners and it will go away with time. The best thing you can do is just to try it and remember that your instructor will be there to help guide you through the class. It's important not to let your nerves get the better of you and to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

What should I do if I don't want to spar?

If you don't want to spar then that's perfectly okay! There are plenty of other things you can do in your BJJ class such as drilling, conditioning and learning new techniques. Sparring is not compulsory in BJJ so you can always choose to skip it if you're feeling nervous. This is perfectly okay and your instructors will not think any less of you for it.

What should I do if I want to quit Jiu-Jitsu?

If you decide that Jiu-Jitsu is not for you and want to quit, then we would advise talking to your instructor. They may be able to help you out with your concerns and change your mind.

If you are still adamant that Jiu-Jitsu is not for you, then please talk to one of the staff members at your gym. They will be more than happy to help you out with any questions or concerns you may have.

So there you have it! Our guide on what to expect from your first BJJ class. If you're feeling nervous, just remember to relax and enjoy the experience. Be patient and it will all come in time.

These are some of the basics that you can expect from your first BJJ class. As with anything, there will be a learning curve and it will take time to understand the different positions and techniques.

There are many benefits to Jiu-Jitsu training, so it is important that you do not get discouraged if things don't go perfectly in your first class. Just keep practicing and you will improve with each session! Thanks for reading!

~ Submission Shark

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