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5 Things to Know Before Your First Jiu Jitsu Class


Regardless of your athletic or martial arts background, your first BJJ class is often intimidating. You might feel out of place, confused, nervous, and inept.

While these are all normal parts of starting BJJ, there are a few things to know ahead of time that can ease the pains of starting your Jiu Jitsu journey.

In this post, we discuss a few of these topics and offer some tips for improving your experience at your first BJJ class.

1: Everyone Sucks At BJJ When They Start

When you look around the room and spot a purple or brown belt with a faded BJJ Gi, fraying belt, cauliflower ears, and the deep facial lines that represent thousands of hours on the mat, it is hard to imagine them as anything other than a total beast.

However, that same grizzled grappler was at one point a brand-new white belt, just like you, and had to go through the exact same process of the nerve-wracking, fish-out-of-water feeling that comes with starting Jiu Jitsu.

The point is that these upper belts know what you are going through and in the long run will respect your grit and determination to train long before they respect your actual grappling skill. However, eventually, you will be able to give them a run for their money, even if that just means frustrating their attempts to choke you out.

2: You Are Not An Inconvenience To The Coaches and Upper Belts

Early on, you might feel like you are inconveniencing your coaches or the upper belts when you have trouble shrimping or need to see the move of the day… again.

You should not try to attend an advanced or competition-geared class on day one. However, if the class is billed as all-levels or beginner level, you should never be ashamed about needing extra help or guidance.

You are not an inconvenience.

In fact, you are the new lifeblood that keeps BJJ going. Additionally, your dues help pay to keep the lights on and keep your coaches employed. You also give upper belts the opportunity to improve their teaching skills, which is a vital component of being a high-level BJJ player.

If for some reason you feel like you are treated as an inconvenience when attending the general BJJ classes, that is a poor reflection on the school and coaches, not a sign that you should give up on BJJ.

3: Many Upper Belts Enjoy Mentoring New BJJ Students

In line with point #2, many upper belts enjoy the process of mentoring new students in BJJ and helping them feel comfortable on the mats. While there are certainly exceptions, in a healthy BJJ school, most upper belts want to invest in new students and encourage them to train.

Anyone wearing an advanced rank likely has a love for Jiu Jitsu that transcends their own training. 

4: Jiu Jitsu Fundamentals are More Important than Flashy Moves

As a new student, it is extremely easy to get ‘shiny object syndrome’ in BJJ. You will see a new move on an Instagram highlight and may be tempted to try it out or even drill it.

While there is nothing wrong with playing around and having fun in BJJ, mastering the fundamentals is far more important than chasing the latest leg-lock entry. In fact, the old school masters of BJJ relied almost entirely on “basic” Jiu Jitsu to win fights on both the streets and in the cage.

The more time you can spend focusing on the fundamental moves in BJJ, particularly survival and escapes, the stronger your foundation will be when you are ready to hit advanced techniques.

5: BJJ Is A Long-haul Commitment

As a new student, it is easy to get caught up in wanting to train all the time. Do not get me wrong, if you get bit by the BJJ bug and want to double up on classes every day, do so. However, do not get discouraged when despite your best efforts, you are still getting smashed after three months.

BJJ truly is a marathon, not a sprint. Training 3 to 4 days per week is more than adequate to see drastic improvements within just a few years. 

Provided you do not overtrain, you will always benefit from more training. However, always ensure your life remains balanced enough to train for the long haul.

There is no benefit to training 6 days per week only to burn out within a few months. The long-term commitment to BJJ is ultimately what results in mastery.

The Bottom Line For Your First Jiu Jitsu Class

While there is no escaping the difficult nature of attending your BJJ class, understanding these points may ease your early growing pains in BJJ.

Jiu jitsu is frustrating, demanding, and rewarding. Stick with you training and you will ultimately flourish as a grappler.

Jordan Fernandez

Jordan Fernandez 

Jordan is a 10th Planet Purple Belt, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and personal trainer. When not on the mats or at the gym, he writes about all things BJJ and fitness and aggressively stretches and foam rolls on the living room floor.

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