So you finally got the nerve to try that funny pajama grappling call Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) or practice “UFC”. Whatever your reasons may be you decided to take the first step and go to your first BJJ class. Great! Now What?
After you’ve researched gyms that you want to try out in your local area – use these checklists to help you prepare for your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.
If you are trying out a Gi class (Kimono Style pants and jacket) usually the gym will give you a loner gi. You will not need a Gi on your first few classes. For No Gi BJJ you will be fine with just your normal gym clothes.
The main focus pre class is to always have good hygiene and clean workout apparel. You will be practicing grappling and wrestling in close contact with other HUMANS so being and smelling clean is a must!
Once you arrive at the gym early go and talk with the instructor. He will have your fill our new student form and liability waiver. Once done the instructor will show you the gym facilities and will point you to the changing area so that you can get ready for class.
Once you have changed, sit on the side of the mat with the other students who are waiting for the class to start. Or sit on the outside of the mat space till the instructor has called the class together to begin. There may be another class going on – do not interrupt or walk on the mat space where the class is training.
BJJ Class Structure – What to expect.
A typical class will be 1 – 2 hours long.
Typical class structure will go as follows:
Line Up – Students line up by rank (may bow to instructor) class begins
Warm Ups – Sometimes Calisthenics, BJJ Drills and Movements Patterns (Bonus Learn to Shrimp!) – 15 to 20 minutes
BJJ Technique Instruction – Instructor will explain and demonstrate BJJ Concept or Technique. 10 – 20 minutes or more
Drilling – You will pair up with a partner and practice the move – 20 – 30 minutes or more
Sparring – (In Judo called Randori) this is where you will “roll” meaning grapple with rotating partners during timed rounds (like boxing). This is 1 on 1 grappling with your partner. Freestyle practice.
Sparring does not mean striking or punching (unless the class is specifically covering that topic like in MMA or Self Defense Training). This is where you will use the technique the instructor taught you to try and submit your partner (make them tap out) all the while they will be doing the same to you.
On your first class you may sit out and watch Sparring or the instructor will pair you up with partners that will be patient and take it easy on you on your first class. You may just work defense and escapes from bad positions. It will vary by school. However everyone will know that you are new and will help you and “coach” you through the sparring.
Cool down and Line Up -Students line up by rank. Instructor will give a brief synopsis or any other gym news and will dismiss class.
Each gym will have their own unique customs and schedule. Your best bet is to observe other students and follow along.
Day 1 Etiquette you should know
NO SHOES ON THE MAT SPACE. Mats are the area of the gym that are covered in cushion gymnastic material.
If you leave the mat, wear your flip flops. Never walk barefoot in the gym (bathrooms etc). Especially wear flip flops when going to the bathroom.
If the class is lined up at the start or end of class by belt rank – Stand in line at the end with other white belts.
Never talk when the instructor is explaining to the class technique or concepts. Pay attention and focus.
Stand or sit in a respectful manner when instructor is teaching the class.
Save your questions for when the instructor is giving you hands on attention.
Do ask the instructor how he/she prefers to be call on the mats (coach, sensei or by their first or last name).
When practicing technique during the drilling DO NOT GO 100% FORCE or SPEED. Be slow and methodical till you understand the movement.
Know how to tap – If your feel uncomfortable with any technique or situation that is being done to you… you can stop it right away by tapping out. You can also verbally stop the action by loudly and clearly saying “TAP”!
There typically is a formal ending to class. Try not to leave the class before that or without talking to the coach first (respect)
Keep in mind like all other Combat and Martial Arts with a hierarchical structure, RESPECT in BJJ is a huge deal so showing respect in all things on the mats will only serve you in your BJJ Journey.
So in summary – Arrive Early. Be clean and smell clean (Good Hygiene)! Trim your nails. Dress Appropriately. No shoes on the mat. Show respect and have fun!