BJJ beginner tips for first class

21 Beginner BJJ Tips for The First Year of Training

There is a lot to learn when starting Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Good thing is that you don’t have to know everything before you go to your first BJJ lesson. However, there are a few things to know, such as what to wear and if you have to pay for your first class.

This is supposed to be your guide to help you through your white belt phase, as well as for your first BJJ class and for the first few months. Everything you need to buy and know for the first six months when training BJJ, excluding techniques, that’s what the classes are for.

Some of these tips are written to BJJ with a gi, so no-gi enthusiasts, there is value for you as well. The same tips apply to your rash guards and grappling shorts. Let’s get started!

1. Everyone started somewhere

When you first go to class, you might have the thought that you have no clue what you are doing. Or that you might look like an idiot for not knowing what to do.

Don’t worry about that. Remember that everyone had their first BJJ class one day. They were just as clueless as you are. Maybe even more clueless, if they didn’t look on the internet for beginner tips.

Just listen and learn. Don’t worry if you don’t get everything right the first time. The instructors know you are new and it takes time to learn things, don’t overthink that.

2. Take care of your hygiene

From day one, maintain good hygiene whenever attending to BJJ gym. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a very close combat sport, where you are literally on each other’s skins.

Make training more pleasant for yourself as well as your training partners by taking care of your personal hygiene.

By making sure you are clean, you are more pleasant to roll with. People will not run away if you try to pick them as partners.

3. Cut your nails

This is another aspect of keeping BJJ fun for everyone. It’s for your own as well as others’ protection. By cutting your nails you prevent them from cracking, as well as cutting your opponent or yourself.

4. Switch partners when sparring

This advice should come from your instructor as well. By switching partners, you get to try the techniques against opponents of different sizes and different skill sets.

If you only ever train with one opponent, you will get used to their weaknesses. In the competitions, you don’t have that privilege.

That’s why it’s smart to try to spar with as many people, from different belt colors as possible.

5. Wash your gi after every training session

Your gi will get dirty after every lesson. People sweat, drool, and walk on the floor your gi is getting pulled and rolled against.

That same gi is in touch with you as well as your opponent, so washing it after every time you have worn it for BJJ class is a good move. This way you will keep training as pleasant for everybody as possible.

If you do train multiple times a week, it could be smart to buy two gis. This way, if another is in the washer or still drying, you don’t have to skip class or attend with dirty gi.

6. You don’t need gi for your first class

Most BJJ gyms have the possibility to try BJJ out one to three times before you have to get a gi. That is like trial time. If you for some reason don’t like BJJ, you don’t have to invest any money upfront.

Just some basic indoor sports gear is great. Keep in mind that in BJJ class, you are barefoot so you don’t have to worry about your shoe choice. That’s what brings us to the next tip:

7. Wash your feet before every class

When you arrive at the gym, wash your feet before you get to the mat. This is good manners as well as keeping your hygiene on point.

Keep a small towel for your feet in your gym bag. By washing your feet, you will make training more pleasant for everybody. After all, no matter if you just hit the shower at your home, you still had to wear something when you arrived at the gym.

8. You don’t have to pay for your first class (Usually)

There might be exceptions that I’m unaware of, but usually, gyms allow you to test BJJ out for one to three lessons.

This is the same with the gi. If you dislike BJJ for some reason, you don’t have to be financially attached from the moment you start BJJ.

9. Get a deformable mouthguard

This will make your training so much better. When your mouthguard is made for your teeth, it’s much more pleasant to wear it.

On top of that, it won’t fall off as easily, since it fits your mouth perfectly.

You don’t have to go to the dentist to get this (you can if you want). Regular stores or Amazon will definitely have deformable mouthguards that suit BJJ.

You will warm them up in water to get the material loose and sink your teeth in. According to the package instructions of course, but it’s a very simple operation and mouthguards cost only like 10 dollars. More about the costs of BJJ in this post, where I compared all the costs of starting BJJ.

10. When you buy a gi, don’t buy the cheapest one

This is just my personal preference, but when I first started, I bought the cheapest one. I was a student back then with a limited budget, so I didn’t really have a choice.

However, the gi didn’t feel good. The material was hard and it just didn’t fit well. Going back to a time machine, I would buy a little bit more expensive one just to make my first six months of training a little bit more pleasant.

Look for the reviews, and if you can, test the gi if you have the possibility. This is another thing where I went wrong. I ordered it online, and by miracle, it was my size. By trying it on before you buy it, you can make sure it fits you and what the material feels like.

The gi color can also matter, depending on your gym. More about picking the best gi color in this post.

11. What color should your BJJ gi be?

The most common BJJ gi colors are white, blue, and black. However, during my BJJ training, I have seen a lot of different gi colors. Including the most common ones, but also purple and turquoise.

When buying a gi, keep in mind your gym instructions. Some gyms could have limitations, that they only allow the basic color gis. I am not aware of any of these, but some just might.

If you wish to buy a gi that is some color other than the three most common ones, just to be sure, you could ask your instructor if there are any gym guidelines on the gi color.

More about the best gi colors and which one to choose in this post.

12. BJJ pineapple tradition

You might be aware of this, or not. I will go through it anyway. It’s completely made up “tradition” that you should bring a pineapple to your instructor in your first BJJ class. You don’t need to worry about that.

If you want to learn more about the pineapple tradition, I have a dedicated post about that. You can read it here.

BJJ Pineapple

13. Arrive early and definitely don’t be late

Some people arrive 15 or even 30 minutes before the actual class starts if the gym is empty. They come to chat and stretch with each other.

Usually, the formal training and warmup begin that the time set. So take enough time to change your gi on, wash your feet and possibly have a chat with others.

Don’t be late. It doesn’t look good and you could miss some parts of the warmup. If you are going to be late and you know it beforehand, inform your instructor or skip the class.

14. If you don’t understand, ask

It’s much easier for the instructor to show again, how a certain technique is performed when everybody is still watching.

If you don’t understand, ask them to show it again. If everybody just stands in silence and asks privately, it takes forever for the instructors to show again, independently to everyone again.

There is no shame in asking. It’s much easier to ask than to pretend that you know something but to be clueless when you are asked to perform the technique. Ask without hesitation.

15. Training once a week is a lot better than zero times

Everyone seems to be claiming, that you have to train 3 to 5 times per week to get any progress. That just simply is not true. You can get progress over time by training just once a week, it just takes more time.

Training once a week is a lot better than not training at all. Small habits over the span of years will make a huge difference.

Of course, training multiple times per week will make you progress faster, but it’s not necessary. If your life situation only allows you to train once a week, so be it.

16. Tap out when necessary

The next tip is to tap out when necessary. Even if there was a chance that with brute force, you could get free, accept your loss and tap out.

There is no point trying to get away from a joint lock when sparring. You will only risk getting injured and looking like douche when you are unwilling to tap out when you are beaten.

Here is a full guide on what is tapping out in BJJ and when should you tap out.

This way you will also make BJJ safer for you as well as your training partners. After all, BJJ is a martial art and it has its own set of risks. More about how dangerous BJJ really is in this post. (And how to make it safer).

17. Leave your ego off the mat

This is one of the first lessons I got when I entered the gym. One of the first sentences was to leave your ego off the mat.

This is for everybody’s safety as well as making training fun for everyone. There is no point in trying to show off at BJJ class. You might even get expelled for unsportsmanlike behavior.

Leaving your ego off the mat will also prevent injuries since you can tap out when necessary. If you get outplayed, accept your loss and tap out. Learn from your mistakes.

18. Take things slow

Take things slowly when sparring. Sparring is for training, so by taking things slow, you can really think of what you are doing.

When sparring with half speed and half strength, you will also focus more on the techniques themselves. You will have more time to think about your next move and to perform the locks and chokes correctly. This leads us to the next tip:

19. Use minimal strength required

BJJ is a technique sport. Therefore, use minimal strength when sparring and training the techniques. You should be able to beat your opponent with just the technique.

When sparring, go half speed and half strength. Or even quarter strength, the minimum amount required. Even if your training partner tries to provoke you by using a lot of force, don’t let them.

20. White belts are the most dangerous

Sparring with other white belts is probably the most dangerous thing to do in BJJ class. By dangerous I mean that has the highest risk of injury.

When two white belts are sparring, they might try to beat the other, no matter what. That means they use way too much force and go way too fast.

This opens the door for injured joints or hurting themselves otherwise. Take things slowly on the mat. Always. Competitions are another world, don’t risk injuring yourself or your partner in the class.

If you one day attend a competition, here are some ways you can relieve stress and anxiety before competition or BJJ class.

21. It takes time and dedication to achieve a blue belt

It can take a long time to achieve a blue belt, not to talk about the black belt. On average, it takes about two to three years to get a blue belt.

This of course depends on your schedule as well as how fast you can learn. More about how long each belt is in this post.

Some gyms, I think most of the gyms also use stripes between the belt colors. They are like additional checkpoints before the next color. More about how the stripes work in this post.

Final thoughts

This was my quick take on things I wish someone had told me before my first class or during my first six months of BJJ. Of course, I knew some of these things by googling, but some things I had to learn the hard way.

Hopefully this can help your BJJ journey. I also have a lot more BJJ-related posts, you can read them here.

Have a great day, and remember: take things slow on the mat.

Here are some answers to the most asked questions about BJJ.

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