Your first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class can be intimidating, but also really exciting, as you start a new hobby.
In general, you don’t need to prepare for your first BJJ class, in order to survive. There are also not too many things you need to be aware of since you will be taught the gym principles and guidelines at the beginning of your training.
However, there are some things that can make your first class a bit easier and relieve the possible stress you might be going through. Let’s get started with how to prepare and some tips to help you!
What to expect from your first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class?
When you first arrive, your first problem could be finding the locker room. Don’t be afraid to ask other people you see arriving, they know you are new.
Change on your gym clothes, since you don’t yet have to own a gi or BJJ rash guard for no-gi. It is also highly recommended to wash your feet before you enter the mat.
The class usually begins with some people arriving early to stretch and chat with each other. On top of that, when the class formally begins, there is a time for stretching and warmup.
The warmup depends on what technique you are going to train on that day and is different almost every time.
After you have arrived, changed proper clothes on, and introduce yourself, all the hard parts are done. From that moment forward, you will be instructed on every step along the way, until your first class is over. Happy training!
The guided training will include the warmup, maybe going through some paperwork, gym signups, and such. Going through gym policies and rules and then getting to the point, which is starting to train the basics of BJJ.
The instructors will show first, then you will pick partners among the other newcomers and try out the techniques yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know something. You are new and nobody expects you to learn the first time you try.
Here is a post about the traits of a great BJJ instructor, if you are still choosing a gym.
What to wear for your first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class?
Usually, I would say almost at every gym, you don’t need to own a gi or rashguard for your first BJJ class. Just regular gym clothes will do the trick.
Keep in mind that you don’t wear socks or shoes when training BJJ. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is trained barefoot. Therefore, good hygiene and washing your feet are highly recommended before you enter the mat.
(Pro tip: keep a small towel with you, so as you wash your feet before entering the mat, it makes it easy for you to dry them)
What to bring to your first BJJ class?
You most likely will not need any equipment for your first class. If you want to, you could buy some sports tape and a mouthguard just to be sure, if you will need those. You will need those as you continue your training, but they are most likely not necessary in your first class.
I have listed all the prices and different equipment you could need in your first 6 months of training BJJ. You can find the list here.
How to prepare for your first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class?
Even though you don’t particularly need to prepare for your first BJJ class, there are some things that are good to do and know. Let’s go through each step of your first lesson.
Before the first BJJ lesson
There are some things that are highly recommended to do before you go to your first lesson.
Eat well a few hours before
Training Brazilian jiu-jitsu will consume a lot of energy. The last thing you want is to pass out in the middle of the class because you haven’t eaten for a long time.
Also, avoid eating right before class. That is another way you can get really uncomfortable. Eating and starting to roll around can make you feel really uncomfortable. Eating well a few hours before the class begins is a good way to go.
Take a shower
Good hygiene is really important when training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You are literally in each other’s skins while you train the techniques.
Therefore, take good care of your hygiene and come to class always with clean clothes. You don’t want to be “that guy” from the first day onwards, who does not take care of their hygiene.
Cut your nails
This should not need a long explanation. The last thing you want is to scratch someone during your first BJJ class.
Or another alternative, crack a nail. That can be a really painful experience as well.
Brush your teeth
This goes hand-in-hand with showering. Since BJJ is really close combat sport, you will most likely be breathing in each other’s faces.
Therefore, at least I would wish my sparring partner would take good care of their hygiene overall.
Use clean gym clothes
Make sure your clothes are clean every time you enter the gym. This means washing your training clothes after every training session.
This applies to your gym clothes in your first class, as well as your gi when you buy one. That and more tips for BJJ beginners can be found here.
Arrive early rather than late
By arriving early to your first class, you can make sure you have time to find the right place and introduce yourself. There could also be some signup paperwork you can do before the class.
Arriving late is definitely a good look, especially for your first class. Therefore, make enough time just in case you get lost and can’t find the right door.
When you arrive at your first BJJ lesson
When you arrive at your first BJJ class, there are a few things you can do, to make your life easier.
Wash your feet
Washing your feet is a common practice among BJJ practitioners. Even if you just showered, you still had to walk in order to arrive at the gym.
By doing this, you will show you have some knowledge about basic gym etiquette. It will be much more pleasant for people to train with you when you take good care of your hygiene.
By introducing yourself, you make it easier for people to talk to you as well. You can make a positive image about yourself, simply by saying “Hi, I am…” and maybe doing some small talk on top of that.
It is much easier to introduce yourself in your first class, rather than after a year of training. You also get to know the people and get in on the BJJ group easier.
During the first BJJ lesson
During your first BJJ class, make sure to ask questions and follow the instructions.
It is your first class. People don’t expect you to know everything. Ask questions and do your best. That is all that is required. For you to try your best.
Other new practitioners are also as clueless as you are. Don’t be ashamed if you don’t master a basic technique on your first try. Everybody has started somewhere, remember that.
After the first BJJ lesson
After your first BJJ class, you could stay for a bit longer to chat with others to get to know them better. This is a good moment to ask further questions about the gym, instructor, or just other people’s goals in BJJ.
You could ask whether they have been in competitions and such. Just some basic small talk where you can learn something new about your fellow practitioners and the gym.
Also, when you get home, wash your clothes right away. This way, they will be ready and clean for your next lesson, and you don’t end up going without washing them because you forgot and didn’t want to miss a class.
Other things to know before your first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class
It’s important to keep in mind that everybody has started somewhere. People don’t expect you to know everything when you first join the gym. As a beginner, you are allowed to make mistakes and ask questions, you can not know everything just yet.
Try to learn as much about the gym policies and rules during your first few lessons, so you can avoid making mistakes further down the road.
Also, make sure to ask about gym policies about what kind of Gi or rash guards are needed, and if the gym has some kind of policy about those. (Some gyms only allow white Gi’s). Usually, you will be told what kind of gi you need, as well as some guidance on the size.
People are typically really helpful toward new practitioners. I remember when I first joined and was ready to order my first gi. People would tell me about good online stores to buy from, and let me try their gis on to test the size.
In conclusion: you don’t need to prepare anything fancy. Just remember basic manners and basic hygiene. Of course, different gyms might have different policies, that they might state on their websites for example.
One thing that has been going on around internet BJJ forums is the “pineapple tradition“. It is said to be a tradition, that new BJJ practitioners should bring a pineapple to their first class. It’s mostly nonsense, but you can find more about it here.