Its your First Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class, NOW WHAT?

Step 2 First Day

Now that you have found your new Jiu Jitsu school what will your first day be like?

What to Wear

Before you come to your first class, you’ll need to figure out what to wear.

You usually don’t need a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) gi for your first class; t-shirts, rash guards, board shorts, or sweat pants are all fine. Sometimes, you can wear a gi or uniform from another martial art (ask the instructor about this issue). You will need to buy a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi for any of the gi classes. At my school, we ask that you wear our team gi or a team patch on your personal gi.

Do NOT wear anything with extra pockets, belt loops or baggy fabric. These are dangerous since fingers and toes can get caught in them. Baggy cargo shorts are a common example of things not to wear.

If you already own them, you can wear any protective gear (knee braces, ear guards, mouth guard, cup, etc.) you feel you need, with the exception of wrestling shoes (some clubs allow shoes, others don’t). Athletic tape can be used to protect injured fingers or toes. I do suggest you purchase a mouth guard; they can be found at any local athletic store or from our list of links below.

keiko Gi for bjj
Keiko Gi for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Make sure your finger and toe nails are well-groomed. If you have long hair, you’ll want to put it up in a ponytail or bun during class. You should also remove any piercings or jewelry to prevent injuries. Always use deodorant and have a clean uniform. I don’t want to smell you before I see you:)

Your First Class

You’ll probably want to show up a couple minutes early to introduce yourself to the instructor and any other students. The Jiu Jitsu community is very nice so you should feel at home right away.  Before class starts, you’ll have a chance to get dressed and stretch out on the mats. If you have any injuries, be sure to tell the instructor and stretch that area before class starts. Be prepared before class starts so you don’t miss anything.

You will also want to have an idea of BJJ Mat Rules. Here is a list of my academies mat rules. This will be a general idea of how most schools will be, some schools will have more, some will have less.

  • Bow to the center of the mat when you enter or exit.
  • Keep a respectful posture on the mat. No lounging.
  • Classes begin and end with a formal bow to the instructor with students lining up in descending belt order.
  • During class, when the instructor is demonstrating a technique, all students must sit in seize and watch.
  • If late, stand by the side of the mat until recognized by the instructor.
  • Always ask permission from the instructor to leave the mat.
  • Touch Hands with your partner before and after each training session.
  • Talking should be kept to a minimum, relate to the class subject, and be appropriate at all times.
  • Exercise good hygiene to include, but not limited to: clean gi/no-gi uniforms, short finger and toe nails, clean bodies, fresh breath, etc.
  • The belt represents your progress. Keep it on when training in the gi.
  •   Refer to black belt instructors as “Professor”.
  •   All metal objects, jewelry, piercings, necklaces, etc. must be removed before class.
  •   No shoes, food, or drink on the mat.
  •   Keep your cell phones in the lobby or locker room. If you are expecting an important call, let the instructor know before class.
  •   Higher belts will ask lower belts to roll. Not the other way around.
  •   For safety reasons, lower belts should yield to higher belts when rolling if mat space is limited and contact    may occur.
  •   Keep unneeded gear in the locker rooms.
  •   Clean up after yourself. This includes water bottles, sweat towels, clothing, etc. anything remaining in the gym after class will be thrown in the trash or lost and found.


Some teachers use a very light warm-up, whereas others start the class with a heavy-duty conditioning session. Most classes start with a group warm-up, such as running laps and doing push-ups, followed by solo drills like forward and backward break falls and shrimping. Those last three moves will probably be new to you, so just watch what everyone else is doing and try to copy them. These are to help you learn how to fall safely and move your hips on the ground. I start all of my classes with a 10 to 15 minute warm up. If your starting BJJ when your older, a good warm up will save you from a lot of unnecessary injuries.

Don’t worry if you don’t get the exercises correct at first, no one does on their first day. All of these drills and movements take a practice (drill, drill, drill). Just give it your best try and the instructor or a higher belt will make sure you learn to do it right.


The normal way you signal submission in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to tap your opponent three times. When you tap, make sure you do it hard enough that your partner can feel it; or tap yourself or the mat where they can see and/or hear it; or verbally tap by saying “TAP, TAP!”; or loudly tap the mat with your foot so they can hear it. Likewise, be aware of your training partner tapping and stop whatever you are doing when he does so.

Tapping is just part of training and there is no shame in it. Don’t worry about winning or losing. Just try the techniques you’ve learned to the best of your ability and tap when you need to, ideally before it hurts. A good rule that I always tell my students is “Tap early and Tap often;” this is another rule that will keep you from getting any unnecessary injuries.


After warm-ups, you’ll be partnered with someone or you will pick a partner. If you get to pick, always try to get a higher belt rank your same size. It will help you speed up your learning curve, because the higher rank will notice any mistakes and correct them right away. Now you and your partner will go to your own section of the mats to be taught your first lesson. At some schools, you will practice a beginner curriculum, and at others, you will simply do whatever techniques are being taught that day.


Positional Drilling

After you have warmed up, and drilled the technique of the night. Most gyms will do some positional drilling. Drills and sparring follow the instruction and repetition of techniques. This will be your first chance to try out what you just learned against a fully resisting partner in a live drill. It’s important that you understand some basic rules for all live drilling and sparring:


Basic Rules* No striking, punching or kicking.
* No eye gouging or hair pulling.
* No twisting or grabbing fingers.
* No slamming
* No heel hooks
* No neck cranks.


Remember that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is designed to be trained safely without serious injury. These rules are to help keep you and your training partners safe and healthy.

Sparring or “Rolling”

At most schools the class concludes with live rolling. You may be assigned a sparring partner, and usually you’ll change partners after every round. I like to pick the partners for my students. It keeps people from just choosing people that they can beat, staying in a safe zone. It also helps in intergrading the newer students to pair them with people that will help them during the roll.

At the start of each round, you’ll begin by facing your partner on your knees. When you’re both ready shake hands and start to “roll”: try out your techniques, stopping whenever one of you taps and restarting from knees. Remember go slow and leave your ego at the door. You are there to learn and get better, not to get hurt or hurt anyone.

Some schools start with timed rounds, but allow you to continue doing “free sparring” with no time limits after class is officially over.

After Class

With class over, you might have more questions, now that you’ve trained for the first time. Don’t worry, your BJJ technique will take some time to develop. This is where will come in play. After class and during open mat is your time to drill. Rolling is fun, but to really increase your skills, you need to DRILL! Another great tip to learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is keeping a journal or notebook. I like to see students taking notes after class; notes and drilling will be the key to learning BJJ.

This should answers any questions you might have regarding your first day at your new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy. Good luck and hope to see you on the mat. If you do have questions feel free to leave it here in the comments or on our FaceBook fan page




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