The Ultimate Guide To Your First BJJ Class

So you’ve finally taken the leap and are going to your first BJJ class. You’re just one step from taking part in something that can give numerous benefits to your life. Although it will be quite a daunting learning experience, it’s definitely one you’re really going to enjoy.

You’re going to feel a lot of emotions from being nervous to excited and those are all normal. For those that are nervous and don’t know what to expect in your first BJJ class, this guide is for you.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about your first BJJ class. We’ll take you through how a normal Jiu-Jitsu class is run and what to expect. Then we’ll give you 8 tips for how to survive your first class.

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Structure of a BJJ class

Most BJJ schools follow a similar structure for how they run their class. They go from intro, warm-ups, drilling technique, and then live rolling. Here is a full breakdown of the class structure for first-timers.

Intro and tour

Since this is your first day, let’s assume that you have already contacted the academy and they’re expecting you. When you arrive you will be greeted by the person working the front desk.

They will first get you through the bureaucracy of signing a waiver before you try your first class. After that, they will take you on a quick tour of the gym. 

Showing you everything, the restrooms to change, where to put your bags, and the training area. Once they give you the tour, they will introduce you to some of your new training partners that are getting ready. You will also be introduced to the instructor if they aren’t busy teaching another class.

How class starts

first bjj class

BJJ class always starts with you greeting all of your training partners. This is where you get to introduce yourself and meet all of your new teammates and lineup for class.

Be sure to introduce yourself to the instructor first if you haven’t already met and then the higher belts. The instructor and higher belts will be sure to take care of you and help you through your first day.

Once you say hello to everyone, you’re now going to line up to start class. Being new, you’re going to line up at the end with the other white belts.

The instructor then bows the class in and gives a breakdown of the day’s class.

Warm ups

Warm-ups can vary depending on the size of the class and the level of the students. The two most common warm-ups are solo drills and partner drills.

Solo drills are where you do different basic Jiu-Jitsu movements to warm up and get your blood flowing. Everything from rolls, elbow escapes, sprawls, etc.

Partner drills are where you get with a teammate and go through different techniques together for time or reps. This could include different submissions, guard passes, guard recoveries, knee on belly, etc.

Then the instructor may take you through a stretch routine before you get into technique.

BJJ Technique

After you’re done warming up, the instructor takes the class through the technique of the day. They will go through demonstrating the movements for the next 10-15mins. 

Going through how to do the movement and why you do the movement. They will explain the crucial details for how to do the technique correctly.

Generally, most instructors break the technique part of class into 2-3 parts. Showing the first movement, letting you drill it, and then demonstrate the next parts to put it all together.

Situational Sparring

Some instructors like to do situational sparring after showing a specific technique, while it’s still fresh in your mind. It’s similar to sparring, but having tighter parameters depending on what the coach wants.

An example could be a 2 minute round of holding your partner in side-control. Trying to defend their guard recovery or reversal for as long as you can in those two minutes.

Live BJJ Rolling

This is where the fun begins. LIve rolling is the part of the class where you get to do free training with your teammates.

This is where you get to put your skills to the test against your teammates. Afterwards, you will be exhausted, but incredibly happy and excited for your next class.

What to expect from your first BJJ class?

first bjj class

Those new to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training always ask what to expect from their first BJJ class. Specifically, there are two things that a beginner can definitely expect in their first class. 

Prepare to be exhausted

Grappling is one of the most exhausting things you can take part in. You might think you’re in shape, but if you’ve never rolled, there is nothing you can do to prepare.

After your first Jiu-Jitsu class, you will be tired, sore, and gasping for air. It takes a while for your body to get used to the training, so get comfortable with this feeling. You’re going to be feeling this way for quite some time, but you’ll start to enjoy it.

Be okay with losing

Don’t expect to go on the mat the first day and tap everyone you roll with. You are going to lose and you are going to lose a lot, but that is okay.

Losing is all part of the growth process of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and you must be okay with losing. It is all a part of the growing process and something that will make you better. Every black belt went through this and it is what help them get to their level.


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8 tips for surviving your first BJJ class

Now that you know the basic structure of your class, here are 8 tips for surviving your first BJJ class. Follow these 8 tips and you will get the most out of your first class and make it a positive experience.

Be nice

First impressions are everything, so be sure to go into your first class with a positive attitude and be nice. If you come in with those two things, your teammates will be friendly and willing to help you out.

Ask Your Instructor questions

first bjj class

This is an important tip that a lot of the more experienced grapplers seem to forget about. Do not be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something or need clarification. The best in the world got to where they are because they worked hard and always asked questions.

Picking training partners

At a good BJJ school, your instructor will already have a drilling partner picked out for you. Or one of the higher belts has been taught to help out the beginners.

If you are left to pick your own partner, be sure to seek out a more experienced teammate. They will help guide you through the techniques and make sure they’re done correctly. You will get nothing out of trying to do the technique with another fresh white belt that is also just learning.

Don’t hurt your BJJ training partners

Remember that this is just practice and you are not there to really hurt your training partners. You are all in this together as a team trying to help one another improve your skills. If you hurt your teammates, nobody will want to train with you and you probably won’t last long.

Relax When Training BJJ

When you’re new it sounds easier said than done, but you need to try to stay calm and relax. Jiu-Jitsu is all about being put in uncomfortable positions and learning to be relaxed and work through it. Once you learn to relax, you’ll be able to improve faster.

Dont Panic!

The one thing Jiu-Jitsu beginners and white belts are most known for is panicking on the ground. This is where a beginner doesn’t know what to do and flails around.

Panicking can get you or your training partners injured. Try to stay calm and control your movements when training.

Good hygiene

Be sure that your training clothes are clean and that you have either washed or put on deodorant before training. Going into your first class smelly is a horrible first impression to your instructor and teammates. Getting the reputation as the smelly guy at the gym is a stigma that does not go away.

Have fun With Jiu-Jitsu

The most important tip that we can give you is to remember to have fun in class. Training Jiu-Jitsu can be one of the most rewarding and positive things you can do in your life. If you remember to have fun, you’re going to get so much more out of the experience.

Final word of advice

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu can be a very special thing that can have numerous benefits in your life. You can quickly gain a passion for it and you’ll want to be on the mat training every day.

If you follow this guide, your first day can lead to years of Jiu-Jitsu training in your future. You will be a happier and healthier person than you were before training.

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Gareth Davies

I'm a martial arts competitor and enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, I have trained and competed in several martial arts. I live in Manchester U.K working as a strength & conditioning coach when I'm not travelling and exploring martial arts around the world.