What to Expect For Your First Jiu Jitsu Class | Explained

Getting ready for your first Jiu Jitsu class can become stressful, but it doesn't have to be.

In this page, we will cover what to expect for your first Jiu Jitsu class, what to wear, a checklist of items to bring, and what to avoid bringing.

Table of Contents

Know What to Wear

For your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, chances are that you will not have your own Gi to practice in.

A T-shirt, athletic shorts, or even sweat pants are acceptable. You don't have to worry about not wearing a Gi as everyone who is training BJJ has gone through this exact process.

The instructor and students will both understand and help you adapt quickly regardless of what you're wearing.

first class bjj

You'll want to ensure that you don't wear anything with pockets or belt loops, as there are places where your opponent can get themselves 'caught' during a rolling session.

Being able to practice safely is a top priority for you and your classmates.

Have Good Hygiene

BJJ classes will have you rolling around with other classmates for the majority of the class, which makes hygiene that much more important.

Ensure that your fingernails are clipped, remove piercings prior to class, and wear deodorant.

brazilian jiu jitsu

These may seem like common sense to some readers, but you'd be shocked at how many people disregard this.

By disregarding this you can give your classmates a not-so-good experience and they will tend to avoid rolling with you when possible.

Know What to Pack

  • Water bottle
  • An extra T-shirt
  • Towel
  • Flip Flop/Shoes

A water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout your session, and to cool off at the end of your training session.

water bottle

Most gyms have water fountains available in the facility, but due to the covid pandemic, they may not be available full time as they normally are.

An extra t shirt will come in handy to change into after your training session as you'll more than likely be sweaty.

A towel will be used to clean off the sweat prior to changing into your extra t shirt.

Flip Flop is a common footwear choice by Jiu Jitsu practitioners as they're able to seamlessly put it on and take it back off.

There are no shoes allowed on the mats, so before a training session having to take off your socks and then shoes, and then having to put them back on after training can get tedious.

Whereas flip flops you can slip on and take them off in a few seconds.

Know the Basic Rules

You'll learn more advanced rules later on, but since this is your first bjj class these are some of the basic ones you should know.

  • No punching, elbowing, kicking, headbutting
  • No hair pulling
  • No eye gouging
  • No twisting fingers
  • No slamming
  • No shoes on the mat

A lot of these are self explanatory but Jiu Jitsu is centered around respect. These rules are set in place to follow this standard and to ensure everyone is able to practice safely and efficiently.

Almost all of these (except no shoes on the mat) are considered cheap shots, and could earn you a bad reputation at the gym.

Know About OSS

The phrase 'OSS' will be commonly used throughout the gym before sessions, during training, and even after.

It is essentially a phrase used to show verbal agreement, show respect and build morale.

So when you hear it directed at you, know it's a positive thing!

Know How Tapping Works

One of the best features of training BJJ is the ability to train at a high intensity level with minimal risk of injury.

This is mainly accomplished through the tapping system.

Tapping can save you from injury, and during training you should be encouraged to tap.

In fact, Garry Tonon, one of the most decorated grapplers in the world mentions below how often he taps during training.

Know the Class Format

Most classes have this same format of a warm up, transitioning to drills, and near the end of the class you will 'spar' or live roll.

bjj grappling

Warm Ups

Most warm ups will include a combination of jogging laps, stretching and body weight exercises.


Continuing the warm up, the class will move on to a series of drills. Depending on the instructor the drills can vary.

They can be as basic as 'breakfalls' which is a specific movement to practice safely falling down, if you are taken down or thrown down.

Yes, there is a safe way or falling down believe it or not!

They can also drills to pass the guard to side control to build your knowledge and experience on what to do in basic situations.

Near End of Class - Live rolling

The favorite part of most students is the live rolling or sparring session of the class.

This occurs near the end of the class as it gives your body time to warm up and properly stretch to prevent injury, and also after consistently drilling.

Here is where you'll practice using the drills that you worked on earlier, and apply them into a live scenario.

Don't be intimidated, you'll be paired up with someone of similar skill, and if for some reason you're not, the higher level students will understand to go light as you're a beginner.

bjj class

After Class

Now that class is over, you'll surely be sweaty and if you had a positive experience you'll be hooked.

Now is when the water bottle, towel and extra t shirt come in handy.

You'll want to re-hydrate, wipe off the sweat and change into your t shirt so that you don't stink up the car!

From there, you can discuss pricing with the instructor or program director to have a better idea of what you're looking at.

You don't have to sign up on the spot, you can always take all of that information back home to think about it until you're comfortable to make an informed decision.

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