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How to Get Started in BJJ (Beginners Guide) | Grapplers Graveyard

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Getting started in any combat sport can be intimidating. There are thousands of techniques to learn and thousands of different goals to accomplish. With all of that being said, what is the best way to dip your toes into the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

In This Article

In this article, we answer the important topics to consider before starting your BJJ journey. Here is a taste of what is ahead:

  • Questions to Ask Before Signing up
  • Fundamental Positions to know of
  • How to spot a Good Gym
  • Tips on Starting Jiu-Jitsu
  • How to Prepare for Your First Class

how to get started in BJJ

5 Questions to Ask Before Signing Up

  1. Is this a sport I am willing to put my heart into:

    Excelling in any martial art takes time, discipline, motivation, and endurance. Your Jiu-Jitsu career is a marathon, not a sprint.

    It is important to understand that to exceed in BJJ, you have to be committed to the art.

    This means you may have to sacrifice some time with friends or family to pursue your endeavor.

    Before signing up to learn Jiu-Jitsu, ask yourself if you have the time and discipline to keep moving forward even when things get rough.

  2. What are my goals in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu?

    It is essential to ask yourself why you are getting into martial arts in the first place.

    The answer to this question will directly affect your training and motivation. A practitioner that wants to be a world champion is going to train at a different pace than a grappler who just wants to lose some weight.

    If you want to make it big in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu, you will be training constantly almost every single day. If you are an average grappler that hops into class now and then to get some type of physical workout in, there isn’t a need to stress over getting into the dojo more than a couple times a week.

    Your training schedule, diet, and hydration level should all rely on your goals and aspirations.

  3. Am I prepared to be at risk of injury:

    One of the sad truths of BJJ is that if you train long enough, you are inevitably going to get injured. Whether it be from an un-intentioned knee or an Armbar you tried to fight out of, experiencing pain is part of the process. Before signing up for a combat sport make sure to ask yourself; am I prepared to be injured? If you are worried about passing out, infected cuts, or even broken arms, maybe Jiu-Jitsu isn’t for you.

  4. Will I have time to train?

    The majority of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in 2023 are over the age of 25. This means that most of them have part or full-time jobs that they have to rely on to feed themselves or their family. For many grapplers, finding time to train before or after work is extremely difficult. You want to make sure that you can consistently come in to train a few days a week. If you look at BJJ as more than a hobby, do your best to find time 5-6 days a week to get some rolls in. Consistency is key! Make sure can train enough to reach your goals and aspirations.

  5. Do I have enough money to commit to the sport?

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be an extremely expensive sport. Not only will you have to pay a membership fee for your dojo, but you will also have to buy your own equipment which is very pricy. A typical Gi can cost you anywhere from eighty to two hundred dollars. A rash guard set costs around one hundred to one hundred forty dollars. Additionally, signing up for tournaments can be extremely pricy costing up to one hundred and twenty-five dollars to get registered. All of this cost add up fast. It is important to be in a good financial situation before you commit to the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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Can You Start Jiu-Jitsu at Any Age?

Of course! One of the incredible things about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that BJJ practitioners can be of any age.

There are children under the age of five and even adults over the age of 60 that thoroughly enjoy the sport.

Although aged practitioners may have trouble competing, they still have the ability to walk into a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class and learn new techniques. The BJJ community is extremely welcoming to anyone who begins to train in the martial art whether you’re a man women, kid, or adult!

No matter what the age, the sport of Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone!

Jiu-Jitsu For Beginners: The BJJ Fundamental Positions To Learn First

The fundamentals of BJJ are extremely important for new practitioners to learn, they are the base foundation of your whole game and they will always be there to fall back on when you need them. So what fundamental positions should you focus on first?

  1. Standing position:

    It is extremely important to be comfortable on your feet in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu. Every match of every tournament you go to will have you standing up when the fight starts.

    Although guard pulling is an option, it is nice to know a few takedowns you can rely on right as the match starts.

    Not only will takedowns give you two points, but they typically land you in dominant positions allowing you to attack multiple submissions of your choice.

    Do not neglect the stand-up game when you first start your Jiu-Jitsu training.

  2. Guard:

    As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, you should focus on having a rounded-out set of skills that you can fall back on in any scenario.

    Guard is an extremely important position that must be learned to excel in the sport.

    New athletes may be overwhelmed by the amount of guards there are to learn and practice. The best way to go about learning how to play from these positions is to pick a few styles that you enjoy and stick with them. Eventually, your guard will branch off and you will find new styles that can be applied and used during your rolls.

  3. Side Control:

    Having the ability to attack from top-side control and escape from the bottom is extremely useful during live rounds and matches.

    There are plenty of submissions that can be used when you have someone in side control. Kimuras, chokes, and even straight Armbars are easily accessible from this dominant position. It is important to learn how to attack from side control. You will be using the position for the rest of your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu career.

    As for escaping, there are plenty of ways to simply and effectively escape someone’s side control. It is a matter of drilling these escapes and practicing them during live rounds to become fast and fluid.

How to find a BJJ gym in your local area

There are a few ways that you can find good local gyms in your area.

The most obvious strategy is to use the internet. It is super easy to hop online and search for BJJ gyms near you. It is important to read reviews and try free classes before committing to one dojo that looks good online.

Steps

  • Search for “bjj + your city + your state” in your favorite search engine

  • Look for a website with images, location, and schedule

Another simple way to find good gyms near you is to ask a friend. With the rising of social media, it is super easy to keep in contact with people who have similar interests. Ask a Jiu-Jitsu friend online or in person what gym they go to and consider trying out there!

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How to Know if you are at a good gym

With so many options nowadays, it is not that difficult to find a good gym near you. There are a couple of things to look for when trying to find the best in your area.

  1. Teammates That Challenge You

    The most important thing to look for in a Jiu-Jitsu club is high-level teammates that are going to challenge you during roles. Experience has shown that the best way to improve in any martial art is to challenge yourself to go up against your more experienced teammates consistently. Even if you are losing most of your rolls, every match is a learning experience and a new opportunity to pick up some fresh moves

  2. Good Coaches:

    Having a solid mentor in a Jiu-Jitsu dojo can be extremely beneficial for competitive athletes who want to excel in their sport.

    Even for those who don’t compete often, good coaches will not only push you to your limits but will also know the right process to take you from a white belt through to your black belt.

    Practicing Jiu-Jitsu with the help of a good mentor is a surefire way to progress in the sport.

  3. Excellent facility and staff:

    Another important aspect of a gym is its hospitality. If the owner and the staff are hostile, you most likely do not want to train at their gym.

    You want to find a dojo that respects you and helps you grow as a person.

    Along with that, making sure that you’re practicing Jiu-Jitsu in a clean and sanitary environment is essential.

    You are signing up for a grappling martial art. Typically, in close combat sports such as BJJ and Wrestling, skin diseases spread rapidly.

    It is important to make sure you are grappling on clean mats in a clean facility.

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Four Tips To Start Jiu-Jitsu

Diving into the deep water of BJJ can be a little intimidating when you first start checking it out. There are hundreds of gyms, techniques, and competitions around the world, so where should you begin?

  1. Do your research:

    Before you start training, it is suggested that you research more about what you are getting yourself into. Understand that Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art and is not like a regular sport. BJJ practitioners can be severely injured practicing or competing in their fights. Make sure to fully understand the main aspects of the martial art before signing up at a local gym.

  2. Do not buy expensive equipment at first:

    You shouldn’t be showing up to your first BJJ class in a $250 gi set with the newest duffle bag from your favorite brand.

    When you begin your BJJ journey, it is suggested that you buy fairly cheap yet reliable gear just in case the sport ends up not being for you.

    No one wants to drop hundreds of dollars on equipment just to let it sit in their closet for years to come.

  3. Do not get too frustrated: Jiu-Jitsu can be an extremely technical and difficult martial art to learn. There are going to be many instances where you find yourself stuck on a plateau. A plateau in sports is recognized as an instance in time when you feel no progress is being made. These halts in progress can be extremely demotivating and frustrating. Although these challenging feelings are inevitable for committed athletes, it is important to not get too frustrated during your training sessions. Here are a few quick ways to break out of your plateau.

  4. Start training with a friend: Starting to practice Jiu-Jitsu with a friend has an incredible amount of benefits. For one, having a friend train with you means that you will be held accountable for being lazy. Everyone gets lazy now and then. Maybe you’re making up excuses so you don’t have to go to practice. A good friend will call you out on those excuses and encourage you to come to practice. A good friend will make training a more enjoyable experience overall. Having a buddy that you can hang out with and talk to during practice helps keep your motivation up as well. Although talking during class is not always bad, chatting too much can decrease your productivity and progress. Don’t restrain yourself from talking but keep in mind that you are in the Dojo to train Jiu-Jitsu, not to talk to your friends. Additionally, having a friend to train with will make you more comfortable and outgoing on the mat. Everyone knows how scary it is to try a new hobby alone. You may feel as if you are the only one in the room that doesn’t understand what’s going on.

Cross train:

Cross-training is one of the easiest ways to escape your inevitable plateau in the sport of BJJ.

Practicing different sports will allow you to take a break from the repetitive technique and drilling that comes with practicing Jiu-Jitsu. Not only that but cross-training has been proven to be beneficial for BJJ practitioner’s techniques.

Many world-level athletes practice or have practiced other martial arts including wrestling, Judo, and even Muay Thai.

These sports all have techniques and/or movements that can be beneficial to your skill set in BJJ.

When you are struggling to find motivation in Jiu-Jitsu, train and practice in other martial arts until that motivation returns.

Switch it up during practice:

If you are constantly drilling the same, fundament moves over and over again every day, there is no doubt that you will get burnt out of the sport. Make sure that you are enjoying yourself during training sessions; Jiu-Jitsu is all about having fun. Try a new, flashy technique or roll with teammates you don’t usually train with. Anything to get you out of the hamster wheel that BJJ can be.

Adjust your game:

In the sport of Jiu-Jitsu, practitioners typically fall into two categories. There are guard pullers and there are stand-up/passing players.

Ideally, you should be practicing both styles regularly. If you don’t, you are more likely to feel stuck and trapped instead of excited and motivated. If you find yourself in a plateau, try switching it up and practicing the other side of BJJ. If you’re a practitioner who only plays guard, consider learning some takedowns and guard passes. Not only will this increase your overall understanding of the sport, but practicing the other side of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will ensure that you do not get too stuck in one mindset while training at your dojo.

Take a Break:

Sometimes as an athlete, you may just need a break. Sports have the ability to allow you to thrive, they also have the ability to corrode your spirit. If you have tried cross-training and nothing is working, consider taking a break from martial arts for a while. Take a break and spend some time with family and friends. There’s no shame in taking some time off in your sport. If you are experiencing burnout, consider taking some time for yourself to relax. Come back to Jiu-Jitsu when you feel ready

What Should I Do to Prepare Myself?

There are plenty of ways to prepare yourself before starting to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

  1. Get in shape:

    Although it is recommended, getting into shape is not mandatory. Thousands of white belts start taking Jiu-Jitsu classes in order to lose weight.

    With that being said, technique and progress will come a lot quicker if your body is in good shape. Jiu-Jitsu is a tough sport, there are going to be times during matches when you are dead tired. Those sprints on the track and those hours lifting weights in the gym will come in handy during tough situations.

  2. Research technique:

    Before stepping on the mats for your first BJJ class, consider researching fundamental techniques that are likely to be taught at your dojo.

    The more you study and watch films, the easier the technique will come to you. Many high-level athletes research new ways to attack their favorite techniques from different positions.

    For instance, if a grappler likes to transfer from a Triangle to a Straight Armbar, watching footage and researching could help them find new techniques to practice such as the Triangle to Kimura setup or the Triangle sweep.

    Taking in information about the sport of Jiu-Jitsu is never a bad idea before walking into your dojo

The Average Cost Of The BJJ Classes

On Grapplers Graveyard, we have a complete article that can be found about the cost of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Go ahead and read that (source).

The average BJJ gym membership is going to cost around $140 per month. It is going to cost you more than a standard gym membership. Every BJJ gym will be different with what their membership offers and can get you but most the time you are getting an unlimited amount of classes with your membership.

What gear do you need to get started in BJJ?

Uniform: Gi

The Gi is one of the most important pieces of equipment in Jiu-Jitsu, if you’re looking for your first Kimono, consider buying a Gold BJJ Gi! Gold BJJ sells high quality equipment for lower than low prices!

Rash Guards and Shorts

If your looking to buy a nice rash guard set that’s affordable and stylish, consider looking into Future Kimonos! Their products are a little on the expensive side but worth every dollar. Their high-quality material and slick design ensure that you look and feel good on the mats!

Body Hygiene

Body hygiene is extremely important in Jiu-Jitsu. We recommend filthy animal soap! With all natural ingredients, filthy animal soap leaves your body feeling refreshed! Click here to buy on our website now!

Always Improve Your Jiu-Jitsu

One of the beautiful attributes of Jiu-Jitsu is that there is no end to your learning. You could spend 10 lifetimes training and there would still be a thousand more techniques to discover. The easiest way to improve your Jiu-Jitsu is to stay consistent and pay attention during class. If you are listening to what your coaches have to say, applying it during live rounds, and showing up consistently to class, Your progression in the sport is going to skyrocket.

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Things that will change after Training

Even after your first BJJ class, you will notice things about your body and mindset will have changed. Jiu-Jitsu has so many positive benefits it would be a shame to miss out on them.

Transformation of Your State of Mind

Jiu-Jitsu, like any other combat sport, can be very tough on the mind. There will be times when you are in a uncomfortable position and you feel like tapping out, but you have to endure and keep fighting. This applies not only to BJJ, but to life as well. There will be plenty of times in life when you feel like you want to quit, whether it is a job, a relationship, or anything else. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to endure those dark and uncomfortable times to make it through till the end of the fight.

Transformation of your body

The first thing that you will notice after your initial BJJ class is how tired and sore you are. This is very common among all belt levels. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may be tough in the moment, but over time the sport will make you stronger, faster, and a better all-around athlete. The high-paced stand-up game matched with slow methodical submissions makes for an incredible show. The best of the best have strong bodies from years of training and practicing their technique.

Transformation of your mood

Nowadays, many kids and adults that suffer from anxiety and depression look to substance abuse as a vice in order to escape their dark thoughts. Although those vices may feel good at the moment, over a long period, drugs, alcohol, video games, and T.V will never make you feel whole. Jiu-Jitsu is a sport that makes you proud of who you are. It surrounds you with a good community of people who will care and listen to your problems. Sports like BJJ are incredibly healthy vices that will benefit your mood in incredible ways.

Tips for Beginning Jiu-Jitsu

Learn to Survive, Don’t Quit In the First Month

The sport of Jiu-Jitsu requires consistency and dedication. The learning curve of BJJ is tough. Sometimes it you can get it caught under your neck or twisting your arm. But continue to pursue this path through its trial and tribulations and you will be rewarded not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

Arrive early if you are signing up before class

Similar to a job interview, you want to make a good impression when entering your new gm. Keep in mind, these are the people you are going to be hanging around for hours every week. Arriving early to get signed up is a common courtesy and shows that you are excited and prepared to train!

What to expect the day after your first BJJ class

When you wake up the day after your first BJJ class, it is likely that your whole body is going to be sore. Unlike conventional bodybuilding, Jiu-Jitsu is a whole-body exercise that tests not only your physical strength but your stamina as well.

What Should You Expect After Your First Month of BJJ Training?

After training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for over a month, you should begin to see increases in your strength and stamina along with your mental attitude. After you get over the learning curve that comes with beginning a new sport, BJJ becomes an exciting game to test your wits and physicality.

Jiu-Jitsu is an incredibly unique sport filled with generations of techniques to learn. Have fun and enjoy the process, remember to be safe and enjoy the journey.

Happy Rolling!

FAQ

I’m 13. Is it too early to start BJJ?

You are never too young to start BJJ! Most of the highest-level athletes start at a young age such as yours.

Is BJJ Twice A Week Enough to Make Good Progress?

It depends on your goals. If you are looking to go to practice to lose weight and learn something new, you will most likely make good progress by going two days a week. If you are planning on being a competitive athlete, consider getting in the dojo more than a couple of times a week.

What Is The Best Way to Practice BJJ if You’re Over 50?

Take it easy and soak in information. Don’t try to keep up with the young athletes that are competing around the world. Practice at a pace your body can handle. Drill and train often but make sure to take time off to recover and rest.

Can I Start in my 30s?

As stated previously, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone at any age! It doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 65, any age is able to come in the room and start grappling. With that being said, make sure that you are aware of your body’s physical capabilities. Start off slow and don’t overdue anything!

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