How to prepare for your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class

The hardest step on any journey is often the first step, and the journey of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is no different. Think of how many people never take the first step of signing up to train. Making the commitment to train BJJ is the start of the journey toward personal growth and development through this beautiful martial art.

That being said, all journeys require planning. What follows is a plan for putting your best foot forward for the first step of your BJJ journey: your first Jiu Jitsu class. 

What to wear

Princeton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu hosts two categories of Jiu Jitsu classes: Gi and No Gi. 

What to wear for Gi Jiu Jitsu classes

The gi is the traditional martial arts uniform, popularized over centuries of Japanese martial arts tradition. The Jiu Jitsu gi is made of sturdier fabric than most martial arts gis so it can withstand the stress and strain of grips inherent to grappling.

If you already own a gi and your first class is a gi class, then you’re all set. We have no rules about colors or materials. We only ask that your gi is clean.

If you do not own a gi, you can rent one from us for $20 for the duration of your free trial. If you decide to sign up, we’ll deduct $20 from your first month of membership dues.

You should wear a tight-fitting shirt or rashguard underneath your gi top to defend against scrapes, cuts, and infections. You should also wear appropriate athletic undergarments (no thongs). And please remove all makeup prior to training so as not to stain other people’s gis or our mats.

What to wear for No Gi Jiu Jitsu classes

For no gi Jiu Jitsu classes, please wear a rashguard or tight-fitting shirt and shorts, preferably without pockets. Board shorts are a great option because they do not have elastic waistbands. Some people will also take the added step of wearing spats or leggings, which can be worn under the gi as well, to provide additional skin protection.

Form-fitting apparel is best for no gi jiu jitsu to prevent injuries to fingers and toes.

The same guidance applies for undergarments. Wear appropriate athletic undergarments (no thongs). And please remove all makeup prior to training so as not to stain other people’s clothing or our mats.

Jiu Jitsu hygiene

Jiu Jitsu involves a lot of close personal contact. If you feel sick, do not come to class. We are happy to reschedule your trial lesson when you’re feeling better.

Good hygiene is essential for protecting yourself and your training partners from scrapes, cuts, and infections. Come to class clean, wearing deodorant, and with freshly brushed teeth, if possible. Please avoid wearing makeup to class as the residue can stain uniforms. Make sure your nails are cut short, with no white part visible at the tip, and filed. Taking the extra step of filing your nails removes the ruff edge that clippers leave behind.

RELATED: Don’t be the smelly kid: Your complete guide to BJJ hygiene 

Finally, bring a pair of flip flops to class. Wear these whenever you aren’t on the mats. Never go barefoot anywhere except the mats. Never go barefoot especially when using the bathroom and locker rooms.

Come hydrated and stay hydrated

Even on the coldest days, BJJ grapplers sweat a lot and consequently lose a lot of fluid and electrolytes. Proper hydration starts hours before training – ideally first thing in the morning.

The day of your first class, start hydrating early by drinking water throughout your day. And be sure to bring some water to class. Many of our students also add electrolytes to their water during and after training to avoid cramping and to promote rehydration after class.

Be 15-20 minutes early for your first Jiu Jitsu class

Show up 15-20 minutes early for your first Jiu Jitsu class. This will give us ample time to fit you for a gi (if necessary), show you how to wear it, and give you a tour of our school as well as introduce you to our instructors. 

We want your first experience training with us to be a positive one and having a little bit of extra time goes a long way.

Try to relax, have fun, and have an open mind for your first Jiu Jitsu class

For most first-time athletes – and even for seasoned athletes – BJJ is like nothing else they have ever done. Furthermore, most adults are not used to struggling. They’ve grown accustomed to seeing success in their areas of expertise.

Nearly everyone struggles mightily in their first few days, weeks, months, and even years of Jiu Jitsu. This is normal and part of the growth process. The more you mentally prepare yourself for this, the more fun and transformative your training will be.

Know that everyone – from the instructors to your fellow students – wants you to succeed. Know that they have all been where you are. And know that we’ll all be here to support you every step of the way.

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