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How to begin: a guide for BJJ white belts

BJJ, SJJA, Grappling, Guard, Rolling

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an amazing martial art that can teach anyone to how to use leverage to defeat opponents larger than us, but in your first few weeks BJJ might seem larger than you. Learning anything new can be a challenge, and there’s more to BJJ than jumping on the mats and pulling your first closed guard. Maybe you are new to BJJ or have been wanting to start for a while, or maybe you’ve just started and trying to get your head around this phenomenon they call ‘body chess’. Wherever you’re at with BJJ, here are few pointers for surviving and thriving at the beginning of your BJJ obsession.

You’re a Jiu jitsu student

Fact of the matter is when you first start grappling you’re going to have a lot of new information in your head. You will flail, you will make mistakes, you will forget what you’re doing and there will be moments when you waiver in your commitment. Accept this straight off the bat.

Takes notes. Don’t be embarrassed to be a keen student. It’s a lot of information to remember at the start so bring a note-book and scribble down instructions, new ideas and things to look up later.

Learning a new discipline is going to take time, so embrace the process and give yourself the time. It is important that you learn to feel good about your less than perfect sessions because it’s all part of the journey.

BJJ, SJJA, Grappling, Guard, Rolling

Come ready to learn.

Before You Are On the Mats

Wash. It might sound basic, but making sure that you and your clothing is clean is a non-negotiable. Not just for yourself, but for everyone in the gym!

Earrings can be covered with tape, but all other jewellery should be removed for everyone’s safety.

If you’re coming to BJJ with long hair it is worth considering your hair options. While a classic pony-tail might seem like a no-brainer, think about how much time you’re going to spend on your back. Maybe opt for some braids or a style that divides your hair away from the back of your head.

Learn How To Tie Your Belt. It’ll take a few goes but you’ll get the hang of it. Higher belts will also be happy to show you how.

…Straight After The Mats

Shower after. You sweated more than you think. What a feeling!

Grappling, BJJ, Roll, SJJA, guard

Hygiene is important in a contact sport.

BJJ Training Partner Etiquette

While being the best practitioner on the mats might not happen for a little while, being a good training partner is definitely within your grasp:

  1. Keep it safe and fun.
  2. Keep focused and know what you’re trying to do.
  3. Respect higher belts and appreciate their guidance.
  4. Don’t use strength on smaller opponents.
  5. Treat everyone with respect.

Grappling as a Beginner

Tap out early. There’s no reason to be a hero and wear yourself out. So, you tried something and it didn’t work out like you thought it would? Or you got caught by surprise? Tap out. There’s no shame in submissions.

Be prepared to partner with people in different belt grades. If they are less experienced or smaller than you resist the urge to destroy them – instead, look to improve parts of your form that are weaker. Keep yourself challenged. On the flip side, if you’re the rookie then more skilled training partners should be able to ensure the safety of the grapple while you give it your all.

Now that you know how best to begin… it’s time to step onto the mats. SJJA Fundamentals program does not require any prior martial arts experience and is suitable for all shapes, genders, ages, and fitness levels. Plus, the first class is free!

See you on the mats.

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