Here’s What to Expect at Your First BJJ Class

You’re checking out your very first BJJ class, and that’s so awesome. But if you haven’t already toured the facility or meet the instructors, you may be wondering what exactly you’re in for. While things vary somewhat depending on where exactly you go, we’re hitting the highlights of what to expect at your first BJJ class.

Before You Leave the House

A little personal housekeeping is never a mistake before rolling. Your partners will appreciate it, so take the time to clean yourself up if you can. A full shower is ideal, but even a quick scrub at the sink will do the trick. A quick swipe of deodorant and some mouthwash, and you’re good to go.

Get There Early

As the new kid, make a point of showing up early. If you haven’t already signed waivers or a membership form or whatever your specific gym requires, you’ll need to sort out those details. Showing up early also gives you a chance to get the general lay of the land and introduce yourself to other people in class. This sort of interaction ahead of time can be really insightful, and you’ll probably find that you feel a little calmer and more collected before things really get rolling (pun intended!).

Dress the Part

If you already have your gi, go ahead and wear it to class. A lot of people show up in their gi pants, flip flops, and whatever slim-fitting top they’re wearing beneath their gi top, and then put their gi top on before class begins. There aren’t really any hard and fast rules, but a good rule of thumb is to check with your gym ahead of time.

Note that you won’t be wearing your flip flops (or any shoes) on the mat. It’s a hygiene thing — removing shoes helps keep bacteria from entering the same space you’ll be rolling around. Wrestling shoes may be an exception here, but individual gyms will have their own guidance.

What to Expect in the Average BJJ Class

Again, details will vary from class to class and gym to gym, but the thousand-mile view is generally as follows — warm up, technique and drilling, live rolling. After class, there may or may not be some open mat time for more rolling or stretching and cooling down.

Warm ups can be highly structured or more of a DIY thing, and in some cases, the class focus of the day might be reflected in the warm up. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing here. Follow the lead of the class, and if the warm up is entirely unstructured, just follow what’s happening around you.

Technique and drilling is the part of class in which your instructor demonstrates specific movements, with the class circle around to observe. Usually, this is a step-by-step demonstration with a partner, and there’s a lot of detailed instruction and repetition so everyone understands what’s happening and how to replicate it themselves. Again, it’s okay if you don’t have much of an idea of what’s going on. Since you’re the new kid, your instructor will already have an eye on you to make sure you’re not too lost. After the demo, you’ll pair off for drilling, which gives you a chance to practice the cool stuff your instructor just showed you. This is slow and methodical, giving you a chance to puzzle through the movements with a willing partner, who can also help you out.

During the live rolling part of class, the focus shifts from the technique of the day to more general rolling. Partners use their experience and skills in pursuit of a submission. As the new kid, you have nothing more than enthusiasm here, and that’s fine. Instead of technique, you’ll be relying on strength and endurance, so prepare to be exhausted (and likely exhilarated) at the end of class. Remember, this is day one. Nothing gets easier — you just get better, which means there’s a lot to look forward to!

If another class is waiting on yours to finish, you’ll need to clear out when class is over. If not, your instructor may advise you and your classmates to stretch and cool down or announce that mats are open. In that case, you may notice people pairing up to keep rolling. This is a good opportunity to observe, or speak with your instructor or classmates.

You’ll probably be ready for a shower and good meal, so get on with that. Make sure to wash your gi, too. And that’s your first BJJ class in a nutshell! If you’re still in the exploring-BJJ-schools stage, we hope you’ll consider Guerrilla BJJ here in Reno. Our new home is in the final stages of being built out, so we’re in a temporary location for now, but our philosophy and instructors are constant, and we’d love to answer all of your questions so you can decide if Guerrilla is a good fit for you. Contact us today.

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