The middle of a BJJ grappling technique movement

Starting BJJ: What To Expect At Your First Jiu-Jitsu Class

If you have never trained in BJJ, your first class could turn into a nightmare. I am deadass, this is not a joke! The first Brazilian jiu jitsu class is all about rolling, shrimping, transitioning on the canvas, and you’ll have to get yourself ready. I’m kindly advising you to do some internet research, social media are available to everybody nowadays.

Even blue belt level demands dedication. Your brain might hurt in your first class, especially if your head instructor bombs you with new pieces of info. The new students usually need a month or two to get into the spirit of things.

Starting a new martial art can be intimidating, but having the right gear can make a world of difference. Make sure to read our latest article on the Best BJJ Gi Brands for 2023. These brands offer not only the highest quality of gis but also come in a variety of styles and colors to suit your personality.

Relax and prepare mentally for your first BJJ class. We will guide you through basic BJJ positions, mandatory pieces of equipment, and all kinds of small things that will help you to stay calm and steady in your first Brazilian jiu jitsu class. Just don’t panic and you’ll be fine! 😉

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

 The first class should contain basic positions on the mat. You can’t learn a submission switch overnight, it takes time.

The video below shows the moves you will probably learn in your first Brazilian jiu jitsu classes, plus there will be shrimps, rolls, and probably a bit of calisthenics. Now let’s describe the popular basic techniques for a new student without previous experience.

Note: the same rule counts for both gi and no gi classes since we’re discussing a BJJ beginner, a BJJ white belt who has never competed before.

Let’s focus on the six basic techniques (positions) that will probably be shown to you by the head instructor in your first Brazilian jiu jitsu session.

  • Open guard – your sparring partner is on his knees, while you lay on your back with your knees around his hips.

  • Closed guard – you are on your back, and your legs are wrapped around the partner’s spine, at the level of his belly.

  • Butterfly guard – put your shins on the inside of your opponent’s adductors off your back;

  • Side control – the opponent is on his back, you are on the side with your forearm under his neck, and your chest is creating pressure on his midsection.

  • Mount – the partner is on his back, you are on top of him, and your knees are above the level of his hips.

  • Back mount – in most gyms, you don’t learn this is your first BJJ lesson, but some BJJ instructors might go ahead of their time. The opponent is in a turtle position, while you hop on top of him and place both hooks in, controlling him with your legs and arms (on his gi).

You probably won’t work on guard techniques in your first BJJ no gi or gi classes, unless you come from a grappling background. But then you’re not a BJJ beginner, are you?

Is Jiu-Jitsu Hard For Beginners?

It depends on your previous training experience. If you come from a grappling martial art, like Judo, you shouldn’t have a hard time rolling on the mats. But strikers find it very tricky to master, as BJJ practitioners are masters of the ground game, and hitting the opponent is strictly prohibited.

If you have no fighting experience at all, then your BJJ training is going to be very hard in the first few months. You must learn basic techniques, positions, sweeps, and transitions, and you must get along with your training partners. This might be pretty stressful, as working with a terrible teammate leads to poor technique and slows your progress down.

You might have a hard time mastering the turtle position, open guard, or triangle choke if you have never fought before.

Wearing flip flops is a shock for someone who wears shorts his whole life. So yes, it is a massive change and you might have a hard time getting used to it. But this is the beginning of your Brazilian jiu jitsu voyage, please focus on your progress, and don’t despair!

Can I Learn BJJ As An Adult?

Yes, but you will have to deal with two problems. First, you didn’t target your sensitive periods for flexibility, which means you might lack hip mobility. Second, you have less time to progress than a 7-year-old hungry kid, but that’s not the red flag.

Just focus on your progress, think about rolling, scrambles, position changes, and submission switches before you go to sleep and your Brazilian jiu jitsu skills will improve!

There are many adult Brazilian jiu jitsu beginners but some of them touch the sky and score high-level results in competitions. For example, legendary coach John Danaher started with a Brazilian jiu jitsu voyage in his 20s, and nowadays he is one of the best head instructors in the world!

Jiu jitsu is a technical martial art, it demands your time and thinking – advanced students progress slower than beginners because young lions are hungrier!

What’s the average BJJ class like?

In some BJJ gyms, the first thing before stepping on the mats is bowing. The jiu jitsu class is divided into four parts, and we’ll discuss all of them:

  • Warm-ups (10 – 15 minutes). Some instructors prefer light drills to increase the temperature of your body, while others stick to heavy-duty conditioning sessions in the first few minutes of the practice.The majority of coaches will focus on stretching exercises, running laps, and basic drills like push-ups or sit-ups. But the instructor with a greater level of experience will probably focus on calf and upper body shoulder stretches (mostly routine for advanced belts) too, as it is so easy to hurt these muscle groups during rolls and transitions.

  • Technique and drilling (30 – 40 minutes). You’ll probably start with hip bridges, shrimps, bridges, and backward and forward rolls in your first BJJ session.You might also add all-four walks or some other ground drills, like, for example, an alligator walk.

  • Sparring (15 – 30 minutes). When you finish with the basic part, the next part of your training session starts with sparring drills. Don’t get me wrong, this is not “a real spar”, you will probably try the basic positions out with your instructor and partner.Of course, you’ll try it out with a white belt first, don’t get demoralized if you cannot fulfill the form early on. There will be more than one common mistake, don’t expect to do everything right in a few minutes. 🙂

  • Cool down (5 – 10 minutes). This part of the training session depends on the instructor. Somebody will say to run light circles and stretch, others will order you a light grappling session at the end of the day, where you might try to attempt some of the moves you learned. But approach number two is rare, coaches mostly pick option one.

Good Practices For Your First Jiu-Jitsu Class

First of all, there are some rules you must follow in your first Brazilian jiu jitsu lesson. Get yourself ready to think of proper hygiene and buy solid pieces of clothing.

Nobody forces you to wear a gi in your first martial arts lesson, but a good choice of clothes will help you progress faster in your jiu jitsu lessons.

Rules About Wearing

Rule number one, you mustn’t wear shoes in your BJJ class, this is not wrestling. You won’t be able to shrimp or slide down the mat, even with the special piece of shoes.

The most common mistake in the first BJJ class is not wearing sweatpants, because you might end up with tons of bruises or tears.

I mean, a rash guard is the most perfect solution, but you can’t say it is mandatory in the first BJJ session. Take an old t-shirt with you if you’re visiting a no Gi session.

However, it’s always better to be prepared, so check out our article to know which are the Best BJJ Rash Guards.

Can you wear flip flops in your first jiu-jitsu lesson? I know this is a huge investment for BJJ beginners, but if you answer with “yes”, that is awesome!

You should wear a towel as you’ll probably sweat a lot when you roll or shrimp. Controlling techniques are hard, especially for someone who has never taken part in a bout before. I suggest you pack everything you need into a gym bag.


It is a contact sport, so it is important to prevent injuries. You must pay attention to the following tiny things before your first BJJ workout:

  • Finger and toenails must be well-groomed, as you could hurt your opponent or training partner;

  • Ponytail for long hair, you might end up with a gruesome injury during rolls, sweeps, or transitions;

  • No piercings or earrings, it is too risky – take them off before the beginning of the BJJ session. This is a contact sport, don’t gamble with your health!

How Long Does It Take To Learn BJJ?

Well, it depends on your previous grappling experience. You might learn BJJ in six to ten months when you come from grappling martial arts. The majority of competitors get their blue belt in six months to two years, even if they have never competed before.

But let’s assume you have never participated in a Brazilian jiu jitsu training session in your life. You will have to boost your guard skills in the first few months of your BJJ voyage. Then you must learn different positions. Your brain must process how to make a transition, control, or sweep your opponent. No gi aspect of the game is a bit harder to master, as you can’t grab your opponent’s gi.

But let’s make a recap. You’ll need at least six months to reach a BJJ blue belt, and at least 5 years to become the black belt (of course, you can do it faster if you’re a super-talented boy like Marcelo Garcia or a wunderkind from the block like the famous MMA coach Lloyd Irvin, who earned his black belt in just 3.5 years).

How Often Should A Beginner Train BJJ?

It depends on your work schedule, but three times per week should be ok for the beginning of your Brazilian jiu jitsu run. You can’t progress quickly with one or two sessions per week, but three-plus training sessions per week will skyrocket your skills.

Would you like to learn self defense techniques or train to improve your basic skillset? Then I can accept one or two sessions in a week.

But even self defense demands dedication, and you must learn to pull a guard or shoot in for a takedown attempt. Three times per week would be great, but you choose. 🙂

Of course, a fanatic blue belt can train every single day, that’s the case of Lloyd Irvin. His supreme level of dedication secured him the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt in such a short period. The guy mastered all kinds of techniques and submission switches in such a short time!

Is BJJ a way of life for you? If your answer to this question is “yes”, then you should train it every single day (make a rest on Sunday if possible), or even two times per day. Maybe you’re destined to become a new jiu jitsu superstar, anything is possible, don’t lose hope!

How To Find A Good BJJ Gym

Internet is available to everybody nowadays. Find a phone number, call a dojo, or contact them on social media. If you can get in touch with the gym owner, it might be the best solution. Some dojos even offer self-defense or advanced classes, but you can discuss it on the phone.

Check the look of the gym, and watch one BJJ session. One no gi or gi class and you’ll see whether you enjoy the surroundings or not.

Pay attention to the instructor, and don’t feel lost during grappling class. If there is a lesson for white belts, I suggest you take a closer look and see how you feel. Too many students in the training mean the dojo is stacked, so it might not be a great choice for your kid.

Please pay attention to hygiene in the gym. If you see dirty ground or mat, it might lead to potential bacterial infections.

You want the best for your kid, this is an extremely important skill for a good BJJ dojo. This is non-negotiable, poor cleaning increase the risk of infections and diseases, don’t gamble with the health of your kid.

Brazilian jiu jitsu is one of the most complex martial arts in the world, you’ll spend 95% of your time rolling on the ground.

And the final rule is don’t focus on one gym, check other gyms too. If you live in a big city, there should be many high-level jiu jitsu dojos nearby. 🙂

The Average Cost Of The BJJ Classes

The cost depends on your state, you should discuss it with the dojo or ask them on the phone. But you’ll hardly train in a good BJJ dojo for less than 50 bucks per month, even in cheaper states. The hall costs, just like electricity and the equipment.

Group sessions should vary between 50-200 dollars, while an individual Brazilian jiu jitsu session could go up to 70 bucks. You must discuss it with your


Many young lions are hungry and they want to participate in the tournaments ASAP, but in BJJ, it simply doesn’t go that way.

There are competitors in all kinds of weight and skill classes. But a coach shouldn’t throw his students to the fire early on, it could affect them negatively, especially if they lose to a very skillful, experienced opponent.

You should learn some techniques in the first place. Unless you come from a grappling background, wait for at least six months to get your blue belt.

Guard and control are very important, BJJ is not about power, it’s about a top-notch individual skill and the ability to outwork your opponent with techniques and the power of your brain. A stronger fighter probably wins in a street fight, but in BJJ, skill matters way more.

My suggestion is to check your skill level before you decide to fight. Then, the next piece of advice, if you’re a blue belt, don’t compete with black belts, score a few wins in your class first. Too many losses might demoralize you and put a halt on your career.

I mean, there are Ruotolo brothers all around the globe, but are you one of them? Are you the top-notch young gun and the potential world champion? Please think about it before you participate in your first fight. Build your career on the mat gradually, Rome was not built in a day! 🙂

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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