5 Tips for Beginners Starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
1. Have fun.
Jiu Jitsu can be a very difficult sport to learn when you are just beginning. It takes a great deal of time before you start to feel comfortable in some of the most common positions. Don’t be discouraged. The majority of people who walk through the door and step on the mat are looking to get in shape and have fun, so don’t lose sight of your initial goal. Trust the process. Over time, these positions and techniques will become second nature and you will notice that your coordination, flexibility, strength and stamina have all improved with continued training. Your instructor and teammates are all there to help you so if you ever have any questions, never hesitate to ask!
2. Show up.
Showing up regularly is one of the most important attributes of any successful BJJ practitioner. People who show up regularly, whether it be Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays etc but stick to their routine no matter what are often the most successful in quickly developing their skills and seeing improvements. I, often, will see students get excited and do 5 classes in a row in their first week then take the next two weeks off to recover and then do 3 classes when they return and take a few more weeks off to recover until they never really return. Consistency is key. Some days you will feel tired and other days you will feel great but it is important to show up on both of those days because you will leave feeling awesome!
3. Take notes.
At the beginning, you might feel overwhelmed or just confused with some of the terminology or the techniques shown in class, so take some time and jot down a few notes. If a particular technique really worked for you, write it down so you can practice it before the next class. You might have also enjoyed a particular exercise in the warm up or a drill that you could do at home. Anything that will help you to get more repetitions or practice is always a good thing. Taking notes will help you visualize the movements, positions and techniques that were covered in the class.
Relax. Watch some videos of some World Championship matches. You will see that they are NOT flexing their entire body for the duration of the match. They are calm and explode at certain points, when they have specific grips and the timing is right. Often, beginners flex absolutely every muscle in their body for an entire drill or roll. Try to set goals like working a specific sweep one night. If you hit the sweep and you are now on top, you can relax and it doesn’t even matter if your partner reverses the position and you are back on the bottom because it gives you another opportunity to work that particular sweep again.
The struggle is real. You are new to the school. Everyone has more experience than you. They know more techniques than you. You might be able to out-power some of the students for a while but you will get put in some bad positions and you will get submitted. Tap. In fact, if more experienced students see you going crazy hard with someone new and small, they probably feel like it is their duty to show you that Jiu Jitsu works. Treat your teammates just as they are….your training partners. You need them and they need you. We are all people and we can all get hurt. Use control. You will find tapping is the best way to prevent injury and it really is no big deal. When you are caught in a submission and you tap, you are really just telling your partner “hey man, nice move!” and you start again. There is no ego or tally of how many times people are tapping each other out. Just have fun. Tap if you feel like something might hurt. You might not know what an “omoplata” is but if you ever don’t feel comfortable, just tap and restart. It is no big deal. Nobody is hurt and you are back training soon!