Everything is hard at the beginning. It is just not that easy to learn new things. It is no different with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. When you are BJJ beginner you may have some hard time training. People just starting out don’t know what’s going on yet, don’t know the techniques or how to roll safely and properly. So if you are just starting your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey, below you will find BJJ for beginners guide.
You could start your adventure with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in different ways. Maybe someone brought you to training or it was the only martial arts class in your area. So there is a good chance that at the beginning of your training, your knowledge about BJJ is quite incomplete. That’s why you will find basic information about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu below.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling orientated martial art/combat sport that was created around 1920 year in Brazil. The roots of this sport go back to Japan and jiu jitsu and judo. Over the years, this discipline has evolved to look like today. BJJ has gained its popularity thanks to competitors fighting in the early UFC’s such as Royce Gracie. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s effectiveness in MMA caught the world’s interest in this discipline. Since then the sport is constantly growing. You can read more about the history of BJJ here.
If you already BJJ beginner you probably know it can be practiced in a Gi or No Gi. And depending on what you have chosen, you need some other equipment. You probably already have something to train in, but usually, it’s quite unprofessional at first. You train in some old t-shirts, judo gi you received after someone, etc. However, if you thinking about training seriously, want to practice a few times per week, etc it is good to get professional gear. When you train No Gi it’s good to buy rashguards, spats, and shorts. When it comes to BJJ in gis as the name suggests you need gi. A well-chosen gi really increases the quality of training. How to choose it, what are the best gi brands etc. you can read here.
Gi training is of course associated with having a belt. The belt not only serves to keep your gi jacket in one place but also has symbolic significance. It is a representation of your experience. As in most martial arts, you start with a white belt. Then in order, they are a blue, purple, brown and black belt. As a BJJ beginner, you need to know the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt system is a bit more restrictive than in other martial arts. It often takes even 10 years to get a black belt. Moreover, each belt color has its special characteristics that determine its owner skill level and approach to BJJ. You can read more about it here.
Now when you got all necessary gear it’s time to have a closer look at how exactly the training goes. It, of course, can vary depending on where you train. However, some elements of training are common to all academies. First of all, there are always warm-ups. It usually involves a bit of running, doing some rolls, exercises for warming the hips, neck, etc. Then there is the main part, during which the trainer shows techniques and then you try it out with your training partner. At the end of the training, you can try it all while sparring. All you need to know about it you can read here.
Besides in some academies, there is also a line-up at the end of the training. During the line-up, people are standing ordered by belts. At one end white belts at the other black. Within a belt color, a number of stripes determine your spot in the line. During this setting, the trainer says a few words to you or you just thank each other for training. In some clubs, you also do line-up for order at the begging of practice.
Positions and techniques
In a nutshell, there are four primary goals in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:
- Take your opponent down or pull them down into your guard
- Pass your opponent’s guard or sweep your opponent
- Get into a dominant position
- Submit your opponent
To achieve it you must know that in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are several positions that you should master. These positions are full guard, half-guard, side control, mount and back control. For more info about them click here. And when it comes to positions, you can’t forget about grips. They give you control and allow you to maintain your position. To understand their importance and to know their varieties click here.
The next most important thing in your BJJ practice are finishing techniques. At the beginning of your adventure with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you probably won’t be able to tap out anyone. However, it is still good to know more about submissions. Not even to use them but to be able to defend against them. At first, it’s good to learn for example armbar, triangle, and rear-naked choke.
In BJJ there are also takedowns and sweeps. For more info about how to take your opponent down click here. And if you are more interested in sweeping other people click here. The above-mentioned things, however, are just a part of what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu offers. If you want to learn more techniques don’t forget to check our BJJ techniques section! On the other hand, if so many techniques overwhelm you check these 10 basic techniques to improve your BJJ game.
Once you know the structure of practice, you are kinda familiar with techniques, you got rashguard, proper gi, etc. you think that nothing else can surprise you in training. And then someone suddenly tells you e.g. OSS. If you are BJJ beginner and have never heard it before, read here what does it mean. If you want to be even better prepared for unexpected sayings and signs, check what shaka sign is right away. Its origin and meaning you will find here.
Organizations and tournaments
Once you know what BJJ training is exactly about it’s good to know something about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world on a more global level. It’s mostly about the competitions you can take part in and their organizers. If you are thinking about competing in the future at all, you must know IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation), UAEJJF (United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation), ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club). Those are just the biggest BJJ federations out there. They set the rules and organize the most important competitions. If you want to compete it’s better to start at your local tournaments. However, if you aim high you can already check which competitions are the most important in the world. List of them you will find here.
Only before you start dreaming of a great competing career, first you need to know more about the rules and weight categories. You must know that fighting in BJJ is based not only on submissions but also on points for positions. For example, for a takedown, you will get two points, for passing your opponent’s guard three points. For more info about it click here. When it comes to weight categories you need to know that they differ depending on who is organizing the tournament. Here you can check which weight division you are in and what they are all about.
BJJ as a sport that is developing and constantly gaining popularity is also full of interesting personalities. If you want to participate in talks about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu it is simply worth associating some names. First of all, you have to associate the Gracie Family – famous Brazil martial arts family known for their contribution to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Now there is plenty of Gracies out there. However, in the beginning, it was just two brothers Carlos and Helio. Both of them contributed massively to what we know today as BJJ. You can say they are fathers of this sport, so it is just good to know at least their names.
When it comes to more modern times there are many great BJJ fighters. Sometimes it’s hard to remember them all. So it’s good to just know the people most often talked about. Due to their skills, ideas or controversy, these people are for example Gordon Ryan, Eddie Bravo or Rigan Machado.
Even if you are just a BJJ beginner, you already know different things about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, do not rest on your laurels and still listen to the advice of more experienced people. You can learn the most from them and your trainer. Below you will find also some useful tips for BJJ beginners.
Remember about hygiene
It might sound a bit obvious, but do not underestimate this advice. Unfortunately sometimes BJJs mat can be a breeding ground for various germs, skin diseases, etc. That’s why you should always remember about washing your hands and feet, taking a shower after practice, etc. So that you are not the source of germs always wear a fresh gi and No Gi gear. Don’t forget also wearing flip-flops while walking around the club not to transfer for example germs from the toilet to the mat. Moreover, remember also to keep your nails short, so you don’t scratch someone mid-roll.
Tapping is important
Unfortunately while practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu injuries may happen. Luckily there are different ways to avoid them. You can check them all here. Moreover, remember also about tapping. Remember this especially as a BJJ beginner. You don’t understand everything that is happening around you yet. So if you feel something is wrong tap immediately. Better be safe than sorry. You’ll often tap out too early, but that’s okay! You need to do so until you get a bit of time under your belt – after which you’ll be much more capable of gauging if you can prevent the tap for a bit longer. Also, tap loudly! This means that it’s good practice to tap with your hand (onto your training partner’s body, preferably) and simultaneously exclaim: „Tap!“ Sometimes, in the heat of battle, just physically tapping out might not be registered by your partners. So, to make sure that they don’t hurt you, make sure to say that you’re tapping as well.
At first, you may feel twofold. For some, the beginnings will be a time of constant development, learning something new from class to class. For other BJJ beginners, however, this may be total chaos. Regardless, just be patient and don’t worry. You are making progress, even if you can’t see it sometimes. Don’t be dissuaded by the journey – embrace it. And if you want to keep getting better constantly, the most important thing you can do is just to keep showing up. Train as often as you can, leave your ego at the door, and enjoy the process. Because in the end, it’s not about who is best, but who is left. Some may have natural talent and even if they have the same white belt as you will look at them with adoration. In the end, however, it doesn’t matter, perseverance counts, not more talent at the start.
Don’t limit yourself to BJJ
It might sound a bit strange for someone who just got really interested in BJJ. However, it’s just that other sports can be very useful for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. Just if you trained yoga or was going to the gym before, you don’t have to give it up for BJJ. Check rather why it will improve your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game here.
There is no single approach to BJJ
BJJ is no longer a niche sport. More and more people are training, the level is rising, it’s all becoming more and more professional. Not surprisingly, so that there was stratification in the approach of people to this sport. For some, it is just a hobby and they practice completely recreationally. For others, BJJ is a lifestyle and they devote all their time to it. You can even call them full-time athletes. So you must understand there is no universal approach to BJJ, you can just choose your own way.
Way of improving your BJJ as a beginner
As a BJJ beginner, you probably want to get better at it as fast as possible. There are several ways of doing it. First and most obvious, just train as much as you can, aks many questions to your trainer, spar a bit more after class, etc. But there are also other things you can do. Among others it is, reading books or watching instructional videos about BJJ. You can find all these ways of how to improve your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at home here.