Walking in the door of a BJJ academy is can be intimidating. I know plenty of students who confessed that they felt they had to lose weight, quit smoking and get in better shape BEFORE starting. The matter of fact is that beginning in BJJ is difficult, like starting most new activities, but start where you are and you will get amazing results. We try to make it as easy as we can with introductory lessons and beginner classes, but here are some extra tips to make your Beginner BJJ classes the best they can be.
Beginner BJJ Tip 1: Develop a Routine
Set yourself up for a weekly routine in BJJ to make those first days the easiest. Splitting your days so that you have a rest day in between is even better still. So we recommend a Monday, Wednesday, Saturday or Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday schedule. And starting with 2 days a week and ramping up slowly to 3 days a week. We also recommend having a trigger like packing your gi uniform in the car so that you know you will be able to go right from work or home.
Beginner BJJ Tip 2: Learn Names
We here at Jubera Jiu-Jitsu encourage our students to circle up before class to stretch and hang out before class. This gives them an opportunity to learn names, faces and take a genuine interest in another person. You will feel more comfortable asking to partner with someone for class if you have talked to them before. They will probably go more out of their way help you along in your journey rather than if you stretch by yourself before class.
Beginner BJJ Tip 3: Ask Questions
I always believed in asking one question a week. And if you don’t like the answer you got, then ask another coach until something clicks with you. Luckily I had 2 amazing coaches in Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. I remember people being too afraid of asking them questions and would go out of their way to ask me a question when I was a lower belt when you had 2 Hall of Fame coaches right there. You don’t need to learn everything about Jiu-Jitsu in a week, but don’t be afraid to ask a question of your coaches.
Beginner BJJ Tip 4: Take a Note
Students ask all the time if they should be taking notes. I have done a lot of note taking over th years, but rarely would you go back through them all. They are hard to organize, etc. So I think the best bang for your buck is to take a note. One note. Just something that you learned about class. You can use a google doc on your phone. I use the google Keep app myself. Just jot down something about a technique or something that you learned from training or an answer to a question that you had.
Beginner BJJ Tip 5: Get on Top, Stay on Top
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is pretty unique in martial arts because it allows the smaller person to win from the bottom position. So the popularity of the guard has exploded. Of course you will learn to use the guard as a beginner, but priority as a beginner should be on avoiding the bottom position and getting on top as soon as possible. That mindset should be carry over into any possible self defense situation. My friends who are black belts and run police training academies preach the same thing to their officers. Those officers who have been in altercations say that have that phrase coursing through their minds when they are grappling with a suspect and it has saved lives. So take that tip to heart when training. Everything is easier when you are on top, you can dictate the pace and slow things down to where you can think through his human chess move.
Beginner BJJ Tip 5: On Your Side + T-Rex Arms
Every beginner gets tapped out a lot in BJJ. But you want to start working on your defense as soon as you can. That is why defense is the first chapter in Saulo’s Jiu-Jitsu University book. So you want to think about keeping your arms in close to your body (like a T-Rex dinosaur) and try to get on your side facing your opponent (really a 45 degree angle, but that is pretty hard to do when you have someone on top of you so “on your side” is close enough). By being on your side, almost like the edge of a snow board it is going to be easier to shrimp or hip escape. If you are flat on your back, you are limited to just bridging. Eventually you will learn to push with your arms called “framing”, but if you push while flat on your back you are exposing neck to chokes and your arms to armbars and the like. So if you are on your back (happens a lot) and in bad position (because you don’t have a good guard yet) then you want to be on your side and have t-rex arms.