If you’ve already attended a few sessions of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you’ll already know there’s a lot to learn and a lot more to this sport than you ever considered. For those who have had no other martial arts training, surviving the beginner phase of BJJ is even more difficult. I like to give tips and advice to newbies to the sport that can help them transition in easier. Here in Tempe, AZ, I’m proud to say our gym is welcoming, but it’s not always that way everywhere else. Those new to the sport are often politely avoided, with the more experienced students hoping to practice with others who have even more experience than themselves. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone along the way. You aren’t a social pariah forever.
Expect to be exhausted after class.
Not only will you be totally confused at first, your body will take a beating from the intense workout. You may think you’re in great shape, but you’ll be amazed at how much BJJ taps into your energy reserves and before you know it, you’ll be both stressed and exhausted, trying to catch your breath, regain your strength and understand what’s going on in the session. Be prepared to be submitted frequently.
Stick with it.
Never give up. Instead, work harder. You may not go to class every day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do things to help you get into shape faster. On those days away from the gym, make sure you get some exercise, but not brutal exercise like BJJ. Keep it light, walk, take a casual bike ride, do yoga or stretching exercises. Your body needs a day of rest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some light exercise to keep the blood flowing and help speed recovery. Take it easy, but don’t come to a halt.
Pay attention to the moves, practice and remain mentally calm.
It’s hard when you’re on the mat to remain mentally calm and focus on each move and countermove, but it’s vital. BJJ is a sport where size doesn’t count, but mental acuity, anticipation of the other person’s moves and a cool head to visualize how to find the other person’s weakness and turn the tables is what wins matches. Thinking yourself to success is as key as strength and endurance. Shut off the fear and turn on the cunning.
- Always maintain good hygiene. Seriously, nobody wants a smelly partner. Wash your gi after each practice. Keep hair tied back if its long and nails groomed. Don’t forget deodorant, brushing your teeth and breath mints.
- Know that you’ll be able to achieve the next level with perseverance. Often people that are dedicated but start out further behind others, turn out to be the best at this sport because they have heart and persevere.
- No matter how much you think you know, you don’t. Listen at first and don’t interject any knowledge you just gained from watching YouTube or reading an article. Unsolicited advice from a beginner is just plain rude.
- Stay focused on the basics. Learn the basics well and don’t try to get ahead of yourself. The basic moves are like the letters of the alphabet that eventually turn into words, then into a story.