What To Bring To Your First Jiu-Jitsu Class

Congratulations on making the big first step to try jiu-jitsu! Whether you’re getting started for self-defense, the pursuit of an MMA career, to get in shape, or just because your Facebook friends won’t stop ranting about how great it is, showing up for your first class is the beginning of your journey to black belt.

Like any new experience, though, there comes the fear of showing up totally unprepared. For your first BJJ class (and every one thereafter!), make sure you bring these things to make your experience better:

1. The right clothing
Most jiu-jitsu gyms won’t expect you to rock up in a new gi and official jiu-jitsu gear, but you also don’t want to be That Person who shows up to roll in jeans (which, yes, has happened before). For your first class, a relatively tight, breathable shirt (ideally a rashguard, but Under Armour-ish material can also be great) is good for your top half, while athletic shorts or thick activewear leggings (or both!) will do for your bottom half. Avoid clothing that fits too loosely or has holes or pockets that could trap fingers and toes, and make sure your bottoms aren’t see-through or likely to ride up and reveal anything important. Your shirt may also get pulled down, so if you’re worried about having your chest exposed, wear a top with a higher neckline. If your first class is a gi class, ask the gym if there’s a loaner gi you can borrow; otherwise you’ll probably be allowed to do the class without one.

2. A water bottle
You will sweat, and you will get thirsty. Make sure you have a full water bottle or other source of hydration with you when you show up to train. Your body needs water to run efficiently, and you’ll feel better and more energetic if you can take a drink during or after class.

3. Flip-flops
Shoes or dirty feet on the mats are a big “nope” in jiu-jitsu. Skin conditions like ringworm and staph are notorious for spreading quickly and causing health problems for BJJ athletes, and you won’t make a great impression if you run off the mat in bare feet to grab a drink and then come back on to train. Rather than stepping on the backs of your work shoes or going through the hassle of putting your sneakers back on just for a thirty-second venture off the mats, bring a pair of flip flops that you can leave on the side of the mat and slip on and off with ease.

4. A mouthguard (if possible)
If you don’t have a mouthguard during your very first class, you’ll probably be fine as long as you take it easy. But if you decide you want to keep going, you’ll definitely need to invest in one. Jiu-jitsu is a contact sport, and that means your teammates’ elbows, knees, and head will likely make contact with your face at some point. A mouthguard is far cheaper than a trip to the dentist, and if you have one from the start, you should take advantage of it.

5. A positive mindset
I know, I know — it’s a bit corny. Jiu-jitsu is hard, though! You’re going into a sport where everyone there will probably know more than you about choking people and breaking limbs, and that can be intimidating. Walking into your first class with a mindset that accepts that it will be difficult and tells you that you will get better if you keep coming back. It’s easy to throw in the towel on the first day, say that it “wasn’t for you,” and never return. But walking in with a good attitude is the first step to developing great jiu-jitsu skills.


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