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  • Writer's pictureStreet Sports Poulsbo Warrior Buddha

What to expect at your first Jiu-Jitsu class:

Starting is tough. Knowing what to expect can make it easier to start.

Pre-Class BJJ Hygiene

Ideally, you want to make sure you aren’t a sweaty, smelly mess before you even step on the mats. Whether it’s taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or simply reapplying deodorant, your teammates will thank you. That being said, sometimes you won’t have these options, and that’s fine too.


If possible, take a shower before class. Especially if you work in a labor-intensive job, you don’t want to show up for class covered in sweat, grime, and dirt. Even for those who work in an office, sometimes you just don’t smell good at the end of the day. If the gym doesn’t have a shower, but you could really use one, use the bathroom sink to wash your hands, arms, and face. While it may not be the ideal situation, it is still better than nothing, and your training partners will be glad you did it. Good news, we offer showers.


Whether or not you can shower before class, you can at least apply or reapply deodorant. Get in the habit of carrying an extra bar with you in your gym bag. That way, you aren’t relying on remembering to bring the bar of deodorant from your bathroom. Just don’t forget that some types of deodorant will melt in the heat, so keep that in mind if you leave your gym bag in the car while you’re at work on a hot day.


You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Are you serious?” Yes, dead serious. Most of your training partners likely aren’t brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash before they hop on the mats--but wouldn't it be nice if they did? By the end of class, you’re going to be panting and breathing hard right next to your training partner’s face. Do you really want to be self-conscious of that chili dog you had for lunch? Even if all you do is swish some mouthwash before class, it will help a lot.

Arrive Early to Your First BJJ Class

The most important thing for you to do on your first day is to show up early, check in with a staff member, explain that this is your first day, and let them lead the way from there.


Especially on your first day, arrive early so you can tour the facility, meet your instructor, and your teammates. Starting something new is uncomfortable, just stay calm, keep an open mind, and try to enjoy yourself.


Give yourself enough time to change before each class. It usually only takes a few minutes, but sometimes you may run into an issue, and it pays to have some extra time to deal with it. Maybe you forgot your belt, or maybe the drawstring on your Gi pants has fallen out again. Either way, make sure you give yourself enough time to comfortably change into your uniform and even chat a bit with your fellow students.


You may have been wondering why flip-flops were on the list of items to buy in preparation for your first day. The bottom line is this: when you aren’t wearing shoes, wear flip-flops--but never on the mats. Flip-flops allow you to quickly get on and off the mat if necessary without getting tied up in laces and socks. Keep a gym only pair handy to switch from street shoes to flip flops as you enter the facility to help keep the gym, especially the mats, as clean as possible.

Why you Should Wear Flip-Flops

Bacteria is commonly found on public restroom floors, all over the human body, and on the mats no matter how often they are deeply sanitized. Make sure you always wear your flip-flops in the restroom, bathroom, changing rooms, or anytime you are not on the mats. Maintaining proper oral hygiene and keeping yourself safe from infection will be a critical component to your success both on and off the mats.


As mentioned above, don’t wear your shoes or flip-flops on the mats. The purpose of removing shoes is to prevent bacteria from entering the gym. Similarly, the point of wearing flip-flops is to keep bacteria off of your feet when you walk around the bathroom, changing room, or other no-shoes-allowed areas of the gym. By removing shoes and flip-flops before stepping on the mats, you can ensure the health and safety of all students and staff.


Our gym offers three changing rooms, three bathrooms, and two showers that can be used to change into your uniform. During COVID-19 times we arequire all students to arrive at the gym in uniform. Please ask a staff member if you are unsure about the location of these amenities. For free trials we provide a gi uniform, free of cost. Please see a staff member to get your uniform fitted.


We offer cubbies to hold any personal items. Remember, we are no responsible for any lost or stolen items. When in doubt- lock it in your car or leave it at home. Due to the pandemic, we are currently asking students to kindly limit their personal items to a jacket, flip-flops, water bottle, and mouthguard.


If you realized that you forgot your belt, tape, or some other important item- or if you don’t own something and need it- don’t be afraid to ask. We have uniforms available to rent and have gear available for purchase in store for people who misplaced or don't have something.

What the Average BJJ Class Looks Like

It’s time for your first class. If you end up falling in love with BJJ, this will likely be a moment you look back on with fond memories. During this class, you will probably have no idea what is going on, do a lot of flailing, and end up very exhausted. The specific details of each class vary considerably, but the top-level structure is probably going to include a warmup, drilling one or more techniques, and then some form of sparring with resistance. If you are unsure what any of that means, you are in the right place.


Warm-up will consist of solo drills with zero resistance to activate the muscles and joints. Additionally, the focus of the class might further dictate the warmup. For example, a class with a takedown focus might employ pummeling (a wrestling drill) as a warmup. Especially on your first day, you should expect to not know what you are doing. Don’t worry about looking silly. Just do the movements as best you can, and keep an open mind.


The technique portion of class is when the instructor shows a technique while the students circle around and watch. The instructor will enact a step-by-step tutorial on a complying partner, and they will typically run through this a few times to make sure everyone has it. As the student, it is your job to remember the steps, and then drill this with a partner. You probably won’t get it right at first, and that’s fine. The coach or an assistant will probably be walking around to answer your questions. Try it out a few times, and then ask for help when you need it. You might even get paired with a partner who already knows the move, and they can help you get through it.


Rolling is similar to drilling, except you are no longer focusing on the technique-of-the-day, and you are open to freely try to wrestle and submit each other. If this is your first class, the coach may not yet want to try any submissions. If you know nothing about BJJ, you may not even know any submissions--or even know what a submission is. A submission refers to a technique that simulates breaking, tearing, or choking the opponent. The idea is that if you get a hold of a submission, you hold it just before any actual damage is done, and your opponent taps the mat in concession that you got them. This way, you can simulate a fight without actually hurting each other. You should expect to be exhausted after your first sparring sessions, but don’t worry, it will get easier.

Post-Class BJJ Hygiene

Cleanliness is an extremely important part of being a BJJ practitioner. When you start BJJ, you will find that you spend a lot of time showering, washing and drying your Gi’s, and organizing your gym wear in preparation for upcoming classes. You will likely end up with multiple uniforms, which will result in a lot of laundry.


Even at a small gym, there will likely be a number of people looking to shower after class is over. Before you jump into the shower, ask if there is anyone in line ahead of you. There may be an unofficial line that you weren’t aware of. When it’s your turn, you should be able to shampoo your hair, wash your body, and rinse off in around five minutes. Then, grab your towel, and dry off outside of the shower stall. This will allow the next person to jump into the shower while you get dry, and it will keep the line moving at a quick pace. That being said, if there is no one else in line for the shower, take your time and enjoy.


After class, change from your Gi or No Gi uniform as soon as possible. We have extra restrooms outside the gym that have ample space for changing. Even if you don’t shower until you get home, make sure you put your street clothes back on.If you drive home in your dirty Gi, you will have a very difficult time getting that smell out of your car. In an emergency, place down a towel or shirt on your car seat to avoid the sweat and smell soaking in.


In addition to changing out of your Gi after class, you should consider a laundry bag that you can place your Gi into. For the same reason you don’t want to wear your dirty Gi in your car, you also don’t want to contaminate the gym bag that you use to pack your clean Gi. By using a laundry bag, you can keep your gym bag clean, throw the laundry bag and Gi right into the washing machine when you get home, and prevent your belt from getting wrapped around the agitator (if your washing machine has one).


This is another item that will likely be common sense to most people, but you need to wash your Gi. Do not reuse your Gi at the next class if you didn’t wash it, even if it doesn’t smell or you didn’t sweat into it that much. No exceptions. Humans have bacteria like staph all over their bodies at all times. When you come into contact with the mats or other people, your Gi has come into contact with all sorts of bacteria, and now that bacteria is on your Gi. Make sure you wash your Gi after every single class to avoid contaminating yourself and your classmates.

Post-Class Recovery and Rest

Once the excitement (and possibly adrenaline) of the class dies down, you may find that you have become quite hungry and tired. How exhausted you are will likely depend on how intense the warm-up was and if you participated in sparring or rolling. Depending on these things, you may find that you are even shaking from exhaustion.


If you are shaky, be extremely careful on your drive home. You may even consider eating dinner or a snack somewhere nearby before driving. If you participated in an evening class, and you rolled hard, it could very well be late at night by the time you head home. Use caution when you are this tired, and take a power nap in your car if you need to.


Depending on your goals and lifestyle, your post-class meal may look much different than the next person’s. However, there are fewer things in life more satisfying than eating a good dinner after a night of hard sparring. Depending on how late you will be getting home, you might want to prepare a meal ahead of time, so that it is ready for you when you arrive. Make sure you communicate how late you will be getting home to your significant other so that they aren’t waiting for you before eating dinner.


You may find that you need more sleep when you start doing BJJ regularly. The sport can end up being equivalent to a full-body workout, and if you are attending class on a regular basis, you are going to be exhausted. If you aren’t sleeping enough, this can easily affect your work life and personal relationships, so make sure you are getting enough rest. Additionally, you find all sorts of aches and pains that can affect your sleep. Once you’ve been training for some time, you may find that a restorative activity like stretching, yoga, or massage is critical to help you get a good night’s sleep.

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