See how to stand out from among the crowd when starting your Jiu-Jitsu journey while laying the foundation for respect and success
Location: London, UK
Photo by: Oliver Smith
Starting your Jiu-Jitsu journey can be a daunting one. After all, it’s a combat sport, and there are understandably nerves regarding injury, pain in general, doing the wrong thing, or just standing out in a negative way. Whilst the old adage of jumping in with both feet is true in some instances, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s in store so that you can adequately prepare and avoid some common mistakes.
Here’s a breakdown of how to prepare for your first Jiu-Jitsu class.
Be on Time – in fact, be early!
First impressions are everything, and promptness makes a lasting impression. Furthermore, make sure to turn up early to your first class. If you haven’t already sorted everything out before you arrive at the gym, there’s a high likelihood you’ll need to complete some paperwork, get a run-down of the house-rules, and figure out where everything is. This takes a bit of time, so leave yourself plenty. This way, you’re not rushing around panicking before you’ve even stepped on the mat.
Jiu-Jitsu is a physical sport. You’re going to be hugging your partner quite aggressively, and it’s important that you prepare from a hygiene perspective for this inevitable exchange of contact. You don’t need to go overboard, but make sure you’re clean and smelling fresh before you step on the mat for every class. Speaking of stepping on the mat…
NO SHOES ON THE MAT!
And when you’re not on the mat, make sure you have shoes/flip-flops on your feet. This can’t be stressed enough. The idea is simple: you don’t want to bring the dirt and germs from the outside world onto the mats where you roll around with your partners. This is particularly important when using the restrooms. Remember that your face will inevitably end up on the mat!
For the most part, this is to ensure a clean place to train, but it’s also a sign of respect. You wouldn’t wipe your feet on your neighbors’ carpet. Why would you do it on the mats? If this isn’t enough to convince you, do a quick search of Staph Infections… that should sway your mind.
Got a hurt knee? Let your coach know. Never done a star jump in your life? Don’t be ashamed; just speak up. No idea how to tie the belt? Nor did we before we started! It’s important for your coach to have a good grasp of your physical condition and ability. We all start out at different levels, and your coach has a responsibility to bring you up to speed, but safely. They can’t do that if they don’t have the full picture.
Keep an Open Mind
Everyone begins their Jiu-Jitsu journey as a white belt. While some may have started too young to remember those days, all practitioners can at least relate to diving into a new experience and feeling awkward. In fact, this act is considered brave and is thus quite respected. Just learning how to hip-escape can be challenging… but it can also change your entire perspective about self-defense. Learning breakfalls forces you to unlearn a lifetime of landing on your wrist, but it can literally save your neck. These are the first steps to learnings new ways to move your body along the journey to inversion and maybe even flying takedowns and submissions!
Sounds simple, but Jiu-Jitsu is there to be enjoyed. Make sure you leave with a smile on your face. If that happens, we can almost guarantee you’ll be back!