When you walk into a new BJJ gym for the first time, it can be an intimidating experience. You have no idea what to expect. You will see people doing moves you’ve never even heard of before…and on top of that, you’ll probably feel a bit self-conscious about how new you are. The thing is, it’s ok! This article will give you some helpful hints to help you make your first trip to a BJJ gym smooth and productive.
The best advice I can give to anyone starting their jiu-jitsu journey is, just come in. Just walk through the door. I know it can be daunting, you might not know what to expect, and you might be scared, but trust me, it won’t be as scary as you think.
A lot of people have told me they have been thinking about trying BJJ for a while but they are too nervous or they don’t know what to expect or they are scared they will look like an idiot. So here is what you should expect:
First of all, everyone has that same fear when they start out. Everyone feels like a complete beginner at first and everyone makes mistakes. Even if your teammates have been training together for a long time and seem so close, you will soon become part of that family as well. And even if you are an absolute beginner who doesn’t know anything yet, your teammates will respect you for stepping foot on the mats and trying something new even though it’s intimidating.
You will notice that most gyms start off with a warmup and some drills before sparring starts which is great because this gives you the chance to get used to being on the mats and moving around without the pressure of sparring with someone yet.
The most important thing is to have fun. I know this seems corny, but it’s true. You’re about to be exposed to something new, different and exciting; take advantage of it. Try not to compare yourself to other people who may seem better than you, just focus on learning. It doesn’t matter if you never become an expert at jiu-jitsu, it only matters that you enjoy the experience of learning it.
You’ll learn that there are people who want to help you.
You’ll learn to ask questions.
You’ll learn to fall.
You’ll learn that you’re stronger than you think you are.
You’ll learn that it’s ok to be nervous about talking to people.
You’ll learn that it’s ok to be uncomfortable when you have to wear a gi for the first time and feel like a muppet in sweatpants.
You’ll learn that it’s ok if you’re not flexible, or fast, or strong yet. You can get better.
You’ll learn the difference between feeling awkward and being awkward (you’re only awkward when you feel awkward).
You’ll learn how to deal with frustration, because jiu jitsu is hard and it won’t always work out for you at first.
You’re not expected to be good when you start. You’re really going to get tapped out a lot.
One of the first things they’ll teach you is how to tap out – because it’s important to know when to submit, and when not to. People are going to be trying to make you tap out all the time, and it’s not necessarily because they’re being mean, or trying to hurt you. They’re just learning too, and you’re both practicing on each other. And sometimes people will do things that are dangerous without knowing it; if they don’t know how hard they can pull on your arm without hurting it, for example, you need to be able to tell them that they should ease off a bit.
Just try your best not to let the tapping out get you down. It’s a humbling experience, but it’ll make you better in the long run!
The key takeaway from this could be that if you’re going to try BJJ, go with an open mind. The people at a typical BJJ gym vary in age, size, and physical ability. If you’re nervous because you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll be good at it, just don’t worry about it—no one expects you to be a black belt right away. As long as you go in with an open mind, I guarantee that you’re going to have a great time and make friends who will support you along the way. And I can almost guarantee that after attending one class, you’ll feel a new kind of freedom—the freedom that comes from having mastered your own body and the confidence to throw it around against others.
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