Beginning BJJ: What to expect from your first class

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and you’ve prepared to take your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, what should you expect from your first class?

Starting the class: Warming Up

Most BJJ schools will begin their class with a warmup which will usually last between 5 and 15 minutes. A typical warmup would begin with the group jogging around the matted area followed by some basic solo movement drills and then possibly some light conditioning to conclude the warmup with some situps and pushups.

The portion of the warmup which will more than likely be unfamiliar to newcomers will be during the solo movement drills portion. This involves performing some common movements for example forward/backward rolls and hip escapes. Do not be put off if you feel uncomfortable performing these movements at first, you’ll get plenty of practice during your future classes and your instructors and fellow students will be there to help you.

Learning Techniques

After the warmup the instructor will demonstrate a series of techniques or 2/3 techniques 1 at a time for the students to practice in their own time with a partner. Usually new students will be paired up on their first classes however students usually select partners amongst themselves. Students will be given time to practice the techniques amongst themselves while the instructor will observe and offer some advice to students individually about the techniques they are performing.

Positional Sparring

After practicing techniques, some schools will get their students to participate in positional sparring. Positional sparring involves 2 students sparring starting from the same position as the techniques from the class, this gives students a chance to practice the techniques they’ve learnt in class against a resisting opponent.


Positional Sparring may be followed by full sparring, this involves students starting on their knees and grappling until submission. Once you or your opponent scores a submission, reset and start over from the knees. If you’re attending your first class, you don’t have to participate in sparring but the instructor will encourage you to try and take part. Try not to worry about feeling uncomfortable or a lack of knowledge when it comes to sparring in the beginning, for most students sparring is the most effective way to learn when starting out by picking up habits from the other students. Before you start sparring it’s important to know the basic rules when sparring at a BJJ club.

Basic Sparring Rules
  • No striking, kicking or punching at all
  • No pulling or twisting of the fingers
  • No hair pulling or eye gouging
  • No neck cranks (pulling/twisting of the head)
  • No footlocks that involve twisting the ankle
  • No slamming (picking up your opponent and dropping them)
Tapping/Signalling a Submission

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a submission hold is signalled by either tapping on the floor or by tapping on your opponent 3 times, if you do not have any available hands then you can tap with your foot on the floor or you can submit verbally by saying “tap!” to your partner. It is imperitive that you tap in a way that makes it obvious to your opponent that you are tapping to avoid the risk of hurting yourself. There is absolutely no shame in tapping, it is simply part of training and it’s much safer to tap early than tap when it’s too late.

After your first class

Now your first class is over you should approach your instructor and ask for any words of advice that may help you in your next class and also to let them know how your found your first class. Your instructor will probably speak with you about the class schedule and if you’d like to try another class or if you’d like to sign up.

If you wish to signup it is important that you try and buy yourself a gi to wear to class. Most academies will sells gis at there or should at least be able to order one in for you, you can also try and source one for yourself off of the internet however it’s always worth asking your instructor or fellow students for words of advice when it comes to buying a gi online as you do not have the luxury of trying one on when you order online.

Hopefully this post has given you a rough idea of what to expect on your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Good luck in your journey to conquer the mats.